By limiting exotic introductions: Perhaps the most important way to control invasive aquatic plants is to prevent their spread. By being aware of the problem and acting accordingly, expensive and difficult corrective actions are not necessary. Before leaving a lake or river with a boat, drain all water out of the live and transom wells. Inspect the boat and trailer, paying particular attention to the lower part of the motor and propeller, the trailer axle, rollers, and the hitch. Remove any attached vegetation, even if you do not think it is an exotic species. Transportation of any aquatic plant on public roads is illegal in Minnesota.
Some exotic plants were introduced by the aquarium and landscaping trade. Do not dump aquarium plants into lakes, streams, stormwater basins, or created ponds. Also, when landscaping a waterside, make certain the plants you use do not contain restricted exotics.
By limiting nutrient enrichment: Limiting the amount of nutrients entering a lake is a good way to reduce long-term plant growth. If you live on or near a lakeshore, use only the recommended amount of fertilizer and apply it only in the fall. use a no- or low-phosphorus fertilizer. Leave a buffer zone of unmowed, unfertilized lawn between the yard and the lake, or establish a filter strip of native vegetation. Never fertilize right up to the lake edge. Collect and compost lawn clippings and fallen leaves. Do not rake them into the lake or burn them near the shore. Finally, be sure that your septic system is operating correctly and not draining into the lake. For other ideas on how to limit nutrient input into bodies of water, refer to the Shoreland Best Management Practices packet from the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Minnesota Arrowhead Water Quality Team.
By sustainable lawn care: Manage lawn and garden through sustainable management practices which promote low inputs of fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides into your yard. For instance, some grasses do not grow well in shady areas and the gardener might be tempted to use fertilizers and herbicides to encourage growth. Instead, replace grasses in shady areas with shade-tolerant ground covers. If weeds become a problem, spot spray weeds or remove them by hand. For more information, refer to Sustainability in Urban Ecosystems, a bulletin (FO-6709) and video (VH-6639) available from the University of Minnesota Extension Service at (612) 625-8173.
Leaves, grass clippings, and granules of fertilizer left on paved surfaces all find their way into your lake. Compost the leaves and grass clippings, and use a drop spreader for better control when fertilizing. If a buffer zone of native vegetation separates your grass from the lake, leave grass clippings on the lawn, whether or not you have a mulching mower. Lawn clippings do not contribute to thatch build-up, because clippings decompose rapidly and add nutrients to the soil. Leaving the clippings all season is equivalent to one fertilizer application, saving money and time. When mowing, keep the turf height at about three inches, mow frequently, and take off no more than one-third of the leaf blade at a time so as not to stress the plants. All these methods promote turf growth and health in a more sustainable way.