By Carol Markham
The dog days of summer are upon us, but landscaping and yard work is still in full swing! Most of us are enjoying COVID ‘stay-cations’ and spending quality time with our families, making home improvements and beautifying our yards and outdoor living space. If you are new to the Chautauqua Lake area or live on or near the lake, improving and enhancing your yard has taken on a whole new meaning now that we are home bound.
As homeowners are working diligently in their yards, we don’t want to forget the improvements we can do that not only beautify our yards and living space, but also work to enhance and improve the water quality and beauty of our lake as well! The lakefront shoreline that surrounds our lake is vital to its existence. It is the protective barrier that ensures a nice afternoon for boating, swimming, catching that elusive fish or simply enjoying the beautiful view and watching for wildlife. Without it, most of the good things about our lake would diminish entirely. Most lakefront shorelines include trees, small shrubs and native plants all designed by nature to protect our waters. The more natural barriers we remove, the more likely the lake will be negatively impacted by erosion and runoff. Eroded shorelines invite runoff carrying pesticides, chemicals and nutrients into the water that kill fish and promote the growth of aquatic weeds and harmful algae. Our understanding as homeowners of how we can better interact and adapt our landscaping practices to benefit the lake is key to maintaining its health. Simple acts such as keeping a healthy stand of shoreline vegetation and reducing water and chemicals used on your lawn can go a long way to keeping your lake healthy, clean and enjoyable year-round.
To help homeowners and educate them about lake friendly landscaping and lawncare, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy created “A Homeowners Guide to Lake Friendly Living: 5 simple strategies in your lawn and landscape practices that will conserve, protect and enhance your Chautauqua Lake Watershed.” This guide introduces new and old lakefront property owners to the relationship between land use/landscaping practices and water quality, along with concepts for watershed friendly landscaping. It encourages the use of best management practices regarding fertilizer use, shoreline buffers, landscaping waster and lawn care and mowing. It also introduces CWC’s new Lakescaping program, which promotes a healthier community one yard at a time, no matter where the homeowner lives or what size garden they want to create. The guide also provides a helpful resources page, giving homeowners access to additional sources for information and guidance on lake friendly living.
We are all in this together. The lake is a vital resource not only for the communities that rely on it for their social, economic and recreational activities, but also for the plants, insects and wildlife that live and thrive within it. This simple guide inspires communities and homeowners to connect and be a part of something – to understand and feel that their small yard will make a difference in protecting water quality. This guide gives communities the power to be the most influential component of preserving, protecting, and enhancing the health of the water that surrounds them. View or download it here: https://chautauquawatershed.org/watershed-stewardship/homeowners-guide/.
The real environmental impact lies in the hands of committed homeowners like you!