Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 16, 2013

Learn to love lake, plant friendly natives

Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — What lakefront property owner wouldn’t appreciate the pristine, relaxing environment found right at the water’s edge?

For most of us, it seems logical for our lush, green lawns to be clear of vegetation right down to the gently lapping waves. However, what is not widely known is that Michigan lakes have naturally built in "quality control" systems right where the water meets the land.

Native plants are divided into four shoreline planting zones:

- Below the Water Level: These are the plants that are found in the aquatic zone. Use these plants for planting areas within the lake.

- Between the Water Level and the Ordinary High Water Mark: These plants like it wet but do not like to actually be in the lake. They can handle frequent water level changes ranging from being flooded for days at a time to being dry for short periods of time. These plants are also the best ones to withstand the energy produced from wave action and winter ice.

- Above the Ordinary High Water Mark: These plants are still considered wetland plants, but they are typically further from the lake edge. They like the soil to be consistently moist and they can handle a small amount of flooding. They do not like the constant stress that comes from waves and ice.

- Upland Plants: These plants like dry conditions. This section was included to provide homeowners with native plant suggestions to use in the remaining part of the landscape.

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