Three Most Important Things
There's a lot of ideas on this website, but what are the most important things a homeowner can do on their property to help the lake?
How you manage the lawn has the greatest impact on the health of the lake. Here's three simple shoreland property lawn care practices to maintain a beautiful yard and protect water:
Lawn height: Lawns maintained to 2" in height are considered high maintenance requiring more watering and fertilizing! A little taller is better... mowing your lawn 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches in height will allow for deeper roots helping to grow to keep your lawn hydrated and nourished and the lake clean. Here's why:
Mowing lawns short makes for shallow roots. Deep roots absorb more nutrients and break down pollutants preventing them ending up in the lake or stream.
Taller grass blades slow the rate of runoff allowing longer time for nutrients to be absorbed and reducing dirt and other particles from getting into the lake. Slowing runoff will allow more water to absorb into the soil. Soil moisture provides a supply of available water between irrigation or rain.
Stop or Reduce the Fertilizer: You can maintain a lush lawn and save time and money by doing these simple steps:
Leave the grass clippings on the lawn when mowing. Clippings quickly break down adding nutrients back into the soil eliminating the need to add chemical fertilizers.
If you must fertilize - a late summer (August) application of fertilizer provides a shot of nutrients before grass goes into dormancy. Healthy roots will help the plants overwinter and have a lush green lawn in the spring.
Use phosphorus free fertilizer. Make sure the middle number on the bag is a 0.
Grow a plant buffer near shore: Grow plants that don't need to be mowed or fertilized. There are many pretty flowering native plants and grasses that can add to the interest, wildlife and protection of your shoreline. Even a narrow buffer can help reduce runoff and add "armor" to prevent wave erosion. If you have issues with high water levels or heavy wave action you can use native grasses, shrubs and flowers for protection, although you may need to add other measures of protection such as bio-logs. See how to build a shoreline buffer or visit your local Soil and Water Conservation District.