New Hampshire Landscaping Blog


Perched Beach

Lakeshore property owners will oftentimes want a sandy beach for summer enjoyment. This type of a project will involve DES (Department of Environmental Services) permitting, and most likely, the hiring of a Landscape Contractor. First, lets discuss what a perched beach is, and then why you will need this kind of a beach if you want a new beach at all in New Hampshire.

The DES in New Hampshire requires that all new beaches MUST be constructed in a PERCHED manner. This means that the sand must be entirely out of the water and above and landward of the existing shoreline. This often requires a stone retaining wall on the land-side of the beach, and an approved shoreline stabilization on the shore-side of the beach. The perched beach should be located where it has the least impact on the lake. No loam or silt should be in the sand, and you will only be allowed 10 cubic yards of sand on your beach. The depth of the sand should not exceed 6”. The work will most likely take place when the lake is drawn down or at it’s lowest point. Silt control measures should be taken during construction, and will need to be maintained throughout the entire process. No machinery can be in the water during construction. Steps leading into the water can be incorporated into the landscape design, and your Landscape Contractor should construct them so that they cut back into the bank and do not extend out into the water.

All of these DES permitting requirements (and more) are done in order to protect our lakes and wetlands. Sand has impacts on the lake that you may not be aware of, and this is why all new beaches must now be “perched beaches”. Sand, first of all, can accumulate and essentially fill in lakes until they eventually become marshy and worse. If the area that you want a beach doesn’t already contain a natural beach, it probably isn’t an area that the sand would stay in place by itself anyway. Sand has chemical attributes that can be unfavorable to the lake. There can be iron bacteria in the sand which causes a rust-colored slime and oil-like film on the water. Clay is another component, which when in the lake can cause a reduction in the water clarity. Also, if there is any phosphorus in the dumped sand that gets into the lake, it will contribute to increased macrophyte, algae, and cyanobacteria growth in the lake. There are more possible dangers as well, so this is why we must now do perched beaches.

Ask your Landscape Contractor about their experience with perched beaches and their experience in working with DES permitting. Permits must be obtained before work begins. Landscapes by Tom has done many perched beaches, and we’d be glad to discuss your project. We’re here to help.


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