7 Design Ideas to Enhance Your Shoreline

By Marina French, PLA

Shoreline homeowners have many options for naturalizing their waterfront. In this post, we explore seven popular design choices and explain how to determine which is right for you.

Sandy beach

1. Sandy Beach

Due to the protected location of this home on the lake, a finer, sandy beach was designed. Grades were pulled back onto the property and clusters of natural boulders held back slope and large garden beds. Plantings are lush but low, allowing views from the house onto the lake.


2. Naturalized Bulkhead with Beach Cove

Natural boulders and logs protect the shoreline and replace the bulkhead. Native emergent vegetation is tucked behind boulders to give the cove both added habitat value as well as privacy. The natural boulder edge is pulled back to create a small beach cove.

Naturalized bulkhead with beach cove

Private cove

Private cove

3. Private Cove

The cove is tucked into the naturalized shoreline of this home and allows access to the lake. The landscape frames a peek-a-boo view into the property from the lake but overall maintains a high level of privacy. A log and emergent plants divide the gravel-cobble beach on the shoreline from a sandy inner-beach.


Boulder-gravel beach combination

4. Boulder-gravel Beach Combination

This project replaced one half of a concrete bulkhead with a natural boulder wall (far right), and the other half with a gently sloping gravel beach (left). Paths and lush plantings filled in behind the shoreline and around existing, mature trees.


Anchored log shoreline

6. Anchored Log Shoreline

Large, fallen logs are anchored along the shoreline with large boulders, lake shore gravel, and native vegetation. Logs protect the shoreline and vegetation, and act as a smaller, more natural bulkhead. Additionally they serve as a natural seating wall along the beach.


Partial bulkhead removal

6. Partial Bulkhead Removal

In this project a portion of the bulkhead was removed, and a portion was retained. Where the bulkhead was removed, a beach was created using large boulders set back into the landscape. Low-rise, stone steps connect the beach to a new patio overlooking the lake.


Naturalized bulkhead

7. Naturalized Bulkhead

A degrading concrete bulkhead was removed and replaced with more natural materials. The wall was brought back a little, and natural boulders and logs form the new bulkhead. The shoreline is better protected from wave action, the lake shore gravel added to the shoreline is good for salmon, and the shoreline is overall more attractive and natural looking.


What's the Process?

Shoreline design process by The Watershed Company

1. We start by visiting your yard and determining your shoreline needs. You may be restoring the shoreline as mitigation for building a new house or dock, might have a failing bulkhead, or might just be upgrading your use of the waterfront.

2. Next, we develop a shoreline plan that provides adequate stabilization while offering improved water access and habitat benefits for fish. Styles range from a full beach to a beach cove to a bioengineered shoreline using rocks and logs for stability. The design will reflect how you like to use the water, whether launching your kayak, throwing balls for the dog, or hosting dinner outside. We then obtain permits for construction.

3. To make sure the final result matches the design, we can help you select a shoreline contractor and oversee construction to ensure the shoreline is installed well.


Our biologists and landscape architects can help create a design that brings out your site’s natural character and benefits the surrounding environment. We work with freshwater and marine shoreline homeowners across Washington State, including projects on Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, Lake Chelan, and Lake Wenatchee that range from simple shoreline plantings to bulkhead removal and beach cove design. 

Contact us for an assessment and free quote!