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Seminar in Ottertail to offer lakescaping, rain garden tips

A Lakescaping and Rain Garden Seminar will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at Thumper Pond, 300 Thumper Lodge Road in Ottertail.

According to the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lakes Associations (COLA), the event organizer, the seminar is billed as a Lakescaping and Rain Garden Seminar, but it is really a way to get energized and ready for spring while learning about native plants.

The speakers will dispel myths about native plants and unlock the secrets to a beautiful water wise landscape.

Carrol Henderson, the co-author of Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality, has a background in ecology, wildlife management and botany. Henderson joined the Department of Natural Resources in 1974 and is the unit supervisor for the Nongame Wildlife Program. He will unlock the secrets to creating a landscape that is beneficial for both wildlife and water quality.

Lynn Steiner, the author of Landscaping with Native Plants of Minnesota, is one of the best-known gardening writers in Minnesota; her photographs are a feast for the mind and the soul. She will dispel myths about native plants and provide information on those native plants that would best fit your residential landscape needs.

EOT SWCD offering financial incentives

A growing number of Otter Tail County residents are taking advantage of an incentive offered by East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District to protect and restore their shoreline and control runoff in a "green" way.

Attractive, low maintenance native plants are taking root across the County as lakeshore owners are discovering how well adapted, beautiful and beneficial they are.

The residents of area lakes are so enchanted by native plants that they are leading the effort to transform their properties to control erosion and improve water quality.

With expert help and financial assistance from the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District, some are using perennial native plants and creating eco-friendly shoreland areas to control erosion and others are installing rain gardens to absorb, filter and clean rain water.

In the process, they are finding that they are creating habitat for colorful butterflies, birds and beneficial insects.

The benefits of a natural shoreline

Many first-time lakeshore owners want their property to look like their property in the city, including a manicured lawn that stretches to the waterfront. However, homeowners are learning that they don't have to sacrifice their view or water access when they use native plants to protect their shoreline from erosion.

Homeowners are also finding out that the less work they do "to the shore" is the less work they have to do "at the shore" and the time once spent caring for a manicured lawn becomes time for gardening, fishing, reading and relaxing.

Rain gardens are hottest landscaping trend

All gardens serve a purpose. While the vegetable garden's purpose is to grow good things to eat, the rain garden's purpose is to act like a sponge to capture rain water and filter pollutants (such as pet waste, sediment, fertilizers and chemicals).

Ideally, a rain garden is planted with a variety of native plants that are adapted to the specific site conditions. However, the main difference between a rain garden and a vegetable garden or flower bed is that a rain garden is bowl shaped while other planting beds are mounded or flat.

Save the date

The seminar on April 27 is designed for anyone interested in learning about shrubs, plants and flowers native to our region. Whether you are a beginner or master gardener, whether you are a city dweller or own waterfront property, if you are in need of erosion control, want to help improve water quality and/or learn how to attract beautiful butterflies and birds to your back yard, this seminar is for you.

The seminar is open to the public and free of charge. It will last about two hours, however, attendees should allow time before and after to talk one-on-one with knowledgeable people who understand how to enhance the value of your property while protecting the health of the natural environment.