MERRIFIELD - Tom and Betty Rosenberger have had plush green grass in their back yard for years - the kind of yard that most homeowners yearn for.
The only problem for the Rosenbergers was that the grass went down to the water's edge of North Long Lake and the couple wanted to improve the quality of the lake.
Tom and Betty Rosenberger's shoreline on North Long Lake after the couple enrolled in the Thirty Lakes Watershed District's cost-share program to improve the quality of the lake. Brainerd Dispatch/ Jennifer Stockinger » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"You can't help it, but when you cut the lawn or fertilize it the grass clippings and the fertilizer go into the lake," Tom Rosenberger said. "We used a phosphorus-free fertilizer, but we still didn't like it draining into the lake. And then there was the danger of mowing by the lakeshore because of all the rocks. We wanted to protect the lake."
And that's just what the Merrifield couple did.
Tom and Betty Rosenberger's shoreline on North Long Lake last fall, before the couple enrolled in the Thirty Lakes Watershed District's cost-share program to improve the quality of the lake.
Rosenberger, a North Long Lake Association member, said the Thirty Lakes Watershed District was the answer. The Rosenbergers called up the watershed and enrolled in its cost-share program. The watershed began the program last year - it handles 50 percent of the cost in stormwater control, rain gardens and shoreland buffers.
Marty Peisch of Thirty Lakes said the watershed wanted to give homeowners an incentive for improving their lake quality and groundwater.
"We started this last year and we've done eight to 10 projects in the watershed district," Peisch said. "Homeowners have to use native plants and use our best management practices. So far we've done two rain gardens and the rest were shoreline projects on Hubert Lake and North Long Lake."
Tom and Betty Rosenberger of Merrifield on Tuesday looked at the brown-eyed Susans they planted along their shoreline on North Long Lake. Brainerd Dispatch/ Jennifer Stockinger » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Peisch said the watershed budgeted $10,000 this year and increased funding to $25,000 for 2010 in hopes that more people will enroll in the program.
"We're hoping this has a snowball effect," Peisch said. "The Rosenbergers have already inspired two residents on North Long Lake (to do projects.)"
The Rosenbergers' project encompassed 115 feet of shoreline. Rosenberger said the project began last fall. Several feet of shoreline grass was killed off and wild flowers, native prairie plants and selected shrubs were planted in the spring - about 100 plants in all, he said.
The Rosenbergers did not have to do the work alone. With the cost-share program, Peisch said volunteers help with the project. Many are master gardeners and community members. Watershed staff helped guide the project.
Tom Rosenberger worked last fall on his shoreline on North Long Lake. Rosenberger worked with the Thirty Lakes Watershed District's cost-share program to improve the quality of the lake.
Peisch said the program is gaining popularity and she hopes the number of projects grows.
"The Rosenbergers have an enviable strip of wildflowers along their shoreline, with the promise of even more species blooming in coming years," Peisch said. "Not only is it pleasant to look at, it's one family's contribution to the improvement of water quality in North Long Lake."
The Rosenbergers are pleased with the overall look.
"Now it's easier to mow the lawn and there is no question on grass clippings," Tom Rosenberger said. "And I'm not mowing around rocks or worried about getting fertilizer into the lake."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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