Aquatic plant stewardship

Stewardship: moving from short-term control to long-term prevention

Aquatic plant.Measures such as cutting, pulling, or using herbicides can control aquatic plants from season to season. But in the long run, the best way to combat excessive growth of aquatic plants is prevention--reducing the flow of nutrients, sediments, and exotic species moving into a lake or stream. Listed below are a few practical steps you can take to maintain good water quality-and prevent excessive plant growth-in your favorite lake or pond. It will take time before these steps improve water quality and reduce plant growth, but they are essential for sustaining and enhancing desirable plant communities in Minnesota lakes.


  • Use discretion when fertilizing your property (whether it is directly on the lakeshore or elsewhere within the lake's watershed). Have your soil tested to determine if you really need to fertilize. If fertilizing is necessary, be aware of local regulations before application. Water your lawn after fertilizing, but do not allow water to run off into streets or lakes. Also, clean up any fertilizer spilled onto roads or sidewalks.
  • Keep septic systems working properly.
  • Remove garden and grass clippings from street gutters, sidewalks and driveways. Compost the clippings or use them as garden mulch.
  • Maintain a vegetative "buffer zone"--a strip of unmanaged grasses and woody vegetation allowed to grow along the shoreline. This vegetation will help prevent soil erosion from the shoreland and will intercept some of the nutrients that would otherwise enter the lake.
  • Use low-or no-phosphorous soaps and detergents.
  • Avoid adding too many hard surfaces (roads, roofs, pavement) close to a lake. They can cause more nutrient-rich water to run into the lake.
  • Clean up after your pet. Flush the waste down a toilet or dispose of it away from the water or shoreline.
  • Keep livestock away from streams and lakes. Their waste adds unwanted nutrients and their hoofs erode banks.
  • Help stop the spread of undesirable exotic plants such as purple loosestrife, curlyleaf pondweed, and Eurasian watermilfoil. Clean your boat, motor, trailer, and other equipment of all aquatic vegetation immediately after leaving the water. Dispose of the plants on higher ground to prevent reintroduction into the water.
  • An application (36 kb) for a permit to transplant or collect aquatic plants is available as are instructions (93 kb) to complete the application.

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