AS SEEN IN The Golf Course Trades, June 2015: Written by Industry Expert Gavin Ferris, Ecologist, SOLitude Lake Management
Keeping a golf course’s pond in a pristine and presentable state can often be challenging and a lot of work. Bank erosion, suspended sediment, nutrient runoff, wind-blown trash, and hordes of potentially destructive geese can easily turn a waterbody into a muddy, green, slimy, stinky mess. In contrast, when you see a beautiful pond or lake in a natural setting, a healthy ecosystem is working to balance out all of these potentially destructive influences. Controlling all of these problems artificially may require multiple herbicide treatments, labor intensive cleanup and expensive repairs. Why do so much work yourself, when the plants that you want to be there are willing to do so much of it for you?
Many pond and lake issues start on land. Surface runoff from rain and melting snow causes bank erosion and transports sediment and nutrients into the water. Excess nutrients and sediment lead to pond algae, weeds and turbidity. Geese graze on terrestrial plants, sometimes causing turf damage, and then transfer those nutrients to the water in their droppings. Allowing the shoreline area to develop a community of taller, diverse native plant species can help to protect your waterbody from these harmful influences. These plants slow runoff to prevent erosion while absorbing nutrients. This band of vegetation around any waterbody – a pond, lake or even a stream – is called a buffer zone. And, it is the single most effective means of protecting your course’s ponds from surface runoff.