What Do Green Shorelines Look Like?

Green Shorelines come in many shapes and sizes depending on site conditions (like slope, proximity of structures to the lakeshore, and wave energy). Planting shoreline vegetation can improve habitat and lake views on almost any property. A full beach restoration provides the greatest habitat benefits, but it may not be feasible for all properties. Below are some examples of different Green Shoreline approaches.

Use our interactive decision tool to find out which shoreline approach would work for your property.

Full Beach

Restoring a beach along your entire shoreline provides the greatest habitat improvement. It also creates a usable beach suitable for wading and other activities.

Full beach Side view of full beach
Designs: The Watershed Company
Photos: City of Seattle

Important considerations for a full beach restoration include:

Beach Coves

A beach cove is a small beach on a portion of a property with hard structural features, like wood, rocks, or a bulkhead, on both sides. Beach coves provide an area for beach activities, as well as benefits to fish and wildlife, and they are among the most popular Green Shoreline approach in Lake Washington.

Beach cove Beach cove view from house
Design and Photos: Hendrikus Group

Considerations for beach coves are similar to full beach restoration, and include:

Special care should be taken in the design to minimize erosion at the transition from beach to bulkhead. Possible approaches to minimizing this erosion include sloping the ends of the bulkhead or adding extra gravel below the water line to prevent undercutting of the bulkhead.

Bulkhead Setback

If your home was built close to the lake, a bulkhead may actually be needed to protect it from erosion. By moving a bulkhead back several feet away from the water line, homeowners gain a beach for wading and beach activities, and improve lakeshore functions.

Bulkheads can be setback along the entire length of the property to create a reinforced full beach or along a portion of the bulkhead to create a reinforced beach cove.

Setback bulkhead - Reinforced beach cove Setback bulkhead- reinforced beach cove
Design and Photo: Marine Restoration and Construction, LLC Design and Photo: The Berger Partnership

Similar to full beach and beach cove restoration, you should consider the following before setting back your bulkhead:


Bioengineering means using natural features like plants and logs in place of, or in addition to, traditional structural protection. This approach provides a natural aesthetic and as well as improved ecological functions to fish.

Several wetland shrubs and trees can be planted by staking clippings from mature plants into moist soils. Willows, cottonwoods, and dogwoods can all be planted this way. Combinations of partially buried clipping bundles (fascines) and stakes can be also be used. As these plants grow, their roots stabilize the shoreline. King County provides more information on live plant staking.

Bioengineered shore Perpendicular anchored logs to reduce lateral waves
Design and Photo: Marine Restoration and Construction, LLC Design and Photo: The Berger Partnership

Logs can can be strategically placed to provide functions similar to a traditional bulkhead, while creating a more natural look. Logs should be anchored into the beach, using cables or by partially burying them, to prevent them from drifting away during storms.

Watch the Green Shores video from British Columbia.

Shoreline Makeovers: See before/after photos of Green Shoreline projects in Lakes Washington and Sammamish.

See for Yourself! Green Shorelines demonstration projects at local parks near you.

Shoreline Decision Tool: Find out which shoreline approach would work for your property.

Other Important Aspects of Green Shoreline Designs:

Narrow dock with grated decking