Interested in having a living shoreline installed on your property, but not sure where to start?  Take a look at the list below for some tips to get you started in the right direction.


Step 1:  Does Your Property actually have an erosion problem Or do you want to "green-up" your shoreline?

Not all shorelines are eroding, and some erosion can be part of the natural process of a healthy marsh. But, if excess erosion is occurring on your property, there are a couple of different types of living shoreline options out there that can be designed to meet your needs.  There are also options for you to turn your rip-rap shoreline into a marshy green oasis.  In general traditional living shorelines are used in areas with little wave energy, and hybrid designs are used in areas with high wave energy or boat traffic. Click the link below to learn about the signs of erosion.

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Step 2: Materials Used in Living Shorelines

The materials used for construction of living shorelines will depend on whether your living shoreline design is traditional or hybrid.  Some of the basic materials that are found in many living shorelines include: coir logs, coir mats, twine, sand, wooden stakes, shell bags and native plants.


Step 3: Contact a Designer/Contractor

Now that you have decided to install a living shoreline on your property, contacting an experienced professional in living shoreline construction is the next step. Click the "Learn More" button to find helpful tips on finding the right professional for you.


Step 4: Understanding federal and State Permitting

State and federal permits are required before installing your living shoreline.  If installing a more natural shoreline, there are expedited permitting processes at the state and federal levels to simplify the process.  The state expedited permit is called a Statewide Activity Approval (SAA), and the federal expedited permit is called a Nationwide Permit (NWP).  In order to be applicable for these permits, your project must fall within the limiting criteria, maximum project length and width, and have few negative impacts on subaqueous (underwater) lands, water quality and habitat.

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Step 5: COSTS

The costs associated with installing a living shoreline will depend on the type of shoreline you need as well as the contractor you choose to work with. Because of this, it is nearly impossible to generalize costs. It is a good idea to get several quotes from different professionals to decide what the best option is for you.  Some of the main items that a contractor may charge for are: site surveys, project design, permitting, raw materials and equipment for construction, construction labor, and maintenance.  The application fee for the State of Delaware permit is $225.00.

Living shorelines are generally less expensive to install than hardened shorelines. Additionally, living shorelines are more resilient and durable than hardened shorelines, meaning that they can bounce back more quickly after coastal storms and require less costly maintenance. Living shorelines do require some maintenance from time to time, but even including these maintenance costs, living shorelines still cost less than hardened structures. Projects at low-energy sites usually cost the least, with project costs increasing with site energy.

If you decide that a living shoreline is a good option for you but need help paying for it, check out the cost-share program ocassionaly available through Sussex Conservation District in cooperation with DNREC that can be used throughout the State of Delaware.


Step 6: Installation

Installation of living shorelines can take a few weeks to months depending on the design and timeline of your project. If you are in an area that has shorebirds, horseshoe crabs, or migratory fish, considerations will need to be made to make sure that work is not done during their breeding times. Planting is most effective when it is done in the spring in order to give the plants the longest time possible to settle in and grow before they die back at the end of the year. Properly installed living shorelines will take a few years to fill in with plants and look like a natural marsh. While they are growing, keep an eye on them for any sudden changes or possible trouble spots.

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Step 7: MaiNtenance and Troubleshooting

Sometimes, a bit of maintenance is required in order to get your living shoreline just right. Though not an all-inclusive list, here are some of the common signs that your living shoreline design might need some tweaking, and how these problems might be solved.