Floating Wetlands for a Healthy Pond

Looking for a way to provide fish habitat in your pond? How about an option to reduce excess nutrients and help deter nuisance algae blooms? Interested in finding a new way to incorporate native wetland plants into the landscape?

Try floating wetlands, a pond management technique that can help support a healthy pond ecosystem.

A pond with plants and trees around it Description automatically generated with low confidence

Floating wetlands provide a diverse pond habitat.
Guinn Wallover, ©2022, Clemson Extension

Floating wetlands are buoyant, container mat gardens that incorporate aquatic wetland plants into their design. Floating wetlands have a reputation as powerhouses in water quality treatment; a combination of plant uptake, microbial activity along a dense, floating root system, and sedimentation help to remove pollution from pond water.

Floating wetlands also provide for a diverse pond habitat. The recommended native plants help promote food and shelter for fish, amphibians, pollinators, wading birds, and other pond visitors.

Floating wetland design includes a floating mat, native wetland plants that can tolerate wet root systems, and a rope and anchor system that considers pond depth and fluctuations in pond level after significant rain events. Manufactured floating wetland systems can be designed and installed with the help of a pond or environmental restoration company. However, do-it-yourself installations by the ambitious pond owner are also an option. Typical maintenance tasks include dividing crowded plants, periodic plant replacement, removing nuisance weeds, and cutting back and removing dead plant material before early spring.

Looking for more info? Read HGIC 1857, Floating Wetlands: Container Gardens for Your Pond for more information on floating wetland benefits, design, and a recommended plant list. The same plants you would incorporate into your pond buffer are often great options for your next floating wetland project.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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