Best Practices

Healthy Lakes includes 5 simple and inexpensive best practices that improve habitat and water quality on your lakeshore property.

We encourage do-it-yourselfers to use these practices but have also created a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Healthy Lakes grant for funding assistance. A requirement of grant-funded projects is a signed contract stating the lakeshore property owner will maintain the project for at least 10-years.

Illustration of five best practices used to improve lakeshore property, Illustration by Karen Engelbretson


Healthy Lakes projects, and the diversion and rock infiltration practices in particular, are not intended for heavily developed parcels, sites with large volumes of runoff, or sites with complex problems that may require engineering design. Technical assistance and funding are still available for these sites; contact your county land and water conservation department or local DNR lakes biologist for more information.

What is a

best practice?

A Best Practice is a proven method to produce desired results. In the case of Healthy Lakes, our team surveyed citizen, business, and agency partners to identify the top 5 best practices to improve habitat and water quality for typical lakeshore properties

What is a

Typical Lakeshore Property?

Typical lakeshore property is relatively flat, doesn’t drain a large area, and has some natural area. Healthy Lakes Best Practices probably aren’t a good fit if your property is on slopes greater than 20%, drains more than 2 acres, has substantial visible erosion, or is mostly cleared and covered with hard surfaces like rooftops, driveways, and roads.

Fish Sticks


Create fish and wildlife habitat.

fish

Fish Sticks are feeding, breeding, and nesting areas for all sorts of critters – from fish to song birds. They can also prevent bank erosion – protecting lakeshore properties and your lake.

Resources

  • peaceful lake scene with fish sticks placed along shoreline, pontoon boat in background
  • Cluster of fish sticks near shoreline
  • Fish swimming amongst cluster of fish sticks near shoreline
  • Underwater image of fish swimming amongst cluster of fish sticks near shoreline
  • cable around tree anchored to shoreline
  • cable around tree anchored to shoreline
  • fish sticks implemented along shoreline, Photo Credit: Pamela Toshner

350 ft2 Native Plantings


Improve wildlife habitat, natural beauty, and privacy, and decrease runoff.

icons frog butterfly songbird decrease runoff

Native Plantings include grasses and wildflowers with shrubs and trees. Choose a template based on your property and interests – from bird/butterfly habitat to a low-growing garden showcasing your lake view.

Resources

  • native garden planted along shoreline of beautiful home on a lake
  • Pontoon boat filled with friendly neighbors visiting in front of shoreline containing 350ft2 native plantings
  • 350ft2 Native Plantings along lake shoreline on a calm day, beautiful home in background, all flowers in full bloom
  • 350ft2 Native Plantings along shoreline, park shelter in background, taken on a beautiful fall day
  • Bright purple astors in a 350ft2 native planting along shoreline, bumble bee is sitting on the colorful blooms
  • illustration of 350ft2 native plantings diagram of suggested plant pairings
  • illustration of 350ft2 native plantings along shoreline, people and dog enjoy the lake on a summer day, boats in background

Diversion


Prevent runoff from getting into your lake.

fish

Diversion Practices move water to areas where it can soak into the ground instead. Depending on your property, multiple diversions may be necessary.

Resources

  • diversion practice implemented across pathway of home near a lake
  • Diversion practice implemented on hillside of a home near shoreline
  • Diversion practice redirecting street runoff

Rock Infiltration


Capture and clean runoff.

fish

Rock Infiltration practices fit in nicely along roof drip lines and driveways and provide space for runoff to filter itself. They work best if your soil is sandy or loamy.

Resources

  • rock infiltration implemented along side of house
  • Rock infiltration implemented along side of driveway, next to parked car, oil, water and sand collect in driveway and flow through rock infiltration
  • diagram of rock infiltration installation guidelines

Rain Garden


Create wildlife habitat and natural beauty while capturing and cleaning runoff.

fish

Rain gardens multi-task – they improve habitat and filter runoff while providing a naturally beautiful view.

Resources

  • rain garden collecting water off street
  • rain garden planted at end of dead end street near lakeshore
  • Purple coneflower in full bloom in rain garden
  • large rain garden planted atop a hill overlooking lake, pontoon boat in background on calm lake
  • large rain garden planted in yard near lakeshore. Photo Credit: Cheryl Clemens

More


Learn about other projects and simple actions you can take to protect your lake.

Protecting Your Waterfront Investment - 10 Simple Shoreland Stewardship Practices

Science of Healthy Lakes


The science of lake management has advanced significantly over the last few decades. We better understand natural science – how lakes function and the importance of shorelands to lake health, as well as the social science – how people and their attitudes and behaviors affect lakes.

Learn More