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July Article

Do We Need to Conserve Water in the Land of 10,000 Lakes?


It's sometimes difficult for Minnesotans to appreciate water scarcity.  We are blessed with a multitude of amazing lakes, interesting ponds, mysterious creeks, and mighty rivers.  Throw a stone around here and you are likely going to hear it splashing into a lake or a river.  


The severe drought in the west has put California and water conservation in the national headlines.  Even though they are over a thousand miles away in an arid climate to begin with, it makes us think about our water, and our environment.   Minnesota, our slogan, our culture, tourism, agriculture, and many other industries are centered on our abundant water.  As plentiful as it is here, it is not inexhaustible.  


Over the last few years, in our own backyard, we heard about White Bear Lake and its water level decline.  Locally, this helped to sound the alarm that we have a finite amount of ground water, and most lakes and rivers are affected by ground water use.   Only around 10 to 25 percent of our annual rainfall is able to sink into the ground and replenish our aquifers.  Thus, it becomes really important for us to look at ways to conserve water, even in the Land of 10,000 Lakes!


Here are a few easy things you can do to conserve water:


1. Do you really use all of that incredibly needy turf grass? If you answered "heck no," consider removing at least a portion of it and plant gardens with native plants that require less water and no nutrient inputs.  Native plants, once established, survive extended periods of drought and don't require consistent watering like water-dependent turf grass.  Replacing turf along the water's edge not only saves water, but creates critical habitat and reduces erosion.




2. Capture rainwater for reuse! Cisterns, rain barrels, and other awesome stormwater capturing devices make it easy to collect and store rainwater for gardening uses. They come in a large variety of sizes to make it easy for you to water your gardens or lawns with rain water! Have irrigation? You could also install gauges on your sprinklers so they don't go off while it's raining-which will save a lot of water and avoid looking silly. You can also use rain gardens to capture water before it goes into storm sewers. They help water percolate back into the soil instead of running off. Native plants are often used in rain gardens because they can tolerate moist or dry conditions.


3. Are you watering your turf grass effectively?  You've always just thrown on the sprinklers for a few hours every other day, but is that the best method?   Turf grass in Minnesota only needs about 15 minutes of watering per session or one inch of water per week (about enough to fill up an empty tuna can). Also, make sure your sprinklers are only watering your lawn and plantings and aren't falling onto the driveway pavement where it will just wash away! You can also water in the early morning or later in the evening to prevent the water from quickly evaporating.


4. Check for leaks!  Sink, toilet, or garden hose leaks can waste a surprising amount of water, even if it is just a slow drip (1 leaky faucet that drips 1 drop per second wastes 2,082 gallons of water a year).  Remodeling your home or need new appliances? Look into energy efficient or water efficient models that can help save you money and water!  In some cases you can even get rebates from local government agencies to help pay for water efficient appliances.


5. Talk to your politicians! Let them know that you want to protect our waters and are interested in legislation that would help conserve it! Support and follow water use ordinances in your community which are there to promote water conservation.


It's up to all of us to help conserve our water to make sure it is plentiful for future generations.  More and more we are seeing the effects of climate change.  The experts suggest more erratic weather, which means that we could see an increased frequency of both floods and droughts.  It also means that we could eventually see ourselves in the same position as other states that are currently desperate for water.  If we all stay aware of our water use, we will make better decisions that will help to conserve the lakes, rivers, and aquifers that we depend upon and love!  


Native Plant of the Month
Anise Hyssop          
Agastache foeniculum

Moisture: Moist or Dry
Exposure: Sun or Partial Shade
Bloom: July-September
Color: Purple
Height: 3-4 Feet

A perennial with 4-sided stems that is typical of Mint Family members.  Anise Hyssop has dense terminal spikes of blue flowers.  The top side of their leaves are a dull green with a whitish underside due to short hairs.  If you crush the leaves the foliage has a black licorice or anise smell.  This plant is more resistant to drought than others in the Mint Family.  It is pollinated by honeybees, bumblebees, and other bees seeking pollen.  Their flowers are also attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds for the nectar.  The seeds are also a great food source for gold finches and other birds in the fall.  It propagates by division and seeds and grows best in dry upland woods and prairie.  Deer don't like the plant because of its aromatic oils.  The flowers are edible and the leaves are used to make tea.  Used medicinally for coughs, fevers, and diarrhea.  Other common names are blue giant hyssop and licorice mint.

Invasive Plant of the Month

Curly Dock

Rumex crispus


Exposure: Sun or Partial Shade

Moisture: Dry or Moist

Height: 1-5 Feet

Blooms: June-July


Curly dock is a weedy perennial from Europe. It has long leaves that have wavy, curled edges and can be about 5 inches long. Larger leaves are at the bottom of the plant with smaller leaves found on the stem. The flowers are clustered around branches coming out of the main stem. They are small and turn rusty brown with the rest of the plant as it matures. The plant has a long taproot that can be hard to pull out. Maintenance strategies include spraying the plant when it is small, hand pulling it, and removing the seed heads to prevent it from spreading. 

Pollinator of the Month

Viceroy Butterfly

Smaller Viceroy with a black vein going through its bottom hindwings.

Limenitis archippus


Range: Most of United States and into Mexico

Habitat: Wet meadows and wetlands. 

Identification: They are very similar to monarchs with the rusty orange color, black margins, and white dots. However they are smaller than Monarchs and have a black vein going through their hindwings. They also have a

Larger Monarch without a black vein going through its bottom hindwings

 distinguishable black triangle on their upper wings that have white dots. 

Pollination: Adults feed on many native plants including Joe Pye Weed, Aster Species, goldenrod, and more!

July 2015 Issue
Our Company
Retail Nursery News
Our Retail Nursery is open!. Come visit us during these dates in July!

We are open from 10AM-4PM

Friday July 17th
Saturday July 18th

Click and visit our website for current
Minnnesota Native Plant Brand ensures that plant species are native to Minnesota. 
Upcoming Events
The Bush Lake Chapter of the Izaak Walton League is seeking volunteers to help plant nearly 2,700 native wildflowers, grasses, and sedges! Saturday July 18th at 9am and Sunday July 19th at 9am at 7515 Izaak Walton Road, Bloomington, MN 55438. Visit their website here to register!