Historically, engineered structures such as seawalls and revetments were built to protect coastal banks from erosion and storm damage. However, these structures can cause serious problems along an eroding shoreline. First, they arrest the flow of sand from the bank to beaches and other properties along the shore—exacerbating erosion problems at these locations. They also deflect waves, increasing erosion in adjacent areas and ultimately undercutting the stability of the structure itself. In addition, these structures can alter groundwater flow and surface water runoff and destabilize the bank and adjacent areas. Because of these problems, the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act prohibits construction of most new engineered structures on coastal banks that serve as a sediment source.
For existing seawalls, revetments, and other engineered structures, plants can be used around the structures to help uptake water, control runoff, and buffer storm waves to help prevent further erosion and to protect vulnerable areas. Plants will also help beautify the area, provide wildlife habitat, and filter pollutants before they reach the ocean.
The Sample Landscape Plan for a Coastal Bank with an Existing Seawall (PDF, 705 KB) provides a sketched landscape plan along with a landscape profile showing the yard viewed from the house looking toward a seawall, as well as a plant list with the species used.
Sample Coastal Bank with an Existing Seawall Landscape Plan (left) and Landscape Profile (right)
The other available sample landscape plans are: