By April Overall
There’s nothing more relaxing than listening to crickets when you’re falling asleep. Except sitting on the dock, watching a loon with her young. Or taking a late afternoon paddle on the lake with your family. Enjoying time at the cottage is truly renewing for your psyche. So how can you give back?
Planting native plants along your shoreline is the best way to stop runoff from happening. To get an idea of what kind of vegetation you should plant, take a look around your property and see which ones are most abundant and thriving. You should also plant cavity, mast, and coniferous trees. In Ontario alone, more than 50 species of birds and mammals rely on cavity trees for their survival. Trees that produce fruit and seed like maple, elm, oak and beech (mast trees) offer wildlife some healthy fats to tide them through the winter, while coniferous trees provide amazing shelter for wildlife.
Build a Better Path
Did you know improperly built paths can cause erosion? If your path leads straight from your cottage down to the water, it could be carrying soil and runoff right along with it. You want to build a path that follows the contours of the slope in an S curve pattern to avoid erosion. Better yet, lay gravel, mulch and wood chips on the path to protect it from the elements.
Swap Your Motorized Boat for a Canoe
Who knew boat wake could do so much damage? It can cause erosion when the waves crash against the shoreline, and can also flood the nests of loons and waterfowl. Why not swap your motorized boat for a canoe or paddle boat once in a while instead? You’ll be more likely to see wildlife since you won’t disturb them as you paddle by them. If you just can’t get rid of your jet ski, slow down to 10 kilometres an hour within 30 metres of the shore to reduce your impact.
Retire Your Lawn
Isn’t the whole point of a cottage to relax? Who needs an afternoon of lawn mowing, anyway? Over 55 per cent of precipitation runs off lawns – taking with it all the fertilizers and pesticides used on it. By retiring your lawn and planting native plants instead, you’ll be saving yourself a ton of time and the planet too.
Pick the Perfect Dock for Your Cottage
Some docks can disturb fish habitat and damage shorelines. But there are environmentally friendly docks out there that don’t disturb the bottom of the lake or upset fish habitat. Our favourites? Pipe docks, cantilever docks (which sit entirely out of the water), and floating docks.
Check Your Septic System
If you’ve got a septic system, you’ll want to be sure to check it every three to five years. When you leave it too long, the nutrients and pollutants in household wastewater like nitrogen and phosphorous in the tank can seep into ground and surface water. Blech.
You don’t need glaring lights to light your path to the water. In fact, bright lights can negtively affect wildlife by changing how they forage for food, mate, hibernate and migrate. Get motion detectors for lights around the cottage, and put solar lights in the ground along your path to the water.