Top 10 Ways to Help the Lakes at Home

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 Vegetation - Top 10 Ways to Help the Lakes

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.

Example of a rain garden in Madison, WI

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.

Redirect your downspout to help the lakes

Redirect downspouts

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.

Pick up pet waste to help our lakes

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!

Limit salt use on roads, driveways, and sidewalks

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

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

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.

Plant home food gardens

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.

Inspire a friend or neighbor to help our lakes

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 - top 10 ways to help the lakes at home

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.

Nurseries and contractors in southern Wisconsin

ContractorLocation (WI)Native Plant Nursery ServicesShoreline Restoration ServicesRain Garden Services
Aspen Garden & LandscapeMadison
Barnes Inc.Madison
Bee Balm Wildscapes*Madison*Native garden design and planning
Blue Iris LandscapingMadison
Daniels General ContractorsMadison
Dixon Shoreline LandscapingPortage
Gnarly OakOregon
Good Oak LLCMadison
Meister’s K&M Tree and Landscaping Inc.Lodi
Minnesota Native LandscapesOnline Only
Plant DaneMadison
Prairie MoonWinona
Prairie NurseryWestfield
Riley Native Plant NurseryMt. Horeb
Tallgrass Restoration LLCMilton
Tend Native PlantsBlue Mounds
Two Ferns Native NurseryMadison
UW-Arboretum Native Plant SaleMadison

Thank you to our collaborators on this top 10 project

Resilient Landscapes Contributors 14May2020