Bringing Nature Back to the Cottage

I  retyped this article from the Fall edition of Ontario Nature Magazine; it applies to our area as well and it might be considered by the neighbours who have quite a number of Canada geese visiting their lawns. Rather than racing after the geese with a pick-up truck to chase them away, shoreline plants and natural barriers would keep them away. Geese like to land on water and then waddle ashore. The shoreline at Alan Point Drive and the large short clipped grassy fields are made of Canada geese to graze on.

bringing back dog

Bringing Nature Back to the Cottage; A No-mow zone with happy dog.

By Jessica Middleton, Ontario Nature, Fall 2014, page 11


When my grandparents, George and Madge Middleton, bought their cottage in the 1970s, they thought they knew how to “do it up right”—by chopping down trees, planting a lawn and removing unsightly weeds from the water’s edge. Forty years later, a new land ethic is taking root in cottage country. More and more Ontario cottagers are retiring their lawnmowers and making space for cattails, wildflowers, dogwood and willow.

This return-to-nature trend coincides with an increasing human presence and pressure on our lake ecosystems. We must not only preserve remaining natural features, but also rehabilitate areas that have been degraded. That is especially true for shorelines, where 90 percent of all lake life is born, raised and fed. This ribbon of life is sensitive to human impact and in great need of restoration.

Fortunately, dramatic improvements can be made even with minimal effort. According to Kawartha Conservation, the first step is to maintain a no-mow zone along the shoreline and remove invasive plants. This can be followed by planting native shrubs to secure the soil and wildflowers to attract pollinators. For larger projects, it is wise to consult with local conservation authority staff, as some shoreline projects require permits.

One of the challenges people face in bringing back nature to their cottage may be the neighbours. While some will embrace the idea of a more natural and garden, others may view the changes with confusion and disdain. Cottage owners undertaking such projects should take time to explain what they are doing and why, letting neighbours know that shoreline naturalization can add value to a property, reduce shoreline erosion, improve water quality and deter pesky Canada geese.

Since inheriting the Middleton cottage earlier this year, my sister and I have begun bringing nature back. Our grandparents would be surprised by some of the changes taking place but would be thrilled by the increased number of frogs, birds, and butterflies sharing our land. They can rest assured that we are making the right kind of progress, with nature as our guide and inspiration.

To see more photos of the Middleton cottage shoreline restoration, visit


Native wild flowers and pollinator



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