Part 3: Planting native plants in your own back yard – a cure for extinction?

HSCW_logoThe good news is that we can restore, enhance or naturalize shorelines to make them more appealing to wildlife while protecting water quality at the same time. It can be as simple as parking the lawn mower and just letting the grass grow wild along the shoreline. It’s less work for the landowner and definitely more palatable to an assortment of animals. Landowners can also plant a buffer of vegetation along the water’s edge enhancing habitat with planted native wildflowers, shrubs and trees. For those landowners who don’t have a shoreline, creating a patch of wildlife habitat in your garden would still enrich the diets of local animals. Flowers can provide pollen and nectar to bees, shrubs can serve up berries to birds, and trees can provide shelter and shade. Geese can be discouraged from using your yard if their sight lines are obscured by shoreline vegetation just slightly taller than them. And of course access to water can be maintained by means of paths, and planting appropriate vegetation that won’t grow to block the nice views.

Right now, Lower Trent Conservation is offering financial incentives through our Healthy Shorelines-Clean Water Stewardship Program to help landowners naturalize their shorelines. Landowners with stream, river, lake or pond shorelines are eligible to receive up to $500 to plant native plants to boost this dynamic habitat. The process begins with a free site visit to your property to discuss enhancement or naturalization options for your shoreline. Assistance with drafting a planting plan and suggestions of appropriate species are also offered. Once an application is submitted, a review committee decides which projects are awarded grants – and then the work (and the fun!) begins.

So, how about it? Why not spice up the look of your property and do your part to protect water quality while enticing wildlife to your colourful shoreline? Imagine the positive impact if neighbours followed your lead and naturalized their shorelines too. You might help some critter avoid extinction. All kinds of animals, big and small, would become regulars in the habitat you created and water quality would be better protected. But remember, all that action starts with the plants so grow some native species this year!

This is the final of a 3 part blog about the value and importance of natural shorelines. Interested in creating a natural shoreline on your property? You may be eligible for up to $1,500 in grants! Find out more about our Healthy Shorelines – Clean Water Stewardship Program at “http://www.ltc.on.ca/stewardship/hscwsp/.

Written by: Ewa Bednarczuk, Ecology & Stewardship Specialist with Lower Trent Conservation

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