Lakes and ponds are a beautiful addition to your property, but they can also become an eyesore when not properly managed. One of the greatest passive lake management options is a native plant buffer. Here’s what you need to know about these buffers, their benefits, and some best practices.
What Are Native Plant Buffers?
Native plant buffers are a section of plant growth around your pond or lake comprised of aquatic plants native to the area. This means controlling what plants are allowed to take root to avoid invasive species. Rather, hardy native species helps keep the water body balanced and thriving.
Control Harmful Runoff
If you’ve managed a lake or pond for long, you understand the difficulty runoff brings to keeping a healthy lake. On the minor side, there’s the simple erosion problem, which dumps uncontrolled amounts of dirt into your water. This inevitably leads to expensive maintenance to keep the water at an appropriate depth.
More dangerous to your pond’s ecosystem is the chemical runoff, including pesticides, fertilizers, and more. These chemicals alter the water's composition, making it difficult to maintain healthy life in the pond.
Balance Aquatic Ecosystem
An aquatic ecosystem requires an assortment of lifeforms in order for the entire system to thrive. This includes bacteria, plants, and everything from small to large fish.
Native plant barriers help balance these delicate ecosystems. When non-native plants invade, they change the proliferating bacteria and the nutrients in the water. Native plants keep these elements in balance to encourage a sustainable environment for the entire ecosystem.
Control Insect Annoyance
Most of us think of ponds and lakes as the source of nuisance bugs, like mosquitoes. However, with the right native plant barrier, you can actually help reduce the proliferation of these nuisances.
With a healthy ecosystem, fish that feed on the larva and bugs thrive, thereby reducing the number affecting us. Restricting aquatic planting in lakes inhibits these smaller fish, allowing insects to flourish without a natural predator.
Reduce Unsightly Overgrowth
One of the biggest aesthetic problems to lake or pond management is keeping invasive and destructive bacteria and algae at bay. These microbes not only infect the plants and fish in the lake, but can also turn an unsightly color.
Maintaining native plant barriers helps reduce the harmful bacteria and algae by encouraging the appropriate microbial growth. This keeps your water looking healthy, and your plants and fish naturally healthy with less maintenance.
Best Practices for a Plant Buffer
Start with making sure you have enough of a plant buffer. Ideally, you want about a 3- to 5-foot buffer to allow for enough separation from the shore. This helps reduce the amount of shore erosion and keeps other contaminants out of the water.
Next, use care with what kind of plants you use in your barrier. Stay away from invasive and nuisance species. These plants spread aggressively, outgrowing other native plants and limiting the diversity of the ecosystem.
Also avoid woody vegetation like weeping willows, tree saplings, and shrubs. These plants destabilize shorelines, dry out soil, and contribute excess nutrients to the lake or pond. They also attract some burrowing rodents, which further ruin the embankments and shoreline.
Few things can disrupt the tranquility of a pond like algae. While having some beneficial green plants around your pond is always a good thing, the last thing you want is to have algae start growing and take over the water. Algae not only turns the water into a murky shade of ugly green, but it also depletes oxygen and can lead to more problems such as the fish dying off. Gaining control of algae and green water requires taking a balanced approach to your pond maintenance plans.
Know What You Are Dealing With
Algae works much like other plants by producing oxygen through photosynthesis. The problem with algae gets worse when there is not enough sunlight to make this process happen. Overnight and on cloudy days, algae creates carbon dioxide and respires, which causes oxygen levels in the pond to go down.
There are two main types of algae that you’ll find in a pond, and these are green water and string algae. The green water type is made up of single-celled organisms that develop in large numbers. They are so small that they can often pass through many common filters. String algae grows in long strands that you can visually spot accumulating on rocks or floating through the water. It is possible for both types to exist within your pond, but being able to recognize them helps you to plan better for algae control.
Add Beneficial Plants
The components of an active pond ecosystem should all flow well with each other. In a perfectly kept pond, fish create nutrients that are then absorbed by the plants. This leaves very few nutrients for algae to use for growth. Aquatic plants can help to choke out the algae by reducing nutrients in the water. Floating plants such as lilies and lotus add a touch of beauty while helping to reduce algae growth. Submerged plants are another option that won’t typically be noticeable from the surface.
