Lake Protection Practices


In a column dealing with plants, you are asking what the title has to do with anything. By next July, 2005, a law already on the books mandates direct erosion on lakeshores will have to be stopped. Eroded areas will have to be stabilized. This is long overdue and is in the best financial and aesthetic interest of owners of lakeshore property.

The largest single pollutant of our lakes is uncontrolled runoff. For every increment of discoloration in a lake's water, property values go down dramatically. You can probably think of lakes that are so murky you would not want to swim in the water. The solution is buffer planting.

Buffer planting is encouraging or installing multi-tier plants along the shore and away from the shore. It is recommended this strip be at least 25' from high-water mark going away from the water. Multi-tier is, simply, planting groundcovers, shrubs, and trees of various heights in order to break up rain droplets and filter surface water.

Properly planned, the lake dweller can still see the view. This also does not mean eliminating your path to the water, although it is wise to make this a winding one. One good tree to use is birch. This plant grows fairly fast and is fairly narrow. Often, it loses lower branches, or you can prune them, and it becomes a canopy tree. Hackberry, Locust, Catalpa, and Ash are also fairly fast growing trees. They adapt well to varying soils once established and are not so dense you lose the view.

It is advisable to plant some smaller trees, in terms of mature height, in order to get some mid-tier growth. These need to be sited properly because at full growth they will be directly in any view line. Serviceberry (Shadblow), Gray Dogwood, Pagoda Dogwood, Corneliancherry Dogwood, Winter King Hawthorn, Hoptree, Tree Lilac, and Mountain Ash are good choices depending on soil and other conditions.

There are too many shrubs and groundcovers to mention and your local nursery is the best place for advice for your site. Just remember, the key is to break up direct rainfall and slow down surface runoff. This is important for the quality of your lake and to be in compliance with the law. If you have questions, the Dep't. of Environmental Protection, at 287-7688, is a good resource. Also, your county Soil and Water Conservation Districts can help with advice.


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Poland Spring, Maine
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