Bright-Minded Home March 2017

Q+A with Russ Tyson & David Maynes on Lake-Friendly Landscape Techniques

The collaboration between Russ Tyson of Whitten Architects and David Maynes of Richardson and Associates landscape architects on a Great East Lake renovation has earned a LakeSmart Award from Maine Lakes Society for implementing a lake-sensitive, context-driven landscape approach that seeks to protect the lakefront and long-term water quality.

Q. Why is it important to consider a context-drive landscape approach for lakefront homes?

Russ: Lawn and compacted surfaces compromise the lake’s watershed filtering capabilities, which can result in sedimentation, as well as algae blooms from excess nutrient inputs used to fertilize lawns. The localized watershed around each house contributes to these issues collectively, making the lake a communal dirty-water bathtub. In coordination with Richardson and Associates we’re looking to reintroduce the natural processes that control and manage runoff and erosion. Integrating the building with its surroundings and promoting good lake stewardship benefit both the lake and the homeowner.

Q. What techniques were used on the Great East Lake property?

David: The existing landscape was lawn and gravel, promoting excessive storm water runoff and constant erosion. To manage this, we created a series of riffle pools along a channel on one side of the house to direct and slow runoff during rainstorms, thereby preventing debris and sediments from flowing into the lake. We tipped the planes of topography to direct water into the riffle pools, and created an at-grade gutter system with moss and river stone around the base of the house to catch and manage water from the roof. We also prescribed native riparian vegetation buffers at the edges of the lake and upslope of the home to further intercept and filter nutrient loads and sediment runoff, and incorporated a mix of native blueberry and huckleberry sods, hay-scented fern, and moss carpets. The intended context conveys a shaded woodland streambed that one would experience hiking in the nearby foothills.

Q. What are the benefits of these strategies?

David: The practical and local benefit for the homeowner is eliminating consistent and long-term erosion. The larger benefit is a healthy lake and lakeside community.

Russ: People want to live on lakes in Maine because they are clean and unspoiled. We believe this lake-friendly approach maximizes the investment the homeowner has made and increases property values.

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