Practice Proper Fish Breeding and Feeding
Fish help to promote a healthy ecosystem. However, you can sometimes do more harm than good if you don’t know how to care for the fish. Using a high quality food helps the fish to digest it more easily. This allows for fewer nutrients to pass into the water that could feed algae growth. You can also reduce the amount of nutrients that make it into the water by making sure that fish populations stay under control.
Use Water Treatments
Special treatments are available that you can use along with other methods to eliminate algae. A water treatment is best to use in the beginning if the pond already has substantial algae growth since it can provide fast results. Pond management companies in Florida can recommend a quality and safe water treatment that will improve the effectiveness of your other maintenance strategies.
Algae growth patterns can increase rapidly in response to environmental changes. Even something as small as a recent storm can throw off the balance of nutrients in the water. Maintaining a watchful eye on your pond helps you to know when it is time to respond to potential problems before they destroy the beauty of your favorite water feature.
Storm drains. We usually think of them as the catch-all of things we don't know what else to do with. However, storm drains are essential for diverting excess rainwater so that the streets and yards don't flood.
What Should Never Go Down The Storm Drains?
Unlike the sewer system, which treats everything that goes through it, storm drains don't go through a treatment process. Whatever goes into them goes directly into the local streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. So, if you wouldn't want to drink it or put it on your skin, then don't put it in the storm drains.
If you need stormwater management companies in Florida, then call us at 941-479-7811. We're among the best in the area for managing the sometimes torrential amounts of rainwater we get in Florida, and we can help you with your stormwater management needs.
Ponds and lakes offer the best of both worlds: a beautiful place for quiet reflection and contemplation and a spot for active play and sightseeing. When properly cared for, a waterbody can become the highlight of your community. Pond management companies in Florida provide the top ways to make your pond or lake the most attractive it can be.
Consider floating fountains
Fountains are visually appealing and provide significant benefits. Keeping water moving discourages the growth of nuisance algae and weeds, and also helps prevent mosquitos. You may consider adding colored lights or other decorations to the fountain to make it exciting for passersby at night.
Plant good aquatic plants
It’s worth taking a closer look at what’s growing in and around your waterbody. Getting invasive species like cattails and purple loosestrife under control is the critical first step before you plant any new vegetation.
A pretty border of decorative plants can both frame the pond and prevent soil erosion. Choose wildflowers and grasses that are native to the area in order to promote a healthy ecosystem, filter pollutants, and encourage wildlife. Lake management companies can give you advice on which plants may be best for your area.
Sediment, mud, and debris can build up over time, causing your waterbody to lose depth. Removing these nuisances restores the pond’s depth and vibrancy and improves its visual appeal. Proactive management keeps the lake or pond healthy year after year.
There are two sediment removal options: hydro-raking and dredging. Hydro-raking removes organic muck from lakes and ponds, and can also remove nuisance plants. Dredging can be used when a waterbody is closer to the end of its lifespan and needs more of its original volume restored.
Routine maintenance is key
You may also decide to make changes over the course of the life of your waterbody. Community engagement can be important in this regard. Local birdwatchers might want to see birdhouses around the pond or lake and have a gazebo for relaxing while birdwatching. Biking enthusiasts might want more bike trails around the waterbody. Actively solicit and encourage feedback from community members.
Your waterbody is an investment in your community. Once you have achieved the initial results you are looking for, consider the benefits of an annual management program. Regular maintenance by pond management companies in Florida ensures this space will stay beautiful year after year. This includes services like visual inspections, shoreline weed control, and monthly fountain or aeration maintenance.
Annual management is key to preventing larger-scale issues like algae blooms and blocking invasive species from returning after they have been cleared out. Health and functionality are the principles of effective waterbody maintenance for creating a space that everyone will enjoy for years to come.
Eutrophication - the process by which lakes and ponds age after being formed - is unavoidable. Erosion, algae and plant growth, and nutrient pollution can factor into how quickly eutrophication happens. Staying proactive with your pond management can keep your pond from filling up with sediment and becoming nothing more than a muddy puddle.
Here are four ways that you can stay on top of your pond's eutrophication.
Test the Water
Testing the water is the best way to start keeping tabs on your pond. This gives you a management baseline since it clues you into pH levels, algae and bacteria species, dissolved oxygen, and nutrient levels. Be sure to test at regular intervals since this allows pond management companies in Florida to create a treatment plan that is unique to your pond's needs. This can help prevent problems like blooms of toxic algae, fish kills, invasive species, and bad smells.
