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Living in the country and being close to nature is a lifestyle with many benefits, but it comes with its own responsibilities, such as land management. If you have a forest, creek, stream, wetland or other natural on your property, it is important that you understand how to take care of that feature, properly. The Landowner Outreach and Restoration team at Conservation Halton can provide support to rural landowners who are interested in projects to protect the natural features on their property. If you are interested in a site visit from a Landowner Outreach Technician to determine projects that would benefit the natural features on your property, email us at

A red brick house on a large, green property, surrounded by trees.

Lawns and gardens can require a large amount of time, effort and money to maintain, but there are easy ways to turn your country yard into a low-maintenance, drought-resistant garden using native plant species that will look beautiful and attract pollinators.

What you can do:

  • Use dead leaves as garden mulch to prevent weeds and keep moisture in the soil
  • Compost your kitchen and garden waste and spread it in the garden for healthy soil
  • Allow your lawn to brown in the summer and keep grass height at 5 cm to maintain shade and reduce evaporation
  • Plant native species of trees, shrub and flowers that are tolerant to drought
  • Choose a variety of shapes and colours of native flowering plants to attract a diverse variety of pollinators
  • Select plants that flower and produce nectar at different times throughout the season to support a diverse variety of pollinators
  • Plant the garden in groups or “clumps” to better attract pollinators
  • Improve the drought resistance of your plants by watering less often to encourage them to grow deeper roots
  • Water your garden with rainwater or install a drip irrigation system from rain barrels
  • Water plants in the early morning or evening to reduce evaporation
  • Adapt your garden to be pesticide-free or use ecological alternatives
  • Learn how to identify invasive species and remove them from your property

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Countryside Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

Forests are important for the health of everyone in the watershed—they remove pollution from the air, filter water before it enters our creeks, streams, river and lakes, shelter the land from wind and water erosion, provide habitat for native species of wildlife and store carbon for climate resilience.

If you have a forest or woodlot on your property, there are resources and programs to manage, maintain and enhance the health of your forest. Whether your objectives are habitat for wildlife, opportunities for recreation or income generation, there are best management practices you can implement to maximize your forest.

What you can do:

  • Expand the forested area on your property by planting native trees and shrubs.
  • Learn how to identify invasive species and remove them from your property.
  • Join the Ontario Woodlot Association to learn from other woodland owners.
  • Create a “Stewardship Plan” and you could be eligible for the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program.

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Countryside Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

If you are interested in a project to support forest health on your property, you can get in touch with a Landowner Outreach Technician at

Many activities can damage water quality in nearby creeks and streams, and impact downstream fish habitat and human water use.

A “riparian zone” is the vegetated area on either side of a creek, stream or drainage route to a watercourse. This area generally extends from the channel of the creek or stream to the floodplain area around it. The riparian zone functions to manage water flow, capture sediment, filter pollution and stabilize the bank as well as providing shade, food and habitat for wildlife.

Creeks and streams with little or no riparian plants can leave them vulnerable to erosion, weed infestation and poor water quality, which can negatively affect your property. Overtime, this can cause the size and shape of the channel to become widened, braided or too shallow and warm for fish and other aquatic species to live.

What you can do:

  • Plant native trees, shrubs, and groundcover suitable for wet areas
  • Leave a minimum 3m planted area on either side of the creek
  • Remove barriers, dams, culverts and debris that impede water flow

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Countryside Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

If you are concerned about the health of a creek or stream on your property, email the Landowner Outreach and Restoration team at

Please note that excavation, construction or other work near a creek, stream, wetland or other watercourse may be classified as “development” and may require a permit from Conservation Halton. Click here to learn more about permitting.

Usually fed by groundwater, ponds come in many shapes and sizes, and may have been created for fishing, swimming or wildlife. Overtime, ponds tend to fill in with sediment and become shallow and overgrown with marsh plants. Once a pond becomes wildlife habitat, they are difficult to alter, because they are regulated under the Conservation Authorities Act.

What you can do:

  • Plant a buffer of native trees and shrubs around the pond to filter nutrients from surface runoff and provide shade to the pond.
  • Restrict access to the pond only where needed and limit the access points to 3m wide
  • Avoid fertilizing the lawn close to the pond and avoid fertilizing when rain is in the forecast
  • Direct runoff from downspouts and pools away from the pond and allow it to infiltrate the ground
  • Use an aerator to increase dissolved oxygen to reduce algae blooms
  • Have pond water tested by public health if you use it for swimming or fishing

You can consider installing habitat features, such as:

  • Floating logs or exposed rocks that turtles can bask on
  • Turtle nest sites made up of sand, crushed stone and gravel
  • Platforms near larger ponds for birds to perch and nest
  • Wood duck boxes in and surrounding the pond for nesting
  • Submerged brush from tree pruning or a Christmas tree to protect fish, frogs and turtles from the sun and predators

Descriptions of these projects and guidelines for eligibility can be found in the Countryside Properties Guidelines for the Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Program.

If your pond is connected to a creek or stream, you can contact us at to discuss opportunities.

The chemicals that we use to keep pools clean and safe for swimming, such as chlorine, bromine, salt and algaecide, can be harmful to our environment. Improper drainage of swimming pools can lead to these chemicals being transported into creeks, streams, ravines and lakes, where they are toxic to aquatic species.

What you can do:

  • De-chlorinate the water by not adding chemicals for at least one week, leaving the pumps running, and allowing the chlorine to dissipate, prior to draining.
  • Test the water in your pool to ensure that chemical levels are as low as possible before draining
  • When draining your pool, drain the water directly onto your lawn, so that the water can infiltrate slowly, and sediments can be filtered out.
  • Never drain the water from your pool into natural areas, such as ravines, as this can cause erosion and other forms of damage.
  • If you have a saltwater pool, it should be drained into the sanitary sewer or taken away for proper treatment. Never drain a saltwater pool into a natural area, as the chloride is toxic for aquatic species.

If your well is unused or has been improperly filled and sealed, you should decommission it, safely, to protect the groundwater and prevent health and safety issues for yourself and others in your community. Financial assistance is available in Halton and Hamilton to help you decommission well, properly.

  • Always have wells designed, drilled and installed by a licensed well contractor.
  • Have your well tested at least three times each year, in the spring summer and fall.
  • Do not apply fertilizers or chemicals near wells, ponds or other surface water sources.

  • Have your septic tank and bed inspected to make sure that they are functioning properly.
  • Always make sure that tanks are pumped out every two to three years and keep accurate records of maintenance.
  • Have your effluent filter checked and cleaned every year. If you do not have an effluent filter, consider adding one.
  • Divert surface water away from the leaching bed of your septic system.
  • Conserve water in the house to reduce the amount of wastewater that must be treated.