Plant Buffers Stop Lake George Runoff

Shoreline Buffers Help Protect Lake George

The Problem

More and more people are building year-round or second homes on Lake George. They often bring their concept of yard care from communities not in the Lake George watershed, leading to a lawn that extends all the way down to the lake shore. Problems with bringing traditional lawns to the lake shore can include:

  • Excessive plant growth and algal blooms;
  • Shoreline erosion and sedimentation;
  • Loss of wildlife habitat;
  • An increase in nuisance animals; and
  • Loss of leisure time.
Lake George homes built on shoreline
Lake George home with Shoreline buffer

The Solution

A well landscaped yard adds value to your property, and vegetative buffers are included in that landscaping. Shoreline buffers can also benefit Lake George’s water quality and overall health, because buffers:

  • Offer food and shelter for local wildlife;
  • Stabilize soil to reduce erosion;
  • Filter pollutants and sediments out of the soil;
  • Absorb nutrients from the stormwater;
  • Deter nuisance species;
  • Privacy from lake users; and
  • Savings in time and money for maintenance.

What are Shoreline buffers?

A shoreline buffer, aka vegetative buffer, or buffer zone, is a strip of natural vegetation along the shoreline of a lake or waterbody. Ideally, the vegetation should cover at least 50 - 75% of the property’s lake frontage. By restoring the shoreline with native plants, you restore the ecological functions of the lake shore and protect the Lake from polluted stormwater.

Use the natural landscape as your guide

Let trees form a canopy, with shrubs, flowers, and ground cover underneath, creating multiple layers — just like in nature. If your trees are bigger than you want, stick with lower shrubs and flowers. Do what works for you — any plants are better than grass all the way down to the Lake.

Right Plant. Right Place. 

Lake George is in Zone 4 of the plant hardiness zones — so be sure any plants you pick are meant for zone 4 or colder. Click here to see a map of the hardiness zones from Cornell University. You will also need to consider the soil type, sunlight, drainage and slope on your site.

What should I plant?

Stop by the LGA office to pick up a list of recommended plants for buffers - pdf on Lake George. You can also check out the demonstration buffer at our office at 2392 State Route 9N, Lake George or at Lake Avenue Beach and Shepard Park in Lake George Village.

How do I get started?

Look around at natural areas to see what plants are growing there. There are also many plant lists available online or available at the LGA office.

Want professional help?

We can visit your site and provide advice, help you find a local landscaper with experience planting buffers, or help educate your current landscaping team.