Install Nanobubble Aerators
Nanobubble aerators are a handy piece of technology that make super tiny bubbles which can oxygenate your pond's water column for several months at a time. In other words, they don't immediately rise to the surface. This can help prevent unwanted blooms of algae, stopping even toxic cyanobacteria from ruining your pond. When used in conjunction with other preventative methods, nanobubble aerators can prove to be highly beneficial for pond maintenance.
Create a Vegetative Buffer
Having a vegetative buffer in place is essential to stopping runoff and sedimentation from flooding into the pond. Plan to grow them from 3 to 5 feet around the pond's shoreline, and be sure to have it trimmed annually. Bioengineered living shorelines can be helpful if your pond is experiencing severe shoreline erosion. Some of these systems are able to keep erosion and sedimentation at bay for at least five years, increasing your pond's longevity and vitality.
Have a Professional Apply Biological Bacteria
In severe cases, you should contact pond management companies in Florida and ask about biological bacteria being applied to your pond. Doing so can help with the natural processing of extra organic matter which would otherwise only serve to fuel unwanted algae and invasive species. Applying biological bacteria can stabilize your pond's unique ecosystem since it promotes healthy fish and helpful zooplankton. There are multiple methods of biological bacteria introduction, so you can work with your pond manager to find the solution that is best for your pond.
Even if your pond is experiencing severe problems, you can implement a set of goals to keep it proactively managed. With the help of pond management companies in Florida, you can keep your pond healthy and thriving, free from excessive toxic algae, sedimentation, and run-off. By staying on top of things, you can keep your pond from turning into a puddle of mud a few years down the road.
Similar to the aquatic wildlife that inhabits the water, lakes also have a life cycle. Over time, plants and fish die off and grow again. Water levels rise and fall. While all of these changes are natural, sediment build up is one that can have a dramatic impact upon the health of a lake. Sediment naturally accumulates on the floor of a lake as debris breaks down, but having too much can turn a lake into a murky, smelly mess. Lake dredging removes the sediment and improves the overall water quality.
Watch for the Signs of an Aging or Unhealthy Lake
Since the sediment is at the bottom of the lake, you likely won’t notice it building up. Instead, you might notice that the water level doesn’t seem as deep as it once was, or the lake may seem narrower due to build up along the shoreline. Algae blooms are also common in lakes that need dredging since the sediment holds nutrients that feed the unwanted organisms. Too much algae can cause the fish and plants to die off, which can lead to a noxious odor developing.
Know What to Expect During Lake Dredging
Dredging simply involves using a special machine called a dredge to remove the sediment from the lake floor and along the sides where it is needed. Hydraulic and mechanical dredging are the two main types that lake dredging companies in Florida use to maintain and restore large bodies of water. Hydraulic dredging involves using a submerged pump that sucks up the debris and transports it to a tube that runs to the surface. Once there, the debris is placed into a truck and disposed of according to federal, state and local environmental guidelines.
Mechanical dredges use buckets that scrape the lake floor to collect the sediment. As with hydraulic dredging, the unwanted debris is put into trucks and transported away from the lake for proper disposal. Mechanical dredging also works well for clearing away larger debris such as unwanted plants.
Understand the Benefits of Dredging
Lake dredging improves the health and appearance of the water in several important ways. Pulling up the excess sediment helps to remove trash, sewage contamination and other pollutants. Doing so creates a healthier environment that discourages the growth of algae and unwanted plants. You’ll also notice that dredged lakes tend to be deeper and less prone to flooding. In addition to improving lake health, you can also use dredging to reconfigure or create waterways. Dredging may also be recommended if you plan to install features such as a pier or dock at the lake.
Using lake management strategies such as shoreline erosion control helps to keep sediment from building up, but eventually there comes a point where you’ll need to take action. Dredging can be done as a preventative measure on a regular basis, or you can arrange for the service to restore a lake that is being threatened by contamination. In either case, proper lake management beautifies the environment and preserves aquatic ecosystems.
Lake and pond management companies in Florida know how valuable those bodies of water are for collecting stormwater, fishing, swimming and bonding between friends and family. Humans need freshwater but we also need to be safe around it. Far beyond the usual safety equipment like life jackets, first aid and signage, there are several other tips you should consider with a lake or pond.
