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Officials hope gardens along Lake Charlevoix will encourage homeowners to plant native species

Boyne City

If your lake-front lawn looks as smooth and green as a golf course, you’re doing it wrong. That was the word from city officials, non-profit groups and private landscaping companies this weekend.


Demonstration gardens featuring Michigan native plants have been planted along the shores of Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City, and now officials are using them to inspire lakefront homeowners.


Officials are hoping that the gardens will encourage anyone with lakefront homes to plant more native species in their front yards in order to help the shorelines.


Tom Darnton is the co-chair of the organizing committee for the Boyne City Shoreline Demonstration Garden Project. He said anyone with a home on the lake has an obligation to the environment.


“We really encourage anybody who has waterfront to thinking about what they can do. It is a special responsibility to be a waterfront owner on a body of water that is as pristine and fragile as Lake Charlevoix,” Darnton said.


City officials, private landscaping companies and non-profit organizations came together to support the demonstration project. Landscaping companies North by Nature, Ryan’s Landscape, Charlevoix Landscape, Vidosh North and Muddy Paw all donated plants and labor to 5 of the 7 plots that the gardens were planted in. The remaining two plots were funded by fundraising by the Lake Charlevoix Association.


Joel Van Roekel, co-chair of the organizing committee for the Boyne City Shoreline Demonstration Garden Project, said that he had a conversation with one of the landscape company owners.


“He looked at me and he said, ‘I don’t do this very often,’ meaning giving away thousands of dollars worth of plants and labor time," Van Roekel said. "And so it shows that we have people that are really concerned about protecting and preserving this lake that aren’t necessarily just lakefront owners. This is truly a community endeavor for the help of the entire watershed.”


Van Roekel said not only can lakefront owners bring native species into their yards, but everyone in Michigan can benefit from this project. People can plant native plants anywhere in the state, not just along shorelines.


Van Roekel said he hopes the demonstration project will educate the community about the importance of planting native species.


A ceremony to celebrate the planting of the gardens is scheduled for Sunday, June 9 at Sunset Park in Boyne City.