The lakefront property of your dreams

Published 10:54 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Ask the Expert by Dick Rocklin

Lakeshore properties have many options for developing a beautiful landscape. Taking time to develop your home’s outdoor environment provides you with everlasting memories. Having the presence of water allows you to enjoy breathtaking views the whole year round. When developing your property that is close to the lake, be sure to check with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to see if any permits are required.

Dick Rocklin

Dick Rocklin

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The DNR has jurisdiction on all area below the high water level. Planting above the hardscape area usually follows local ordinances. Natural landscaping can be designed to enjoy nature. Log out a plan that includes sustainable plants such as perennials, grasses and prairie plants. Keep in mind that you need to control erosion so you can maintain a sustainable landscape.

Designing a nature landscape or building a hardscape area are two ways to enhance your lakeshore.

Before starting a nature landscape project, take time to determine what you want to attract into your area. You may want to attract butterflies, birds or wildlife. If you live on a hillside, it is important to plant sustaining nature plants that develop deep roots that control runoff and help with erosion control.

Using trees to accent your area will add beauty to your view. Some of the trees that are adaptable to these areas are red maple, black spruce, swamp white oak and cottonwood. These trees will provide the habitat with a shaded area. Grasses such as little bluestem will accent your lakeshore.

When selecting plants for the area, make sure they will provide the proper habitat for the attractions you desire. Lists of these plants can be obtained from the University of Minnesota Extension Service. Make sure you can enjoy your nature area by incorporating natural stone. Natural stone looks great in walkways, patios and fire pits. Some of the more popular ones are chilton desert and fondulac flagstone.

Hardscapes are another option — if you enjoy living on the water, hardscapes can provide you with a great entertainment area. Again, check with the DNR and your local ordinances to see if any permits are required.

Developing your hardscape as close to the water as possible will provide you with an entertainment area second to none. Riprap from the walls to the lake help secure your shoreline. Riprap comes in different colors and my recommendation is using 6-inch to 10-inch pieces of natural stone. Once the riprap is installed you can start designing your plans. I suggest building your first patio area as close to the water as possible. This provides not only a fantastic entertainment area but also a place to keep an eye on the family while they enjoy the lake. Depending on the slope of your lot, several walls may need to be constructed. You can construct your walls using large boulders or retaining wall blocks.

There are many options in designing patios. Available to you are several different styles of pavers. Use a circle kit to accent the middle of your patio. Use travertine slate landscape tiles or fieldstone landscape tiles to make your patio look and feel authentic. This will provide you with the look of natural stone. Building your steps out of stackable manufactured material that is 48-inches wide and 6-inches high will give the look of natural stone.

Outdoor living becomes a reality when you can add a bar, grill, fireplace, seat walls, fire pits and a free standing wall with pillars. Lighting is also a plus when designing your outdoor living area. The fire pits can be natural gas, propane or wood burning.

For more design features visit the Plaza Landscaping gallery, located in the store.

Start living your dream and enjoy your lakeshore living area!

Dick Rocklin is the owner of Plaza Landscaping in Albert Lea. Plaza Landscaping does landscaping work, lawn mowing, trimming and fertilizing, among others.