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How to Properly Maintain Your Michigan Shoreline Beach: A Comprehensive Guide

well maintained beach & home on a Michigan lake shore.

Owning a waterfront property in Michigan is a privilege that comes with the responsibility of maintaining a stunning beachfront. This is not purely for aesthetic reasons, but also for practical reasons, too. In this guide, you will find information about shoreline beach maintenance for your private beach in order to help keep it in pristine condition season after season!

Key Points

  • Understand and Address Shoreline Erosion: Implement measures like rock or seawalls to slow down erosion caused by water levels, storms, and wind.
  • Regular Beach Sand Replenishment: Use Mason sand for its drainage, eco-friendliness, and local availability. Replenish annually or semi-annually to compensate for natural loss.
  • Routine Beach Maintenance: Regularly weed, rake, and clean the beach of debris, leaves, and branches to maintain its appearance and functionality.
  • Stabilize Your Lake Bottom: Implement lake bottom stabilization with geotextile fabric, which should be measured, anchored, and covered with sand to suppress weed growth and stabilize the area.
  • Seek Professional Assistance When Needed: For complex projects, consider hiring experienced professionals in beach installation, restoration, and muck removal.

Shoreline Erosion

shoreline erosion of an unmaintained beach that shows the sand and beach losses.

A naturally occurring phenomenon, erosion is the process whereby fluctuating water levels, storms, changing/extreme temperatures, and the wind slowly displace and wear away the land or shore. A Great Lake, in comparison to an inland lake, will face much greater fluctuation in wave activity and water levels, thereby contributing to a higher and more rapid rate of shoreline erosion. However, that doesn’t mean that your inland beach isn’t affected by erosion too. The installation of a rock wall or a seawall will definitely help slow down and even prevent shoreline erosion, keeping your beach from wearing away at an accelerated rate.

Beach Sand Replenishment

dump truck load of beach sand raising up in preparation to dump.

In our article on beach sand, we discussed that we typically use Mason sand in all of our beach sanding projects. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that Mason sand has properties which make it both aesthetically pleasing and practical.

For starters, Mason sand has excellent drainage properties, so it won’t leave unsightly puddles throughout your private beach area. It also is very eco-friendly, making it a good choice for beaches which will be utilized for activities such as sports and relaxation. And perhaps the coolest thing about Mason sand is that it’s locally sourced and helps balance the ecosystem, so it won’t harm humans, plants, or wildlife.

What does any of this have to do with sand replenishment?

Well, naturally over time, you will find that some sand replenishment is necessary. Just as you have to upkeep other features of your property (i.e. your mulch, your garden soil), annually or semi-annually, your beach requires similar replenishment over time. Through natural causes like Michigan’s extreme weather, ice, high winds, and just the day-to-day summer beach play, sand is naturally lost and displaced. In order to keep your beach lush and looking fabulous, we recommend “topping up” your beach sand on an as-needed basis. Since Mason sand is so readily available in Michigan, and because of the other beneficial properties we outlined above, doing so is relatively quick and easy. You can place a delivery order for Mason sand and either spread it yourself using rakes and shovels, or hire an experienced company to do so. 

Regular Beach Maintenance Practices

This kind of brings us to our next point: regular maintenance. Anytime you have a property, maintenance is required. Having a lakefront property is no different, and in fact adds to the number of items which must be maintained in order to keep your property looking nice and being useful. Much like leaf and weed removal from garden beds, regular beach maintenance involves weeding the pesky plants that make their way onto your beach, as well as regular raking of the sand in order to level the beach itself. Obviously besides weed removal, any debris, litter, leaves, or branches will have to be removed to keep your beach looking clean and inviting. But beach maintenance actually goes beyond the sand! Did you know that it can also include muck removal from the water? This brings us to our next point in beach maintenance

Stabilizing Your Lake Bottom

adding geotextile fabric to a waterside beach to keep weed and muck at bay and lessen the maintenance needed.

Weeds and muck are not only unsightly, but can really dampen the enjoyment of your beachfront property by creating “sinky” spots where there is often a slimy and unstable lake bottom underfoot. In order to get rid of weeds and muck permanently, lake bottom stabilization techniques must be implemented, including the use of geotextile fabric beneath the water which are carefully measured to match your beach area and then anchored in place. After this process has been completed, sand must be brought in to provide the weight to compress the muck under the fabric, and simultaneously act like a weed barrier – much like groundcover in a garden bed – by blocking light and oxygen so that the weeds can no longer grow. While this process can be completed by a savvy DIY’er, we do recommend hiring an experienced company for this portion of beach maintenance to ensure the longevity of the stable lake bottom and beach itself. 

Professional Assistance for Beach Maintenance

While so much beach maintenance can be done by the homeowners themselves, some projects may require the additional support of a team of experienced professionals who have the tools, equipment, and expertise to get the job done in a timely fashion. For extensive projects, professional assistance is invaluable. Companies who specialize in beach installation, beach restoration, and weed and muck removal are best suited for this task. 

Maintaining a private beach in Michigan requires a steady blend of regular upkeep, knowledge of the naturally occurring processes such as erosion, and sometimes seeking out the help of professionals. With the right TLC, your lakefront property can be a stunning and enjoyable retreat for years to come! 

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