Last summer I did a series of articles on pond building. Then a couple of weeks ago my mom brought a floating pond island to my attention. Pond islands have lots of benefits. First, they add great color and foliage to the pond that the fish can’t get at to kill off—Koi and gold fish are notorious for eating anything they can get their grubby little mouths on. The planter below is available here on Amazon.
Another advantage of a floating island is that it provides shade for the water, discouraging the growth of algae. It also filters nutrients out of the pond that algae feeds on, and provides cover for the fish to hide from predators. In addition to all of this, floating ponds can provide a haven for frogs and other pond life that need somewhere safe to hang out.
If you have a really large pond, ducks and geese might use an island to nest on, to keep themselves and their eggs safe from predators like foxes, raccoons, and coyotes. Even a bird as large as a trumpeter swan can be in danger from a desperate predator. Smaller ponds can also benefit from a floating island.
You can buy floating islands commercially, they cost anywhere from $10 for a floater the right size for a single pot, to well into the hundreds for a larger pot. The two above pictures are both available for purchase online along with a multitude of variations.
Alternately, for a whole lot less money than you’d pay a business, you can build your own island.
There are lots of ways to do this—you’ll have to see what works best for you and your circumstances. First you need some kind of container to hold the plants in. Laundry baskets or something with a similar build, are common choices. Plywood or a similar product with holes cut in it just big enough to wedge a pot into or hanging baskets with coconut liner in them, but without the chains also make great options. This example came from Bonniesplants.com
If you use some kind of basket, line the inside with moss—you can usually get some at the garden shops. When it gets wet, it will bulk up. Then spread in a little dirt and stick your plants into it.
Now, for the floating part—Anything that floats will work great. I’ve heard of people attaching those pool noodles to their containers, PVC that had been firmly glued so it won’t let water in, or anything else you can think of that will provide buoyancy. I’ve even seen people use that expanding foam. I’m not sure what chemicals are in that stuff, though, so double check it before using it in the pond, or you could leach chemicals that could make you fish and other pond life sick. If you need a really large island for large water birds like ducks and geese, telephone poles or great big pieces of PVC may be called for to keep your island buoyant.
The Empress of Dirt has a full tutorial on her site.
Electrical tape, heat duct tape, zip ties and many other products can be used to attach the floatation device to your island. And don’t forget, if you have a pond pump or filter, you may need to attach the island in place so it won’t float in the way. Some people hook the floaters to the side of the pond with bungees, while others prefer to put a weight in the bottom of the pond and secure the island to it. If you’re concerned about predators who don’t like the water (rats, raccoons, etc). Attaching it to the bottom is your best bet.
When you’ve got the island built and have figured out how to secure it, use any marginal or bog plants that appeal to you and enjoy! Remember most flowering pond plants need at least six hours of sunlight to bloom.