Techniques abate erosion, aid Mother Nature
Six years ago, when Steve Hall and family took up residence on Boulder Lake, the lawn met the water's edge. Three years later, countless hours of weed whipping logged, Hall asked, "What am I doing this for?" Hall, who has 30 years' experience in ...
Six years ago, when Steve Hall and family took up residence on Boulder Lake, the lawn met the water's edge.
Three years later, countless hours of weed whipping logged, Hall asked, "What am I doing this for?"
Hall, who has 30 years' experience in the landscape industry, determined a buffer zone would emerge at the water's edge.
Frogs are croaking ballads of gratitude - while laying their eggs on the stems of lily pads. Turtles are taking up residence. And boaters' heads are turning as they sail by, dazzled by a lush assortment that, by August, becomes a plethora of color and bloom.
"A buffer zone is the number one thing a person can do to protect the lakeshore," said Hall, who has initiated Shoreline Creations to address the issue on area lakes.
"We are fortunate to have clean water," he said. "Lakeshore owners have a responsibility to protect the lakes."
Erosion had triggered his decision to employ his landscaping degree in his own backyard.
"I decided to save maintenance time, add beauty, protect the shoreline and add a corridor for wildlife," he said. "When you establish a buffer zone, wildlife returns."
In the last three years, during the buffer zone's development, Hall has become a "student of the field," studying where plants do their best, "developing a relationship" with sub-emergent weeds.
His buffer zone/garden holds more than 20 varieties of native perennial wildflowers - black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, aster, fireweed, Joe Pye weed, ironweed, monkey flower, great lobelia and northern bedstraw among them.
"I have volunteers arriving every season," he said. Some of the plants have "moved" from the shore, some have simply appeared. The wooden anemone has made its way down from the end of the garden.
The key to these plants is their deep root systems, he explained. Average turf grass roots are 4 to 6 inches; native plants send roots 2 feet or deeper. "Much better for filtering," he explained. "They trap sediment."
Buffer zones also have the ability to filter nutrients and pollutants running off impervious surfaces.
"Buffer zone" conjures thoughts of plants with mere utilitarian qualities. "People think it hinders the view," he said. But native perennial wildflowers enhance the vista - the enjoyment doubling when they bloom.
Come spring, Hall cuts the plants to the ground to disperse seed heads in the buffer zone. "They find their spot. Nature takes over," he said.
Less time is spent maintaining a buffer zone than would be spent grooming the lawn it's replacing, he said.
Hall will offer guidance in installing a plant community that does well in a given environmental area.
Installation is the key, he said. "Buffer zones require expertise and plant knowledge. Success is based on planning and site preparation. It's a large undertaking."
Adding a buffer zone, stabilizing the shoreline, is creating a legacy, something for which turtles and frogs and humankind will be grateful in the years ahead.
Hall will discuss buffer zones at lake association meetings upon request, fielding questions and supplying information.
He may be reached at 732-8907, appropriately residing on Floral Lane.