Ways to create and preserve more green space on rural residential land were presented at a free stewardship workshop in High Prairie on April 21 and Slave Lake on April 23.
The Green Acreages Workshop was hosted by Lesser Slave Lake Watershed Council in partnership with Big Lakes County and the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River.
Executive director Meghan Payne and watershed co-ordinator Kaylyn Jackson covered The Green Acreages Guide produced by the Land Stewardship Centre of Canada.
“What we do on our land will impact our water in Lesser Slave Lake,” Payne says.
“As a landowner, you want to do the right thing.”
She advises land owners to look at the whole picture to help them understand the interactions and cause-and-effect relationships and to strive to improve the economical and social impact.
“Wherever you live, there will always be challenges,” Payne says.
Those issues include water supply, landscaping and protecting property from fire, some of many components featured in the extensive guide.
“Take all steps and precautions from contaminating water,” Payne says.
Property owners must ensure they have proper government approvals to meet municipal requirements and regulations before they develop their acreage with any additions and changes.
Ensure wells are an appropriate distance from septic systems, livestock areas, and low-lying areas where water collects.
“Do your best to conserve water, with such things as low-flow appliances and reduce unnecessary watering,” Payne says.
“Water plants early in the morning or late evening when the sun will not evaporate it.”
Rain barrels are one way to collect rain, to conserve other resources.
“A rain garden is a great way to capture runoff rain,” Payne says.
Prevent runoff of soil into bodies of water.
“Maintain a healthy riparian, install buffers or provide off-stream watering for livestock,” Payne says.
Managing the green space and landscaping plays a key role and can be a big investment.
“Make choices based on how much time and effort you want to spend to maintain it,” Payne says.
She outlined key points in the guide.
Select species to suit site conditions and minimize lawn area.
Mulch controls weeds and conserves soil moisture.
Native grasses require less water.
Fertilize flower beds, trees and shrubs in early summer after buds begin to open.
Attract birds with shelter, berries, and keep cats away.
Attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies with a variety of flowering plants, shrubs and trees and variety of flowers that blossom various times of the year.
To control weeds, she advises people to minimize bare soil and manage disturbed sites.
“Healthy vegetation such as a lawn or pasture should resist weeds,” Payne says.
To protect property from fire hazards during dry condition, owners are advised to manage defensible spaces around the house and other buildings.
“You need to reduce any available fuel and material around buildings and keep a 10-metre buffer around buildings,” Payne says.
“Work together with neighbours and be fire smart.”
Keep water on the property during a drought.
It’s also good to have wetland on the property during dry conditions, Jackson says.
“Identify fire risks, especially during a dry year.”
She went on to outline the steps to develop a plan and strategy.
“Setting goals is the most important thing,” Jackson says.
“Take your time, look at it and get opinions from several people.”
“As you go, it’s important to monitor progress.”
For more information or to acquire The Green Acreages Guide (binder), phone the office in High Prairie at 780-523-9800, visit the office in the Moostoos Building (above High Prairie Municipal Library), email to email@example.com or visit the website at lswc.ca.