I D and Stop Toxic Algae
Cyanobacteria, aka "blue-green algae," can kill animals. It and other chemicals like it can contribute to all sorts of neurological problems. Regular assessments can keep your waters safe for everyone. Professional testing can not only identify toxins but also inform you of imbalances in water quality, giving you the information to prevent new toxic blooms.
ID and Remove Invasive Species
Common aquatic species like milfoil, torpedograss and water chestnut not only displace the native fauna but it also clogs stormwater gear and risks snagging people, propellers and fishing hooks. The best prevention of invasive weed growth is through identifying problem plants and checking all equipment for bits of it before submerging. Long-lasting aquatic herbicides may be needed in cases where an infestation has started.
Restore Eroded Shorelines
Regardless of a pond's health, a weak shoreline is a problem. Erosion, caused by several different factors, can cause sediment to build up, making the water shallower and developing muck. Consider adding native plants and grasses for sediment stability, slowed stormwater runoff and as a means of filtering pollutants. These buffers work best when they reach 18 inches tall and are placed 3 to 5 feet from the shoreline. In cases where the damage has already been done, bioengineered living shorelines can be added, featuring a knit mesh, to reshape and secure property near the water while blending in with the terrain.
Mind The Mosquitoes
Beyond being annoying, mosquitoes are a well-known vector for disease. Since mosquitoes only breed in stagnant water, a fountain or other aeration system can circulate your waters. You may also consider keeping minnows or mosquitofish on hand to consume the bugs' eggs before hatching. The aforementioned living shoreline mesh also draws dragonflies, known predators of mosquitoes. One final step to stopping mosquitoes would be larvicides.
Know What Lurks Beneath
Lots of things can happen beneath the waterline, like large branches, trash and debris. Some bodies may even contain structures that were implanted when the pond was made, like stormwater equipment or fish habitats. Because of the chance of something going wrong, you should always know what and where such structures are found within your pond.
Bathymetric mapping can identify structures and debris at the bottom of a body of water, creating a 3D model. Depending on what your discover, you can pursue hydro-raking to clear muck and tree branches, a fishery to safely migrate undesired fish habitats or hiring a professional to fix damaged stormwater gear.
Water is something that everyone needs but it can be endangered. Do your best to keep your freshwater ecosystems as safe and healthy as viable.
Most golf courses scatter ponds throughout the grounds. Many people may not understand what these ponds add to the course and the golfing experience, but anyone who plans a golf course or works at a golf course needs to know their importance. Here are some of the benefits of having a healthy pond at your golf course and the importance of maintenance.
Benefits of Having a Healthy Pond
There are a lot of reasons that people put a pond on their golf course. Here are just some of the benefits of having a healthy pond.
Ponds create obstacles for golfers. A strategically located pond can make the round more interesting than other courses. People may lose quite a few golf balls before they learn how to navigate the course properly. As long as the challenge is reasonable, it will attract golfers.
Many people like to golf in tropical areas. Unfortunately, many of these areas are susceptible to flooding. Unfortunately, people can't enjoy a golf course when it experiences flooding. Ponds provide preventative features.
A healthy pond will make the golf course much more aesthetically pleasing to the people who enjoy the course. When the course is attractive, more people will want to become a member. You can also increase the price compared to a golf course that doesn't look quite as nice.
It's more important to conserve water now more than ever. We use water without thought, and we are depleting the water resources on the planet. Ponds in the golf course can increase water supply as long as they are maintained properly. A lining in the pond can stop the water from leaking, thus keeping water in the pond.
The water in the ponds aren't useful if the water isn't high quality. High quality water will ensure that the water looks its best, smells its best, and tastes its best. One way the water can deplete in quality involves the nutrients in the lake. While more nutrients may sound like a good idea, it's actually best to lower the amount of nutrients in the water to maintain the quality of the water.
Ponds come with some inherent safety concerns. If someone falls into the water and gets hurt, it is the responsibility of the golf course. Safety should be a major concern, and a healthy pond is safer. Professionals will ensure a safe slope and even place additional precautions to prevent an accident.
Golf is a great way to bond with colleagues and family. It's also a great way to relax and enjoy good weather. However, you want the pond to be beautiful and healthy. Make a point to schedule regular maintenance with a pond management company in Florida.
Erosion control companies in Florida often field questions relating to the root cause of eroding shorelines in the state's many lakes. So what could be causing the erosion in your lake soil? Chances are, it is one of these four primary causes.
