Did you know that lawns are the main source of ecological degradation of lakes? Lawns are more harmful to lakes than toxic substances or waste from individual sewage systems. It seems hard to believe since lawns are so beautiful to look at! However, humans are the only ones who think that a lake surrounded by lawns is a “beautiful” lake. As far as lakes and wildlife are concerned, a “beautiful” lake is one that is still surrounded by natural vegetation. What appears “beautiful” to us is not necessarily beneficial to lakes.
Wherever there is a lawn, there is deforestation. Wherever there is deforestation, there is degradation! The immune system of a lake is the forest that surrounds it. Of course, a healthy lake can make some allowances to satisfy some of our needs. Nevertheless, it cannot tolerate lawns along its shoreline or within its forestial border. Lakes abhor all excesses created by humans.
The evils of lawns

Some cottagers adore their lawns. On the other hand, lakes cannot tolerate lawns: they make them sick. Not surprising! Whenever lawns are found along the shores of lakes, the results are felt in various ways such as warming of the water, over fertilization, increased water flow, erosion and biological desolation.

Fertilizer. Healthy green lawns have usually been sprayed with fertilizer. Unfortunately, a vast amount of this fertilizer gets washed into the lake by rainwater thus contributing to the over fertilization of the lake water. As a result, the aquatic plants begin to multiply at an excessively high rate.

Warming of the water. Over fertilization is not the only problem that a lake has to face. When forests are replaced by lawns, the lakes have too much and to direct exposure to the sun resulting in the warming of the water temperature. The lake has a burst of high fever and the warm water also contributes to excessive growth of aquatic plants and even algae blooms. Moreover, trout suffer due to this warming trend. Trout like cool water and are constantly searching for shaded areas near the natural shoreline. Trout don’t like lawns.

Increased water flow. The humus found in the forest easily retains the rainwater, even on very steep slopes. This helps control the water flow into the lake and prevents excessive water intake. Lawns, however, retain very little rainwater and consequently, the level of lakes rises after a rainfall. The difference between low and high levels becomes greater making for scary rises followed by low dry periods.

Erosion. During a rainstorm, millions and millions of raindrops come down in the forest and are slowed down in their path by the presence of leaves and shrubs. When the drops finally reach the ground, they have no longer the strength to cause erosion. However, when a forest is replaced by a lawn, it is a totally different story. The raindrops hit the soil with full force and at a very high speed thus creating erosion. Lawns cannot prevent erosion, except in a very superficial way.

Biological desolation. Fish need food to survive; insects are a crucial element of their diet. A great number of those insects come from trees, shrubs and plants growing along the shoreline of lakes. The natural vegetation supplies food for the fish. Unfortunately, lawns are like biological deserts.

The sun
Even though lawns have many negative attributes, they nevertheless provide us with a sunny spot where we can enjoy the sun and recharge our batteries. Isn’t sunshine part of cottage life? It is not surprising that cottagers regard a deck, a patio or a grassy area as an essential element of the property. It provides a pleasant corner where one can sit and enjoy the summer sun. How can we protect the lake and still enjoy the sun? Is it possible to have a lawn and protect the lake at the same time? Yes, but under one condition: the lawn must be located beyond the shore land (10 to 15 meters from the shoreline). The vegetation of the shore land must be present to stop the fertilizer from going to the lake to protect the lake from too much sun. Warning! Not only must the lawns be kept 10 to 15 meters away from the shoreline, they must also be reduced to the smallest possible size.

In the city, lawns give life to a sterile environment greatly covered with asphalt, concrete and stones. Green spaces greatly improve the quality of life of citizens. However, it is a whole different story around lakes. Lawns don’t improve the environment of lakes. They are a negative attribute. A lawn is like a wasteland whereas a forest is a rich and diversified natural environment.