The greatest benefits of lakefront properties include the opportunities of recreation, wildlife refuge, and wildlife viewing. In attempts to create a panoramic view and ease of access, vegetation is commonly viewed as an obstacle and removed from the lake’s shoreline. Lakeshore property owners might be surprised to discover that some of the most common lake problems occur as a direct result of lakeshore vegetation removal.
A well groomed lawn provides poor habitat for most wildlife, including birds, mammals, and fish. These open habitat areas become targets for invasive nuisance species such as the Canada goose and purple loosestrife. Once established on the property, the invasive species are difficult to eradicate and contribute to lakeshore degradation. Goose droppings create unhygienic conditions from bacteria outbreaks and nutrient loadings comparable to those which occur from fertilizers and pollution runoff. Exotic plants out compete native species, and eventually decrease native plant diversity and associated wildlife.
Woody and herbaceous trees and shrubs stabilize the sediment along shorelines while their absence allows for severe shoreline erosion. The absence of shoreline buffer zones allows direct sediment and phosphorus runoff into the water. These nutrient loadings create green algae blooms that often cover the water surface. The algal mats deplete the photo-synthesizers in the lake which can result in oxygen reductions that limit healthy fish populations.
Restoration of a natural buffer zone along the lake shoreline is a logical solution to address these shoreline erosion issues. The re-creation of a natural buffer zone can provide seasonal habitat for wildlife, serve as an obstacle for Canada geese, restore root systems for active pollutant filtration, and stabilize eroding shorelines. Through lakescaping, it is possible to restore lake health and stability while maintaining recreational spaces that allow easy access and viewing along lakefront properties.