Smart gardens planted at The Lodge on Lake Detroit

Local hotel adds ecology rain garden

With its building now complete, and sod freshly laid, the Lodge on Lake Detroit is focusing its attention on a different sort of project: planting two ecologically-friendly rain gardens on the surrounding grounds.

“We wanted to create a naturally draining garden area rather than a settling pond,” explained Lodge owner Scott Melhaff.

Melhaff owns and operates the Lodge with his wife Chris Holland Melhaff and her parents, Kathy and John Holland. He is also a member of the Lake Detroiters Association where he helps to provide information and educate on the ease and benefits of naturalizing lakefronts.

“We wanted to simply drain the water naturally to the lake rather than diverting it to a retaining pond,” he said. “This project will work in conjunction with the 440 feet of shoreline naturalization we are planning to do next spring.”

To accomplish his water garden, Melhaff received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and had the space specially engineered to drain rather than hold water. He also got the go-ahead from the Pelican River Watershed District.

“The grant process was a lot of paperwork but very much worth it,” said Melhaff. “We ended up having a crew of four Minnesota Conservation Corps volunteers actually come up and do the planting.”

This was the first year the MCC maintained a crew solely dedicated to planting shoreline restoration projects.

“We have been all over the state already this summer. From Jackson in the south to Bemidji in the north and everywhere in between,” said Dave from the MCC.

With a tradition built on its federal Civilian Conservation Corps predecessor of the 1930s, Dave, along with three counterparts, make up the MCC’s first ever 12-week summer planting crew.

“It is great for us as we get to work outdoors and learn about various parts of the state,” added Dave.

The Lodge project ended up being one of the biggest commercial plantings of its kind in the state this year, using approximately 4,000 indigenous perennials, said Lodge site DNR shoreline habitat and planting coordinator Lindy Elcola.

“We usually work with lake associations; MnDOT land; public community areas and private residences,” added Elcola. “The Lodge was big project for us. Where we normally spend a day planting, this was a two-day undertaking.”

For more information about the Lodge on Lake Detroit or to make reservations, call 218-847-VIEW (8439), toll free 800-761-VIEW (8439), visit www.thelodgeonlakedetroit. com.