By Karen Jackson

Water Resources Agent – Richland County

Clemson Extension


Our waterways here in the Midlands are essential to the survival of countless species, including our own. During the summer, we use our lakes and rivers for recreational purposes while depending on those same waterbodies for our drinking water supply.

It may be hard to resolve watershed issues at a large scale but homeowners can influence our water quality at the local level. One way is to establish and maintain a shoreline buffer. With thousands of miles of shoreline lining our ponds, lakes, and rivers, there are plenty of opportunities for this best management practice.

Shoreline buffers consist of nothing more than a wide strip of native South Carolina plants. These plants serve as a transition zone between our terrestrial and aquatic environment. More importantly, they capture pollutants from yards and impervious surfaces and prevent them from entering waterways. Plants act as a natural filter for excess nutrients applied to lawns, dog waste left behind, sediment from erosion, and other undesirables.

Plants that work great in these areas include Pickerel Weed, Soft Rush, Scarlet Hibiscus, Iris, and many more aesthetically appealing plants. Not to worry if you want to help but are lacking a green thumb. You can do your part by not mowing to the shoreline and letting the existing species grow back.