Creating A Good Shore Buffer

May 20, 2018

Good Ideas For Your Garden (Especially Near The Shore)


* Vegetated Buffers

* Meandering Pathways

* Plant Diversity

* Duff Layer


We will welcome Spring and the many changes it brings, including the opportunity to garden, and to enjoy other outdoor activities.  Most property owners have some familiarity with Maine’s Shoreland Zoning law, or at least are aware of the setback requirements.  The setback was established to provide space for vegetated buffers.


Buffer strips have long been recognized as the way to protect water quality and to prevent soil erosion, filter non-point source pollution, and to provide visual screening for the shoreline to retain its natural beauty.  But if you ask 10 people what makes a good buffer, you would probably get 10 different answers.


By keeping the following components of a buffer in mind, creating or restoring a functioning buffer may be easier.


FLOW PATH:  Good vegetated buffers break up the flow path of surface water runoff in several ways. The living vegetation intercepts rain drops and reduces their energy before hitting the ground; the dead vegetation creates a duff layer which avoids channelized flow.


VEGETATION: Plant diversity is important. A mix of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants will help develop a good duff layer and will reduce nutrients affecting water quality.


DUFF:  Some people overlook the duff layer and consider it trash that should be raked up. The duff layer, and its many microorganisms work to recycle nutrients there. Physically, the duff layer stabilizes the surface of the soil and keeps the mineral soil from being eroded away. Duff is typically uneven and prevents a channelized path.


Sources: DEP’s Shorelands News & Gulf of Maine Times

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