Aquatic environments are very sensitive to the fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides used by homeowners to maintain the typical household landscape. Living next to a lake requires a fundamental change of landscape philosophy, and adaptation to nature’s systems and designs.
The major delivery of pollutants to a lake is from surface run-off. The strip of land within 100 feet of a stream pond or lake plays an important role in water quality. As a riparian buffer, it can trap non-point source pollutants, control bank erosion, and present a visual character.
Under ideal conditions, the first 25 feet back from the water’s edge should be undisturbed, natural woodland. On lots with steep slopes, the number increases to 50 feet. Needless to say, the “ideal” buffer zone is not common around many lakefront properties. But the good news is that any steps toward enhancing the buffer can have a positive impact on water quality.
For the residents who enjoy having a nice green lawn:
* Have your soil tested, chances are you do not even need to use any fertilizer. Or you may be able to drastically reduce the amount you use. If you do need some, be sure it’s a NO PHOSPHATE lawn fertilizer. (Local nursery’s can provide the testing and fertilizer). Please do not feed the weeds!
* Consider holding your lawn back from the water’s edge. Studies have shown that even a 15 foot well-vegetated natural buffer can remove as much as 50% of the sediment in run-off. This also creates a natural “fence” keeping geese from seeing your lawn. It also creates more of a “lake” feeling rather than the “suburban” look. And best of all, natural vegetation requires no maintenance!
The key is to look at what you’ve got to work with, learn how to maximize it, and implement your plan. Good luck!