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Waterfront and Watershed Area Management Practices

The best management practices in this checklist will help you become a better environmental steward. This information comes from a variety of sources, which provide in-depth information on the importance of these practices and how to implement them. For further information ask any Lake Arrowhead Lakes Committee member.

Important note: There are federal, state and local laws and regulations that govern many aspects of shoreline property maintenance, including remodeling, cutting vegetation, landscaping and building on lands within the shoreline zone (which is usually within 300 feet of a stream or 1000 feet of a lake).

Lawn care

  • Replace a large lawn with a smaller lawn area with shrub borders and native plantings to replace the lawn area.
  • Choose native trees, grasses or groundcovers that minimize maintenance, fertilizer and pesticide application.
  • Allow natural vegetation to re-establish itself.
  • Water infrequently but thoroughly.
  • Mow only when necessary - the ideal height for healthy grass is 2.5-3 inches.
  • Use non-motorized lawn mowers for small lawns.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn.
  • Avoid using fertilizers and broadleaf herbicides.
  • Consider an organic lawn care service.
  • If fertilizer use is necessary, use a phosphate-free fertilizer, once a year, in the fall. Do not apply within 10 (or more) feet of a body of water.
  • Pull weeds by hand in small yards.
  • Rake leaves as soon as possible after they fall; DO NOT put them into the lake.


  • Maintain a natural landscape instead of a lawn, i.e., keep or replenish native trees, woody plants, shrubs, wildflowers, native grasses and a ground cover of low-growing vegetation.
  • Leave or maintain a buffer zone of natural native vegetation along the lakeshore.
  • Plant native bulbs, perennial flowers and similar ground cover to add color.
  • Preserve or re-create a natural, wooded setting. You can have a wooded setting and still maintain the view of the lake. Many landowners find that trees add a scenic “frame” to the lake’s “portrait”.
  • Ensure that you have appropriate storm water and erosion controls that follow the natural contours of the land and use materials and systems that promote infiltration rather than runoff. See the Green Built Home Checklist (found at for specific infiltration techniques.
  • Limit paving, sidewalks, driveways and rooftop areas - these tend to encourage erosion.
  • Consider planting a rain garden, which will promote rainwater infiltration and help control runoff.
  • Refer to the Green Built Home Checklist for additional landscape conservation and storm water management techniques.

Shoreline, Wildlife Habitat and Aquatic Plant Protection

  • Maintain a natural shoreline.
  • Preserve aquatic plants. Remove only the plants absolutely necessary for swimming or boating.
  • Re-establish rooted aquatic plants.
  • Use organic materials(shrubs, brush, logs, etc.) combined with plants for erosion control.
  • Use riprap (specific gradations of rock along the shore) only if organic materials are not effective in controlling erosion.
  • Preserve or reestablish existing vegetated stream corridors.
  • Ensure that there is adequate and appropriate stream bank vegetation.
  • Preserve trees, trees that have fallen in lakes, tree trunks and branches to provide protection for fish and aquatic life.


  • Locate your cultivated and/or vegetable garden away from the shoreline.
  • Plant a wide variety of plants and rotate them from year to year.
  • Plant early in the season to avoid peak pest populations and remove pest infested plant material by hand rather than use pesticides.
  • Test your soil to determine nutrient needs and proper pH.
  • Till or weed instead of using herbicides.
  • Remove large insects by hand.
  • Avoid pesticide use.

Building and Remodeling

  • Follow the guidelines outlined in this checklist.
  • Consult the Green Built Home Checklist for more recommendations on landscape conservation and enhancement, measures to protect topsoil and control erosion, and storm water management through use of permeable paved surfaces and rain water dispersion/diversion.
  • Construct docks, decks, and other outdoor structures from sustainable, low-toxicity materials such as ACQ treated wood or recycled plastic composite materials (no CCA-Chromated Copper Arsenate-treated lumber).
  • Maintain the existing elevation of the lot so as to not significantly change the flow of water from the land.
  • Place buildings and other structures away from ravines, dry creek beds, and other such waterways.


  • Become involved with your local lake association - do something positive for your lake and meet your neighbors in the process.
  • Sweep driveways and sidewalks instead of washing down.
  • Use no- or low-phosphorus detergents and use soaps and other cleaning agents carefully-never allow them to wash into a lake, stream or wetland.
  • Pick up and dispose of pet / goose waste immediately, properly and away from the water.
  • Keep garden and grass clippings and leaves out of the water.
  • If possible, wash your car or truck on the grass rather than the driveway. Use a small amount of no-phosphate detergent.
  • Compost yard and vegetable waste.

The following publications can provide you with more information about lakeside living and are available as noted below.

Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality.
Dindorf, Carolyn J.; Henderson, Carrol L.; and Rozumalski, Fred J.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. $19.95.
Available from the Minnesota Bookstore, 117 University Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55155.
Call (800) 657-3757 or (651) 297-3000.

Life on the Edge... Owning Waterfront Property.
Dresen, Michael C. and Korth, Robert M. $10.00 (plus $2.00 shipping and handling).
Available from UWEX-Lakes Partnership. College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI 54481 or call (715) 346-2116.