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.
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.