Well-maintained dune areas preserve and enhance the beauty
and value of coastal ecosystems, providing important natural
habitat for plants and animals. Photo by Wendy Carey
With planting season fast approaching, homeowners and others with an interest in coastal landscaping are invited to a free educational workshop on the importance of sand dunes in Delaware, management and maintenance of dunes, control of invasive species, benefits of using native plants, and challenges of landscaping at the coast.
The event will be held 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, May 15, at the Bethany Beach Fire Company. Primary sponsors include the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), and the Town of South Bethany.
“Sand dunes are not only a picturesque aspect of the coastal landscape, but are also a dynamic and important natural resource within the beach environment,” said Anthony Pratt, program manager of DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterways Management Section. “The recent beach nourishment projects along the Delaware coast have created new dunes in communities that did not previously have them. We welcome the opportunity to talk about maintaining dunes, how they will ecologically evolve over time, and DNREC’s plans for future maintenance.”
Dunes function as sand storage areas, providing a flexible defense against ocean storm surges and waves, and protecting low-lying backshore areas. In addition, they supply an important habitat for many plants and animals. With proper planning and management, their important functions and values may be enhanced, he said.
Wendy Carey, coastal processes specialist for Delaware Sea Grant, explained that attendees also will learn about the benefits of using native plants instead of traditional ornamental or exotic nursery stock.
“While beach grass is the dominant plant on the seaward face of dunes, the backside of dunes and associated low-lying interdunal swales offer special opportunities for coastal landscaping,” she said. “These plant zones are unique and can support many beautiful and valuable plants native to Delaware’s coastal environment.”
Rob Line, program manager for DNREC’s Environmental Stewardship Program, will discuss management and control of invasive species in Delaware. Tracy Wootten, horticulture extension specialist for University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension Program, will provide an overview of challenges related to planning and planting home landscape gardens in coastal Sussex County.
“Along the entire Delaware shore, landscaping can be a formidable task due to salt spray, wind, sandy soil and high temperatures,” Carey said. “Native plants often provide ecological benefits while requiring minimal maintenance due to their adaptation to local climate and soil conditions.”
The program is free and open to the public, but space is limited. RSVP is required by Wednesday, May 13. For questions or to RSVP, contact Dee Burbage at South Bethany Town Hall: 302-539-3653 extension 218 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Michelle Scorziello at Delaware Sea Grant: 302-645-4346 or email@example.com.
A preliminary agenda for the event is available here.
For more about Delaware Sea Grant, visit www.deseagrant.org. To learn about UD’s College of Marine & Earth Studies, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.