Initiatives | Shoreline Management | Stabilization

Alternative Shoreline Stabilization Methods

picture of marshy shoreline

This hybrid shoreline stabilization structure uses marsh plantings and low rock sills to stabilize eroding banks. The rock sills are a breakwater to protect the vegetation from strong wave action.


Even with the best planning and regulatory programs, some type of shoreline stabilization is often needed when eroding shorelines threaten waterfront development. To restore, protect, and enhance the natural shoreline environment, "soft" or "non-structural" stabilization techniques that rely on vegetative plantings and sand fill, or "hybrid" techniques that combine vegetative planting with low rock sills, can be effective alternatives to hard stabilization structures such as bulkheads, rip rap or groins. These alternative "soft" and "hybrid" approaches are often collectively referred to as "living shorelines" since they help to preserve the natural, living shoreline.

In Depth: The benefits and drawbacks of living shorelines.

NOAA's Restoration Center, which funds and provides technical assistance on many living shorelines projects, provides additional information of living shorelines including the  planning and implementation steps needed to install a living shoreline erosion control structure and what type of living shoreline treatments would be most appropriate given the type of shoreline.