Creating a Habitat Where Lake and Nature Thrive

Filed in Landscaping by on January 14, 2014

photo courtesy Landsburg Landscape Nursery When you own a lake home, the lake often becomes part of your family – you care about its health and worry about its future. It’s fun to be around, and you will do whatever you can to nurture it and make it comfortable.

There’s a lakeside-landscaping trend that has taken hold in the lakes areas and it’s the perfect opportunity for you to take care of “your” lake and spend lots more time enjoying its company.


Lakescaping is the concept of restoring a shoreline to its natural state – while still enjoying all the perks of lakeside living. “With some forethought and planning, lakescaping can be quite beautiful with color schemes, height and texture,” according to John Landburg, owner of Landsburg Landscape Nursery in Brainerd. It can be aesthetically pleasing, while protecting the lake and providing refuge for wildlife at the same time.

“It doesn’t have to be this great big weedy thing,” Landburg says

Lakescaping requires the creation of a buffer zone between your property and the lake, with an abundance of native plants, wildflowers and grasses, shrubs and tress. The overall intent is to help improve water quality by:

  •  Filtering out pollutants and runoff that degrade water quality
  •  Preventing shoreline erosion by absorbing wave action; and
  •  Creating a natural habitat for nature to thrive – everything from flowers to frogs and birds and butterflies.

In some jurisdictions, certain levels of lakescaping are mandatory in order to obtain permits.  “Twenty years ago if I had pitched something like this, people would have laughed at me and I wouldn’t have any work, but now people have warmed to the idea of lakescaping. It makes sense, “Landburg says.

It’s not all or nothing

Lakescaping isn’t all all-or-nothing concept – you can restore the majority of your shore to its natural state and still have manicured lawn access to the lake. For example, Landburg says he’s currently working with customers who have 110 feet of lakeshore and want to restore all but 25 feet.

“That 25 feet will be turf that allows the lakeshore owners to access their dock, and it provides a spacious open area for the grandkids to spread out their beach towels and enjoy the lakeside leisure with grandma and grandpa,” he says.

Lakescaping also has the potential to save time and money. There’s far less maintenance with a restored shoreline – no mowing costs, and if the ice heaves into your shore, landscape experts say vegetated soil is much easier and costly to repair versus hardscapes like boulders or timbers. Plus, less time mowing and weed whipping means more time fishing, lounging on the dock or playing a round of golf.

Lakescaping bonuses

Helping improve the water quality is the primary purpose of lakescaping, but there are several more “bonuses” to consider, too including:

  •  Native plantings are more resistant to drought, flood, insects and are naturally acclimated to the climate.
  •  Vegetation taller than 18-24 inches discourages nuisance geese.
  •  Even if your neighbors aren’t restoring their shore, your solo efforts can still help improve the lake’s wildlife habitat, water quality and fish.
  •  Plants in or near the water provide food and shelter for ducks, songbirds, and hummingbirds.
  •  Natural screening provides privacy.

Considering lakescaping?

Here’s what to expect when you contact a lakescaping professional to start your project:

  1.  Landscape design staff with meet with the clients to gather ideas and find common ground for what will work best to restore the shore so it looks good and is environmentally sound.
  2.  Then it’s time to deign the project and provide visuals for lakeshore owners to get a good look at what will eventually sprout and thrive on their shore.
  3.  A critical part of the shoreline restoration process is meeting of the state and government shoreline rule requirements. Be sure your landscaping professional will help you meet those mandates.
  4. Once the landscape is installed, most landscape companies will also work with lakeshore owners to provide suggestions for easy maintenance and upkeep.

“Once people see established projects growing and blooming, they’re excited to start their own lakescaping project,” Landsburg says.



Amy Chaffins is a writer from Alexandria. Photo courtesy of Landsburg Landscape Nursery.