Human Causes: The actions of humans can have a significant effect on lake erosion. Activities such as logging, construction, and gardening all contribute to the disruption of the soil in and around the lake. For example, removing vegetation around the lake to improve your view may actually disturb the natural habitat. This can inadvertently cause the soil to erode. Paving over too much of the land surrounding the lake can also cause water to collect in undesirable areas rather than soaking into the soil as is preferred.
Climate Change: Basic climate change issues are also reasons why you may notice erosion along the shoreline. Higher than normal rainfall can lead to a greater chance of erosion. This will lead to increasing amounts of sediment running into the bodies of water. As the water currents become stronger, the erosion is accelerated beyond normal rates. One of the biggest concerns of this type of erosion is that the increase in sediment can affect the quality of the drinking water. The erosion as a result of climate changes may also negatively affect the fish and wildlife that call the lake home.
Tectonic Activity and Basic Topography: Tectonic uplift can cause one piece of landscape to lift higher than other areas, leading to erosion along the shoreline. Although this tectonic uplift generally takes years to develop, it is still a contributing factor to lake erosion. The inherent topography of the shoreline also contributes to the risk of erosion. Hilly areas are at a higher risk of experiencing soil erosion because the sediment particles are able to move through the moving water at a greater rate.
Vegetation and Tree Loss: Without the right amount of vegetation surrounding the body of water, there is a higher potential for lake erosion to occur. This is because plants are useful for connecting the soil with the roots, working together as a protection against soil erosion over time. In addition, plants guard the shoreline against rain impact by serving as a shield from direct splash. Lush vegetation that covers the soil near the shore of the lake will work to slow down the natural process of erosion.
Regardless of the cause of the erosion in your body of water, a lake management company in Florida can help you to identify and treat the issue. While you cannot stop Mother Nature completely, there are steps that you can take to slow down the process of lake erosion.
If you've been to a golf course with dirty and smelly water features, you know what an unpleasant experience it can be. While ponds can add beauty and relaxation to your property, they also have the potential to be a real eyesore if they're not maintained properly. Things like excessive weeds, water scum, discolored water, and noxious odors can be eliminated with a simple step. That's why you should consider regular pond dredging for golf course ponds. Here are just some of the benefits of dredging a golf course pond.
Ponds serve a very practical purpose on golf courses. They're not just aesthetically pleasing. In actuality, ponds often feed the course's irrigation system on a regular basis. This saves you a tremendous amount each year on your water bill. However, if your pond isn't well-maintained, your irrigation system's intake can become clogged with algae and other gunk from the dirty water. Pond management companies for golf courses can help to keep your intake clog-free and prevent costly damage to your irrigation system. Dredging the pond allows for the intake screens to be cleaned, repaired or replaced as necessary.
Eliminate Sand Bar Formation
There's a lot going on beneath the surface of your pond that you can't see. Natural processes can cause sandbars to form as the water begins to evaporate over time. This can lead to your pond becoming a swampy, grassy, mosquito-infested mess. Dredging your pond can get rid of all the gunk like sand, sediment and grime that has built up over time. It also clears up the water and restores the health of the pond's aquatic life.
Cut Down on Algae and Weeds
A dirty pond is not only an eye sore, it also smells bad. The cause of this ugly, smelly mess is often the overgrowth of algae, weeds and other types of sludge. If you don't take action, this vegetation can completely overtake your golf course pond. It blocks the sun and destroys nutrients, causing damage to aquatic life. Dredging removes the lower-level sediment that stimulates the production of algae. You can then use the material that is dredged up as fertilizer for other areas of your golf course, which is a nice bonus.
Finally, pond dredging for golf course ponds adds beauty to your property. Dirty, stinky ponds certainly won't encourage return visits by golfers, and you could lose out on quite a bit of revenue. People seek out well-maintained and beautiful golf courses. Pond dredging to your yearly maintenance plan will encourage your visitors to return again and again. It also cuts down on the need to purchase harmful chemicals to manage the algae.
Keep these benefits of dredging your golf course pond in mind. This simple addition to your maintenance routine can save you a great deal of money, time and frustration.
At Crosscreek Environmental, we believe in providing a comprehensive, environmentally friendly approach in creating solutions to maintain the beauty and health of Florida's ponds, lakes, wetlands, and shorelines. We use the B.E.S.T.™ geo-tube solution and are one of the best geo-tube solution providers in the state of Florida.