Go natural and native
Native plant gardens are a great way to make your yard sustainable. Native gardens provide many benefits:
- Lower maintenance cost—Natural landscapes require much less time, money, and effort to maintain once they are established. Long-term needs for irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are virtually eliminated.
- Beauty and increased property value—Many studies find that homes with natural landscapes have higher value. Mature trees can increase property values by thousands of dollars.
- Reduced soil erosion and run-off—Native plants and trees reduce the flow of run-off, decrease erosion and increase infiltration of rainwater. These benefits protect our water quality and increase groundwater recharge.
- Wildlife habitat—Diverse, naturalized plantings will provide homes and food for all kinds of critters and bring interest and beauty to your property.
Keep your shoreline natural
If you own property along a shoreline, what should do you do when you find out your lake has been placed on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) Impaired Waters list? If you were Nancy Carver of Little Rock Lake near Rice, Minn., you would start attending workshops and reading everything you could about restoring your shoreline and helping to make a lake healthy again.
“What I learned was making sure to have a properly working septic system and restoring a natural shoreline were two important things lake home owners could do on their own. My septic system checked out ok so the next step was to make the shoreline environmentally friendly to the lake,” says Nancy. The first things she did were to stop mowing all the way to the shore and plant some new native grasses to develop a buffer to the lake.
Shoreline restoration: Nancy Carver of Rice, Minn., has led by example by restoring her shoreline on Little Rock Lake to native flowers and grasses during the past two years. She is helping educate her neighbors on how to develop restoration plans for their shorelines.
- Minnesota DNR Lakescaping and Shoreline restoration page: planning tools, examples, and grants.
- Minnesota DNR Landscaping with Native Plants page: garden designs & native plant suppliers.
- Blue Thumb: resources to create native gardens, rain gardens, and shoreline stabilization.
- Minnesota Native Plant Society: field trips, monthly programs, and a quarterly newsletter.
- Making Wildlife Habitat at Home: certify your native gardens through the National Wildlife Federation's Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.