Lakescaping for wildlife and water quality lakescaping Definition

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  • Definition

    • Landscaping in areas that are lake front properties

Affects of Managing Lakeshore

  • Fisheries

  • Wildlife

  • Non-native plants and wildlife control

  • Water quality

  • Use of native plants

  • Landscape design

  • Forest management

  • Aquatic plants management

  • Management of swimming beaches

  • Watershed management

  • Lawn and garden management

  • Control of shoreline erosion

Involvement in Shoreline Activity

  • Local

  • County

  • State

  • Federal

    • Zoning regulations, laws, and permits


  • Life at the water’s edge

  • The lake ecosystem

  • Solving lakeshore problems with buffer zones

  • Designing lakeshore landscapes

  • Site preparation and plant installation

  • Maintenance

  • Shoreline stabilization

  • Good stewardship practice

  • Lakescaping examples

Life at the Water’s Edge

  • Buffer Zone-extends 25 to 100ft above shoreline

The Lake Ecosystem

  • Watershed

    • Lake
    • River
    • Stream
    • Wetlands
  • Lakeshore is one of the most biological diverse natural communities

    • Interaction between
      • Soil
      • Water
      • Air
        • Long term stability and water quality


  • Nesting & Nursery area

  • Cover

    • Wildlife
    • Aquatic
  • Feeding

    • Food web

Lake Chemistry

  • Cycles

    • Biological
    • Chemical
      • Phosphorus-limiting factor
      • Oxygen
        • Atmosphere
        • Aquatic plants
    • Physical
      • Water transparency
    • Interdependent
      • When one changes it affects the others

Solving Lakeshore Problems with Buffer Zones

  • Problems with groomed lakeshore

    • Erosion and sedimentation
    • Sandy beach maintenance
    • Excessive plant growth and algal blooms
    • Loss of wildlife habitat
    • Nuisance animals
    • Loss of leisure time

Buffer Zone

  • Definition

    • Is a natural strip of vegetation along at least 75% of a property frontage
  • Vegetation used to create a buffer zone

    • Native trees
    • Shrubs
    • Wildflowers (forbs)
    • Grasses
    • Sedges on land
    • Emergent, floating and submergent aquatic plants

Designing Lakeshore Landscape

  • Consideration

    • Climate
    • Water
    • Soil
    • Plants
    • Animals

Lakescaping Vs. Landscaping

  • Differences

    • Lakescaping
      • First assesses the growing environment
      • Then selects plants to grow in that conditions
      • Preference to native plants
        • Thrive in specific soils, moisture, and light conditions
        • Do not require supplemental water, fertilizer, pesticides or excessive labor
    • Landscaping
      • First selects a plant for color, fragrance, or characteristic
      • Then alters growing environment
        • Needs fertilizer, pesticides and supplemental water


  • Develop a plant list

  • Consider you needs and desires

  • Draw a base map

  • Create space by designing outdoor rooms

  • Design specific plantings

Developing a plant list

  • Native landscaping in area

  • Properties

    • Soil – sandy, rocky, mucky, etc
    • Light conditions – full sun, part sun, or shady
    • Moisture
    • Slope
  • Take photo of other areas for ideas

Considering your Needs and Wants

  • What are the characteristics of your site

    • Site inventory
  • What do you need in your landscape

    • Utility requirements
  • What do you want in your landscape

    • Recreation desired
  • What can you do to improve the environment and water quality

Drawing a Base Map

  • Draw you property

  • Measure dimensions

    • Buildings- windows and doors
    • Driveways and walkways
    • Landscape
  • Plot all measurement on large sheet of graph paper

    • Suggested scale 1”=4’, 1”=8’, or 1”=16’

Creating Space by Designing Outdoor Rooms

  • Outdoor room – is an area in you landscape that accommodates your activities

  • Create with wall of

  • The Floor being

    • Lawn
    • Patio or Deck
  • Consider ceiling


  • State natural resources agency (DEQ)

    • Minimum requirements
      • Buffer zone
      • Permits
        • Michigan’s wetland regulatory program
          • Wetland Protection Act
          • Clean Water Act
        • Permit Standards
          • Public Interest Test
          • Acceptable Disruption to Aquatic Resource Test
          • Wetland Dependency / Alternatives Analysis Test
  • Common Law

  • Local Regulations


  • Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control

  • Subdivision Control Act

  • Michigan Environmental Protection Act

  • Michigan Endangered Species Act

  • Flood Plain Regulatory Act

  • Inland Waters

  • Shorelands Protection and Management

  • Sand Dunes Protection and Management

Designing Specific Planting

  • Aquatic Buffer Zone

    • Emergent plants
    • Submerged plants
    • Floating plants
      • Absorb wave energy, hold fine sediments in place, and provide food and shelter for many fish and wildlife species
  • Upland Buffer Zone

