Lakeside Haven

  • Location: Jenison, Michigan
  • Traditional suburban lawn and shrub landscape transitioned to native landscapes over the past 10 years
  • Front yard rain garden coupled with hot and dry areas created microhabitats for a variety of plants
  • Backyard lakefront garden manages geese visits and provides shoreline protection
  • Vegetable garden/native woodland garden combo provides lots of thoughts about managing for various goals

Backyard is accessible via lawn hillside. Homeowner has a dog, please leave yours at home.

Transitioning our lawn to garden required conversations about how we value certain activities and the use of these spaces. This site is a classic farm-turned-suburban neighborhood with an underground sprinkling system and lawn from edges to hedges along the house. When we moved in, we began transitioning the lawn into a backyard vegetable garden, then a rain garden in the front, followed by a shoreline garden along the lake.

The gardens have evolved and developed over the years, taking on personalities of their own as species flourish or not, find their niche locations, or get discovered as a favorite habitat maker.  The shoreline gardens keep Canada Geese off the lawn and feed muskrats. All of the gardens invite wildlife into the yard (sometimes welcome and sometime irritating when we end up “sharing” our kale and beets), and this landscape regularly teaches us new lessons about ourselves and our ecosystem partners.

Our land is located along Rush Creek where it has been logged, farmed, gravel-mined and abandoned. It is considered low-grade floodplain and was vegetated mostly with Maple, Box Elder, Poison Ivy, Grapevine, and some invasive plants. The birds use it for migratory pathways, and the lakes, creek, and trees draw a variety of other wildlife.  It is our hope that our yard is turning into a haven for insects and birds that are making these pilgrimages.

Tours of this site will be informal, driven by the visitor’s curiosity and questions.