Cape Cod is known for its beautiful beaches and biodiversity. However, while people stare in awe at the beauty of the ocean or the seabirds scurrying along the beach, the real hero is located just a few yards behind them.
Beach grass on Cape Cod is an essential factor in preserving the beauty of Cape Cod beaches and the delicate ecosystem thriving there.
How Does Beach Grass Prevent Erosion?
Planting beach grass on Cape Cod is one of the best natural ways to prevent land loss due to erosion in beach communities. While it may seem out of place at the beach, it’s been intentionally planted on US beaches since the 1700s to help prevent erosion.
Beach grass helps prevent coastal erosion by stabilizing sand dunes on the beach. The beach grass achieves this by:
Acting as a natural fence
Tall beach grass on Cape Cod helps catch sand. After a while, the sand begins to accumulate to form a dune. These sand dunes help protect the coastline from large surges or flooding, which in turn helps prevent erosion.
The dunes created by beach grass do more than just protect the coastline; they also help provide a habitat for shorebirds like the piping plover and other beach animals.
Having Deep Roots
Beach grass on Cape Cod naturally has very deep roots to reach far beneath the sand for a water source. These deep roots work just like the grass blades above the ground in holding the sand together.
When there is a lot of beach grass planted, it creates a network of roots that provides stability for the sand to stay in place.
Growing the Land
In the right circumstances, beach grass can actually help grow the land and expand the beachfront. When beach grass is planted on sand bars, it can trap enough sand and other sediments to actually create a new or growing land mass.
How Can I Help Protect the Beach Grass on Cape Cod as a Local?
If you live on the Cape and own a beachfront property, one of the best ways to help is by planting more beach grass! It’s a great way to protect your property and help prevent erosion.
Places like the Cape Cod Organic Farm specialize in growing beach grass and can help install beach grass on your property to maximize its effectiveness.
How Can I Help Protect Beach Grass on Cape Cod as a Visitor?
Visiting naturally beautiful places like Cape Cod is a pleasure and a privilege that should be enjoyed by generations to come. In order to preserve Cape Cod’s natural beauty, it’s essential to observe and obey all signs on the beach.
Keeping yourselves and your pets off the dunes is essential to prevent erosion. Walking on the dunes can damage the barrier between the ocean and the coast, kill the beach grass holding it in place, and destroy the habitats of wildlife that live there.
If you do want to bring your dog to the beach with you, try one of these Cape Cod dog-friendly beaches. Again, just make sure to obey the signs, as there are some areas on the beaches where dogs shouldn’t go.
What About Sea Grass?
Another way to naturally protect the Cape Cod coastline against erosion is through the sea grass. This is the grass that is located under or in the water. Just like beach grass, it helps protect the coastline from severe storms by reducing the impact of waves and “holding” the sand near the coast in place.
In addition to its ability to protect the coast from erosion, sea grass also helps improve water clarity and provides a natural habitat for several different species of fish.
Learn More About Protecting Cape Cod Beaches
If you want to learn more about preserving the Cape Cod shoreline, or visit our page on the Cape Cod National Seashore.