    • Herbaceous plantings
    • Woody Plantings
      • Protects the lake by filtering nutrients, leaves, and holds the bank soils in place

Emergent Plants

  • Grow in large colonies

  • Once established will spread

  • Establish 2 to 3 species in large groups

    • Will move to where they are best suited


  • Low-growing, non-woody, leafy, ground layer plant

    • Sedges – triangular stem grass-like plants
    • Grasses
    • Wildflowers
      • Plant grass and sedges approximately 3ft between individual plants
      • Place wildflowers between the space of grasses and sedges


  • Trees and shrubs

    • Shrubs
      • Space 6ft between each shrub
      • Do not place any close then 2ft from grasses and sedges
    • Shrubs can be planted right up to lakes edge without obscuring view
    • Design a filter or framed view
  • Make sure you take in consider shade tolerance species for planting if using trees

Budget Money and Time by Planting in Intervals

Site Preparation & Plant Installation

  • Sourced of Native Plants

    • Nurseries
    • Contract Growers
    • Diggings from the wild
    • Rescue plants from the blade of bulldozers
    • Propagation of seeds
    • Cuttings
    • Rootstock
  • Planting Costs


  • Rules

    • Purchase local-origin plants from local nurseries
      • Not more then 200 miles away
    • Make sure plants bought are not collected from the wild

Contract Growing

  • Order them 3 to 6 months in advance

  • Necessary for large quantities

  • Typically half-down payment is required

  • Investment is worth the timely delivery of the plants you desire

Digging From the Wild

  • Digging is destructive

    • Robbing plants of their natural beauty
    • Opens soil
      • Creating a seed bed for invasive weeds
    • Reduces reproductive potential
  • Digging some plants is illegal

  • Transplants are difficult to establish

  • Do collect seeds and propagate

    • Seed collect is illegal on public property

Rescuing Plants from the Blade of the Bulldozer

  • Thousands of native plants are destroyed each year by construction

  • Permission to harvest is required

  • Must plant in a bed immediately

  • Best dug in the spring or fall, when cool

    • In mid summer
      • Cut aboveground stems in half to reduce the amount of leaf surface that loses water
      • Keep transplants out of the sun after digging
      • Keep exposed roots wet
    • Aquatic plants need DNR permits

Propagation from Seed

  • Collect seed in the summer and fall

  • Propagate wildflower and grasses indoors over the winter

  • Obtain permission from appropriate agencies to collect seeds on state land or from landowner on private property


  • Lakeshore shrubs

    • Propagated from twig cuttings
      • Taken in spring
      • Before leaving
    • Examples
      • Willows
      • Red-osier dogwood


  • Portions of the root system without stems and leaves

  • Purchase fewer plants with larger sizes

  • Clean of seed and plant fragments

    • So as not to introduce invasive species

Planting Costs

  • Wildflower and grass plugs 6-12 plants

    • $1 a plant
  • Woody bare-root plant in spring

    • $8 per shrub and trees
  • Wet-meadow seed mix

    • $40 per 1000ft²
    • Small live plants -- $600 per 1000ft²
  • Prairie kits

    • $225 per 1000ft²
  • Prairie grasses and wildflowers large areas

    • $1700 to $10,000 per acre

Site Preparation

  • Eliminate invasive weeds

    • Reed canary grass, purple loosestrife, crown vetch, and common buckthorn
      • Takes time and persistence

Site Preparation

  • Eliminate turf

    • Organic herbicides – scythe or superfast weed killer
      • Require permit from DEQ to apple herbicide
      • 10 to 14 days for sod to die
      • Spot spray for at least to 2 day before planting
    • Remove sod with gas-powered sod cutter
      • Labor intensive
    • Smother lawn
      • black polyethylene plastic, old carpet shower curtains, or layer of newspaper or cardboard
      • Takes all growing season – 5 to 6 months

Site Preparation

  • Soil preparation

    • Live plants
      • Elimination sod and invasive plant for
      • Nothing else for native plants

Planting Tips

  • Keep planting affordable

    • Divide master plan into small sections and plant over 5 to 6 year period
  • Plant emergent and floating plants in the spring-when water levels are low

  • Label plants

  • Cut a thin slice into root mass to simulate growth

  • Soak containerized plants before taking them out to plant

  • Installing

    • Wide but not deep hole
    • Create a mound of soil
  • Dig wide enough to speed roots

