With great waterfront property comes great responsibility. At least that is what every real estate agent should tell their clients as they embark on their lakefront home journey. Living on a watershed means you have daily & direct impact on the lake or river your home is near. How you fertilize, water your plants, pave your driveway, roof your home: these things all impact immediately and directly on the lake you love.
This means that your landscape designer should be something of a watershed expert. They should have contacts with the lake association and local conservation groups. They should also know how to make what is ecologically necessary be aesthetically pleasing & functional.
You will hear a lot of jargon thrown around, words like riparian, greenbelt, nutrient heavy all make sense to those in the know. But, to the outsider the language of conservation can be daunting. If your designer/installer can't explain to you in laymen terms what needs to happen then chances are they can't do the work appropriately either. Do your homework when you hire. To help you with this here are a few terms and definitions.
Riparian Habitat: The space where the land meets the water. This strip of territory is vitally important to the health of watersheds. It offers habitat for plants, animals, and micro biota that keep the water column healthy and fun for your family. An example of a damaged riparian habitat is a steel break-wall at the waters edge to stop erosion. This system does what it claims: stops erosion, but it also completely destroys the riparian.
Greenbelt: On a lakeshore a greenbelt is the 50' between the high water mark and your home. If this area looks manicured and unnatural it is not a very efficient or effective greenbelt. A greenbelt on a lakeshore is defined by the Lake Charlevoix Association as "This narrow strip of land is your “greenbelt” and is nature’s way of protecting our shoreline from erosion, harmful runoff, and invasive plant species." For great info on lakeshore matters follow this link.
Nutrient & Phosphate Heavy: This refers to the amount of "food" you are sending into the lake or watershed from your landscaping. Algae feeds on excessive nutrients in the water column. The biggest cause of unsafe algal blooms in the Great Lakes is Phosphorous from farming, landscaping, and storm water runoff. You can prevent contributing to the problem of dangerous algal blooms by making a few simple choices. 1. Don't use any fertilizer containing Phosphorous (for the article on safe fertilizers follow this link) 2. Create a place for runoff to be cleaned before entering the watershed by building a rain garden 3. Keep and maintain a healthy greenbelt.
These are the biggest changes you can make to your watershed adjacent yard to make the biggest difference for the lakes, rivers, streams and ponds you love in Northern Michigan.