A partnership to develop the top 10 ways to help our lakes
Clean Lakes Alliance is collaborating with other community partners to reflect on what resiliency means for the environment and our community. We found that if everyone takes small actions at home, we can create a big impact for our lakes, and countless other environmental causes.
Some of our community partners aim to support pollinators, while others hope to grow healthy lawns. We can all be a part of the solution. In fact, you don’t need to live on the lakes to make a difference in our Yahara Watershed. Together, with our partners, we developed the following list of top 10 actions you can take at your home or business. These small actions can make our landscape more resilient and add up to big impacts for water quality.
Don’t forget to send in your photos and tell us which actions you implement at your home. We will use these ideas to inspire others to help our lakes too!
Top 10 ways to help the lakes at home
Plant native & diverse vegetation
Deep-rooted native plants and trees help absorb water and hold topsoil in place during rain events. As an added bonus, they will add beauty to your property and provide habitat for songbirds and butterflies.
- Best plants to help the lakes – from Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Create a rain garden
Not only will rain gardens capture stormwater runoff and beautify your property, they also provide biodiversity that helps butterflies and bees survive.
- Learn about how to build a rain garden from the Wisconsin DNR
- Rain garden video tutorial
This simple action allows you to redirect rainwater to your lawn or garden, while also reducing the amount of stormwater that goes to streets and directly into the lakes via storm sewers.
- Learn to redirect your downspout
Pick up pet waste & litter
This simple act helps reduce the potential of E. coli pollution from washing into our lakes and closing our beaches after rain events. If you don’t have a pet, simply pick up trash you may see on your walk to reduce pollution and make our community more beautiful for everyone!
Reduce salt use
Winter salt runoff into our lakes can be toxic to aquatic plants and animals. Reducing salt use does not need to compromise public safety. By shoveling snow, using sand, and limiting salt use, you can be lake friendly and safe at the same time.
Start home composting
Turn your food trash and yard waste into valuable, nutrient-rich compost that reduces fertilizer use and provides you with a cost-saving solution for use in your garden, planters, or rain garden.
Install a rain barrel
By capturing rainwater from your roof, rain barrels reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that reaches the lakes. Rain barrels also provide you with stored water that can be used on gardens and lawns.
- Learn to build a rain barrel
- City of Madison – build a rain barrel
Plant home food gardens
Planting a garden will provide food for you and your community. It also reduces transportation costs, provides a place for mulch and compost use, and helps infiltrate stormwater.
- Vegetable garden layout ideas
- Video tips for planting a garden
Inspire a friend or neighbor
Leading by example creates a large ripple effect! Can you inspire friends, family, and neighbors to adopt these actions at their own homes? Share what you’re doing or bring someone to a Clean Lakes Alliance event so they can learn more about helping our lakes.
Rake for leaf-free streets
Leaves contain phosphorus. When left in the street, stormwater passes through leaves like a teabag and brings the phosphorus with it. Raking leaves from the street edge (three feet from the curb) and onto lawns will help fertilize the grass and reduce cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms in our lakes.
- Learn about leaf management