Planting Tips

  • Bare-roots

    • Wash roots
    • Plant before they leaf out and temp. moderate
    • Cover with damp straw, compost, soil or wet burlap
  • Avoid burying plants too deep or to shallow

  • After planting water thoroughly

  • Planting in lake need to be anchored to prevent wash away

  • Exception to the rule of not adding soil amendments

    • Shady upland
      • 3 to 6 inches of compost or manure

Seeding Tips

  • Within 15ft of lakeshore do not seed use living plants – soil erosion

  • Above 15ft seed and use cover crop of rye, oats, or mixed seed

  • On shallow slopes and flat grades place a light application of straw – prevent erosion

  • Keep new seedings moist

  • Most perennial species are slow to establish – have patience

  • Planting are difficult to differ from weeds – learn to identify native plant seedlings

The “No Planting” Technique

  • Mowing and competition keep native plant from growing

    • Stop mowing up to lake shore
    • Above 15ft kill lawn with herbicide-next to native plants
      • Kill grass 5ft to 10ft at a time
        • Allowing for native plant to take over
  • This will not work in areas with invasive species

    • Buckthorn, reed canary grass, crown vetch, and smooth brome


  • Prevent soil erosion

  • Keeps weed from germinating

  • Holds in moisture


  • Maintaining Aquatic plants

  • Maintaining Onshore plantings

    • First season
    • Second season
    • Long term maintenance – 3 years and beyond
  • Replacement

Maintaining Aquatic Plants

  • The trick is getting them established not long-term maintenance

  • Secure plants

  • Replant and anchor if uprooted or washed away

  • Some species will come back on their own

Maintaining Onshore Plantings

  • First season

    • Benefit from supplemental watering
      • Need 1in of water per week
    • Keep weeds out
      • Once every two weeks
    • Look out for invasive species
      • Pull out will young
    • Use mulch
    • Do not fertilize
    • Do not use insecticides and fungicides

Maintaining Onshore Plantings

  • Second season

    • Water only during drought periods
    • Scout for weeds once every three weeks
    • In spring cut back dried herbaceous vegetation
    • In fall leave dried vegetation

Maintaining Onshore Plantings

  • Long-term maintenance (+3years)

    • Beginning of each season cut back dried vegetation
    • Scout for weeds once a month
    • No watering is necessary
    • Leave dried vegetation standing in fall


  • A few plants will not make it through the first year

  • In large gaps replant quickly – erosion

  • A continuous vegetative cover is the goal

  • Expect your lakeshore planting to change over time

  • Enjoy

Shoreline Stabilization

  • Bioengineering

    • Stabilizes bank
    • Uses living materials
      • Creates habitat
      • Self repairing
    • cheaper

Methods Below Normal Water Line

  • Wave – breaking devices

  • Plant – anchoring methods

Methods above Normal Water Line

  • Slop preparation

    • Cut back to get 2:1 (horizontal to vertical) slope
  • Erosion – control fabrics

    • Revetments
    • Rock Riprap
    • Wattles
    • Live stakes
    • Willow Post
    • Brush Layers
    • Brush Mattresses


Rock Riprap


Live stakes

Willow Post

Brush Layers

Brush Mattresses


Ice Action

  • Depends on

    • Wind direction
    • Ice thickness
    • Lake level
    • Other factors
  • Land ridge

    • Leave in place
      • Filters runoff from the yard
      • Covered in vegetation – removal will expose the shoreline to erosion

Cost Estimates

Good Stewardship Practices


    • Storm drains
    • Gullies
    • Swales
    • Tiles
    • Ditches
  • Use buffer strips

Maintaining a Vigorous and Environmentally Sound Lawn

  • Planning

  • Soil preparation for seeding or sodding

  • Seeding

  • Watering

  • Mowing

  • Fertilizing

  • Weed and insect control


  • Design a smaller lawn to reduce overall maintenance

  • Replace unnecessary lawn areas with shrub borders or herbaceous native plantings

  • Consider planting native ground covers that tolerate the adverse growing conditions found in these spots

Maintaining a Vigorous and Environmentally Sound Lawn

  • Planning

  • Soil preparation for seeding or sodding

  • Seeding

  • Watering

  • Mowing

  • Fertilizing

  • Weed and insect control

Soil preparation for seeding or Sodding

  • Soil test

    • Soil type, pH, and nutrients
  • Loosen soil before seeding or sodding

  • Till in compacted upland soils

  • Use aerator in compacted established lawn once a year in mid-spring or in the fall after Labor Day


