by VLAWMO Technical Commission Member Chris Mann
People are drawn to water in landscapes. We enjoy watching it move and change with the weather. It is part of our lives. What we can do is manage the land on our property to create beautiful landscapes and help improve the water quality at the same time. Water sustains our landscapes, but often needs managing when there is too little or too much water.
In North Oaks, many homeowners have lots that are large, hilly, and have wet areas. In September, the Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization (VLAWMO), the City of North Oaks Natural Resources Commission and North Oak's Home Owners' Association (NOHOA) co-sponsored a "Soggy Yards Solutions" Workshop to help residents with water issues on their lots, whether it be wetlands, shorelines or pooling water in low lying areas.
Michael Keenan and Sam Geer of ReGEN Land Design presented "Water and the Landscape: Turning Problems into Beautiful Landscapes". Carefully crafted projects can create gardens that are not only attractive, but manage the water issues as well as help remove nutrients, heavy metals, and chemicals from the water.
Waterside gardens, as well as rain gardens, can be designed to be formal, "enhanced nature" or wild. The aesthetic strategy is to show intent and to show that it is a garden, using features such as hard edges, groupings with a sense of contrast and mass plantings show contrast and depth. Another technique is to design shoreline gardens and rain gardens to go with rest of plantings on property, using some of the same kinds of plants in both areas to tie them together. The garden can be designed to look any where from very formal to very natural. You can create a beautiful garden at the same time as helping the water quality and providing habitat for wildlife.
Another presenter was Kristine Jenson, Program Manager for VLAWMO, who gave information about VLAWMO's website and Cost Share program. At the website, you can find GIS mapping and get an aerial photo from 2012 of your property. Put in your address, key on right scroll to wetlands. The VLAWMO, national and DNR wetland designations are delineated there. VLAWMO wants your project e.g. rain garden, shoreline, wetland area to be successful. To help in doing so, the Cost Share Program will reimburse the homeowner up to $2000, at 75% reimbursement rate. Applications for Cost Share are available at the VLAWMO website at www.vlawmo.org. There is a limited amount of money available each year and applications must be approved be the VLAWMO Tech Commission. A number of North Oaks residents have already received cost share money for their projects. For more information, contact Jenson at email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her 651-204-6074.
Other consultants may be found on the Blue Thumb website.
The workshop was taped, and will be available on cable channel 16.