Floating Pond Plant Islands

Murky water and suspended algae

Cause 1: Too much sun

Cause 2: No plants

With more plants, there would be more shade, and the plants would use some of the nutrients that help algae grow. Alas, the fish and turtles also very much like to eat the plants. Not only does this lead to "no plants in the pond", it also generates a big mess, clogged filtration, and recurring cost for replacing plants.

Grow plants in separate containers and add to pond

Fail 1: The animals' (5 turtles, 4 large koi, and many small fish) appetite is much larger than the growth rate of several tubs of water hyacinth.

Fail 2: Even bigger mess.

Install wires and grow grapes along the wires

Fail 1: This provides some additional shade, but not enough to make a difference. Grapes grow densely too late in the year.

Bonus: This is the final piece in the "heron defense system" for this pond.

Bonus: Yummee grapes.

Floating Pond Pland Islands

Resolution: Covers about 1/3 of pond surface. Turtles can get into some of the floats (that's good, they get to eat greens), but not all. Mess is contained and easily removed. Water is getting clearer slowly.

Bonus: It looks very pretty.

Bonus: It was very fun to build.

Special thanks: http://www.pretotyping.org/

Construction of one island

Planning and Materials

  1. Decide on the size of your island. For very long/wide ones you will have to add stabilizers (see image above).
    1. 2 x 3 feet is about the largest simple element that works and can still be moved and lifted without falling apart.
  2. Get 2 inch PVC piping. For the simple rectangle you need 4 x 90 degree elbows and 4 straight pieces, for example 2 x 2' and 2 x 1.5'.
  3. Shade cloth or weed retainer. There are many kinds; make sure it's strong, made of polyester something (natural will rot), and allows some water flow. You need the area of the rectangle you are building, plus about 4 inches extra on each side.
  4. A large box of long zip ties, 12 inch is good (easy to shorten, hard to make longer).
  5. A piece of rope.
  6. PVC glue.
  7. Tools: A saw for the pipes, wire cutters or strong scissors for the zip ties, and scissors for the cloth. Rags to wipe glue. A drop cloth to work on is nice since it's easiest to work on a patio on the ground. Some pieces of scrap wood to support pipes when cutting and gluing.


  1. Cut pipes to length.
  2. Assemble dry and make sure it all fits and is the right size.
  3. Cut shadecloth to size.
  4. Glue pipes together.
  5. Let sit overnight to fully dry.
  6. Attach shadecloth with zip ties (see images) to create a nice "tub" with room for roots.


  1. Tie multiple islands together using rope or zippies
  2. Add plants