Planting for a Healthier Tiny Shoreline

Planting for a Healthier Tiny Shoreline
By Chris Straw

The shoreline is a dynamic zone that serves a number of purposes — filtering water from runoff, breaking down wastes from old or faulty septic systems, providing food and shelter for many plants and animals and of course, providing excellent recreation and leisure activities for the many residents and tourists that come to this area. This article focuses on the vegetation of Tiny’s shoreline area, both native and invasive plant species, and what we as stewards of the shoreline should do to ensure that its natural health is maintained. Both residents and tourists bear the responsibility of maintaining this shoreline so that our actions do not alter this natural landscape.

For many years and for many people the vegetation along shorelines and in front of cottages was simply removed or destroyed so that landowners would have a better view and better access. I can recall many summers when my grandfather would remove all vegetation in front of his cottage right down to the water line, a good 100 feet away. I can also remember very windy and stormy days when waves were breaking not far from the front steps because there was no natural dune left and therefore no natural way to absorb the wave energy.


Fortunately over time the grasses, chokecherry, poplar, oaks and ash have grown back to rebuild the dunes, provide shade and shelter and improve the shoreline ecosystem.

However it is still common to see large areas of the shoreline where either visitors or residents have cleared large areas of vegetation, ignorant of the damage they are causing.

Areas of shoreline that are devoid of vegetation lack the ability to offer protection during severe weather, have diminished water filtering abilities and higher dune movement rates as the sand isn’t locked in by roots and plant matter.

Shrubby Cinqfoil

Planting native grasses, shrubs and trees will greatly improve the ability of the shoreline to offer weather and water protection. Native plants provide the best chance in plant survival as they have adapted to local growing conditions, such as light intensity, growing season, climate, soils, disease and insects. Native plants typically also require little care. When choosing which plants to buy you should consider:
• water requirements of the plant
• water depth tolerance during periods of higher water levels (for plants at or near the water line)
• soil requirements of the plants
• resistance of the plant to overgrazing by waterfowl and other wildlife

Appropriate Vegetation for Tiny Township Shorelines (source: Severn Sound Environment Association)


Shrubs & Vines
Common Name Latin Name
Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus vitacea
Red-osier Dogwood Cornus stolonifera
Choke Cherry Prunus virginiana


Bank Vegetation
Common Name Latin Name
Sedges Juncus spp.
Rushes Cyperaceae
Shrubby Cinqfoil Potentilla fruiticosa
Common Name Latin Name
Oak, Chinquapin Quercus meuhlenbergii
Balsam Poplar Hopulus balsamifera
White Ash Fraxinus americana

(For more information and a larger list of shoreline plants native to Tiny Township please visit the Severn Sound Environment Association (SSEA) web page at

Many of these shrubs, grasses, trees and plants can be found in local greenhouses or by contacting local conservation groups. Wild Canada (, a local vendor of native plants, can also provide information on indigenous plant species.

Common Reed

Caution should be exercised when planting any plant near a shoreline. It is important to understand that not all ‘native’ plants are indeed native to our area – they may pose a threat to our shoreline environment. Research those plants you are thinking of utilizing to ensure that they are not invasive. The Common Reed (Phragmites australis) is one example of plant species that has adverse effects on the shoreline. It is highly invasive, spreads quickly, and it’s threatening the biodiversity of Tiny Township’s vegetation. By clicking on the following web link one can find a listing of many invasive species threatening Ontario,

With Tiny Township’s shoreline becoming an increasingly popular place for vacationers and full time residents, it is important that all of us understand the effects our lifestyles and activities have on shoreline ecosystems and what we can do and cannot do to preserve the beauty and ecological value of the shoreline of Tiny Township for the generations to come.