Use Native Plants for Landscaping Within The Project Boundary

The Project Boundary on Leesville Lake is the 620 foot conture. Plantings within the Project Boundary are restricted to native plants. Natives can pretty much fend for themselves when it comes to survival and reproduction. They are non invasive while providing habitat for wildlife. Native plants are plants that lived here in precolumbian times. Many other wild plants have been introduced either purposefully by people or inadvertently by hitchhiking along with the unknowingly new human and non human arrivals in the Americas. These new plants called aliens have spread and can fend on their own very well , sometimes too well, becoming what we call invasive plants. Kudzu and honeysuckle quickly come to mind as purposefully introduced invasive plants. One recurring theme of the Shoreline Management Plan is sustainability without intervention. You can see where native plants fit the bill.

AEP provides a list of natives compiled by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and others that can be downloaded from their SMP website. For your convince there is a link to it on the Shore Management page of the associations website The list was compiled for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Leesville Lake is in the Roanoke River watershed which is immediately bordering on the south and west of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Many of the plants on the list are not natives of our area. Obviously, salt-marsh plants of the tidewater do not live here in the Piedmont and Blue ridge region. One goal that the association might pursue would be to refine the list for our area.

In general, plantings near bodies of water (streams, creeks, rivers, lakes and bays) can slow down the runoff from rains and impede the flow of unwanted things in the water. A planting can also stabilize the soil to slow erosion. Unwanted things around a lake home might include fertilizers, pesticides, and drippings from autos. Limiting your use of fertilizers and pesticides along with keeping your car in shape would be preferred.

A diagram of moisture zones for a normal body of water is shown on page three of the Native Plant Guide. It starts with the flooded zone and then shows various stages of moisture zones ending with a dry zone. As we all know by now, Leesville Lake is not a normal body of water so a few changes to this diagram may represent the situation at Leesville Lake.

The dry and well drained zones are from the high water mark on Leesville, which is the 613 ft conture, to the Project Boundary, the 620 ft conture, and above. Here we should use plants suited to lower moisture level. Most buffer gardens will be in this area. The dry zone can suport moist, well drained and dry plants depending on local conditions and soil types. At the other extreme we have the flooded zone where there is water all the time, which for Leesville is below the 600 ft couture. Between these two extreme zones is where there might be some speculation. Observation of the area between 600 ft and 613 ft, which we will call the fluctuation zone, leads to a few conclusions about plant life there. The fluctuation zone can be divided into three parts. From about 607 ft to 600 ft might be called the barren sub zone where there is no plant life. The sparse sub zone is from around 609 ft to 607 ft where some plants can live while 613 ft to 609 ft supports more abundant life in terms if numbers and diversity. Plants that have moisture catagory of flooded will survive in both the sparce and abundant sub zones while wet plants may only live in the abundant. This is a good area for future research by planting test gardens at locations arround the lake.

Leesville Lake is in a region of the country that is dominated oaks and hickories due to the drier and less fertile soils. The acidic soil and open canopy give rise to shrub thickets of azalea and laurel in moist areas while the drier areas have lower scrubs of hucklebery and bluebery. Major species in the more moist areas include red and white oak, tulip poplar, hickory, and occasionaly maple and beech with understory dogwoods. Drier areas have mostly red, white, black, scarlet, and chestnut oaks while the even drier ridge tops and south-faceing slopes are limited to chestnut, scarlet, and black oaks. Short lived pines like the virginia and loblolly sprout and grow in areas opened due to human activites or fire only to be replaced in succession by the hardwood species. From the many herbaceous plants for the dry zone the most common are black-eyed susans, tickseeds, coneflowers, and bee balm.

Common fluctuation zone tree species include birch, sycamore, willow, and red cedar. Scrubs incluce smooth alder and shrubby st john's wort. A few good herbaceous plants for fluctuation zone are joe pye weed, marsh hibiscus, cardinal flower, goldenrod and new york ironweed.