  • Select low-maintenance turf grasses

  • Read labels on seed packages carefully to learn what they contain

  • Do not buy cheap grass seed

    • You get what you pay for


  • Encourage deep rooting by watering seldom but thoroughly

  • Actively growing turf requires 1in of water per week

  • To survive hot, dry weather, lawn grasses naturally go into a state of dormancy

  • During severe drought, water dormant grass ¼ to ½ in every two to three weeks to keep crowns from dehydrating beyond the point of recovery


  • Mow high

  • Mow frequently

  • Keep lawn mower blades sharp

  • Increase mowing height by ½ to 1in in midsummer

  • For small lawns consider using a manual, nonmotorized mower

  • Sweep up grass clippings blown onto pavement


  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn

    • Use a mulching mower
  • Low-maintenance lawn need just one application of fertilizer per year applies in the early fall

  • Use organic fertilizers

    • Milorganite, Ringers, synthetic organics (Nitroform, Par-EX)
  • Sweep adjacent paved surfaces after applying fertilizer

  • Water lawn after applying fertilizer

  • Have soils test for lack of phosphorus

    • Don’t use if not needed

Weed and insect control

  • Insecticides are seldom needed for grass management

  • When needed us a broadleaf herbicides for weed control in the fall

  • In small yard pull weeds by hand

  • Spot treat individually with ready-to-use sprays

  • Read and adhere to labels on pesticides

  • Maintain a healthy lawn

    • Weeds will not be able to establish
  • Historically, lawns were composed of a variety of grasses and broadleaf plants

    • Consider going back to a more diverse community of plants with in your lawn

Managing Invasive Non-Native Plants

  • Learn the difference between non-native and native plants

    • Native
      • Plants or species that have originated in an area and continue to grow in their ecological niche
      • Thrive because they are well adapted to the environment
    • Non-Native
      • Move or carried here through an unnatural process
      • New location devoid of competition and predators
        • Purple loosestrife
        • Eurasian water milfoil
        • Reed canary grass
        • Curly-leaf pondweed
        • Yellow water Iris
        • Flowering rush
        • European frog-bit
        • Hydrilla
        • Ornamental water Lilies
        • Water chestnut

Leaf Cleanup

  • Rake leaves soon after falling

Rain Gutters

  • Directed onto the lawn


  • May contain phosphorus

  • Use ones without phosphorus

  • Do not bath in lake

  • Do not wash pets in lake

  • Do not wash car on property or park on lawn while washing

    • Wash pollutants in to lake
      • Soil
      • Nutrients
      • Hydrocarbons
      • gasoline

Septic System Maintenance

  • Make sure it is properly maintained

  • Pump it when it needs pumping

    • Use a knowledgeable contractor
  • Left on maintained will cause the septic to fail

    • Public health problem and violates local laws
  • Do not dump chemicals down sink or toilet

    • Will kill good bacteria
  • Do not use a garbage disposal

Pet Management

  • Contribute to excess nutrients

  • Health hazard

  • Clean up after pet as soon as possible

  • Keep cats inside

  • Train dogs to not chase wildlife or restrain them


  • Tall grass does not cause a mosquito problems

  • Need mosquitoes standing water

    • Remove clogged rain gutters, tire swings, whiskey barrel planters, neglected bird paths, and old pails
  • Un-mowed area near water increase the predators of mosquitoes

  • Plant repentant plant

    • Citronella, chamomile, basil, evening primrose, peppermint, comfrey, cloves, garlic, and thistle
  • Put up bat houses

Enhancing Lakeshore Habitat

  • Nest boxes

    • Purple martin
    • Tree swallow
    • Eastern bluebird
    • House wren black-capped chickadee
    • Barred owl
    • Screech-owl
    • Wood duck
    • Hooded merganser squirrel
    • Common goldeneye
    • Common merganser

Enhancing Lakeshore Habitat

  • Snag Management

    • Snag is a dead tree either fallen or standing
    • Habitat
      • Flickers and Woodpeckers--downy, hariy, red-bellied, and pileated
      • Red, gray, and fox squirrels
      • Wood ducks
      • Great crested flycatcher, Tree swallow, Eastern bluebirds, House wrens and Black-capped chickadees
      • White breasted nuthatches, Brown creeper, and Eastern kingbirds
      • Bald eagles and Osprey
      • Salamanders
      • Snakes
      • Insects
      • Turtles
      • Ducks
      • Eastern phoebes, purple martins, and belted kingfishers

Lakescaping Examples

  • Fish Lake

Thank You!

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  • Gervais Lake

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  • Big Sandy Lake

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  • Big Marine Lake

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