Beachy Before and After

We began talking in 2020 about creating a native, beachfront landscape from the shoreline all the way up to the deck. Planting in sand was easy but convincing everyone that we could skip the irrigation system took a little extra. Just sand. Natural, locally and responsibly harvested from an inland sand dune / quarry replaced old useless turf grass. We then made sure to plant deep-rooted, drought tolerant grasses and a season full of flowers. June Grass, Little Blue Stem, Canada Blue Joint and Prairie Dropseed recreate the dune-like planting framework. Ratibida, Echinacea pallida, Bee Balm, Cylindrical Blazing Star, Butterfly Weed, Swamp Milk Weed, Wild Indigo, Coreopsis and Stiff Goldenrod. The mix is about 50/50 grasses vs. flowers with some aggressive spreaders to help fill in the lakeside buffer zone quickly and for the long term.


Landscape enhancements included the road-side as well. Here we installed a collection of native trees and shrubs to complement the builder’s stone installation and hardscapes. A hardy Redbud cultivar with burgundy leaves, a Rainbow Pillar Serviceberry, and a new species White Pine accompany a multi-stemmed Paper Birch as the centerpiece to the public face of the cottage. Species Fragrant Sumac shrubs sit next to a few of their shorter Gro-Low relatives. Rugged  and native, Low Bush Honeysuckle ‘Michigan Sunset’ provide amazing erosion protection and fantastic color changes throughout the season.  A private dog-run for August is dotted with a few Little Bluestem and a lot of cedar mulch. Outside the fence, Mountain Mint, Foxglove Beardtongue, Black Eyed Susans, Sky Blue Asters and a few Purple Coneflowers fill in the understory of mature White Pines. Careful observation revealed that the relatively open canopy could support sun-lovers and shade plants alike and provide color and habitat for pollinators from May through October. Shady areas on the hillside were planted with Ivory Sedge, while sunny patches along the stone walkway were treated to a mix of Michigan and Massachusetts Bearberry, Harebell, Prairie Smoke, Spotted Bee Balm, with some locally grown Lavender and Russian Sage. I find adding a couple of well behaved non-native plants that bloom along side the natives add a subtle quality of sophistication in a rather wild landscape. Plus the deer hate the Lavender and Russian Sage.

The after photos were taken in June and the client was thrilled. We will be adding a few more native shrubs to the upper shoreline area this summer as the water on Lake Charlevoix is much lower this season. The focus will be to develop a healthy band of root systems just above the Ordinary High Water Mark to protect the entire shoreline. But that is for another blog. Click or tap the photos below to enlarge.

Road-side Trees, Shrubs and Native Flowers


2021-2022 Transformation

Sound Up! Shoreline Pollinator Garden Sound Effects.

Shoreline Pollinator Garden featuring New England Asters. Seed grown native species are crucial for the health of our landscapes and ecosystems. They are also visually stunning and are the last flowers to bloom – often into October when all others have faded. We have combined them with Stiff Goldenrod, Mountain Mint, Swamp Milkweed, native Hibiscus, Blue Lobelia, Cardinal Flower, and Tussock Sedge in a shoreline buffer garden replacing an unmowable and swampy lawn. Background audio is the real deal so turn it up to enjoy fully.

New England Aster and Stiff Goldenrod, October 2021, Walloon Lake, MI

New England Aster and Stiff Goldenrod

Shoreline Buffer Garden with Michigan Native Plants