building floating islands of plants for the pond?

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

I was just thinking that I could build a floating island or two to float
around the pond. I am just beginning to think about it. I could use
styrofoam for flotation and maybe capped plastic juice bottles. The
raft could be constructed of those plastic net storage containers,
maybe a couple attached to each other. I could line them with
landscape cloth, fill them with good, rich soil, and plant them with
primrose, dwarf cat tails, etc. I guess that just sounds crazy?

Saint Cloud, FL(Zone 9b)

Sounds like fun! take pics of finished product? I guess you'd have to sink your pots with those bogplants a bit within the network of (mostly filled) plastic juice bottles, so they have contact with the water? Interesting project!

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I'd love to see how it all goes together. Take a few pics of the whole process and the end results. There were a few threads several years ago with different ideas on making floating islands. One of them was taking foam pool mats and cutting holes in them to sink the pots.
You might want to add a tether with weight to the island to keep it from moving around. Maybe two one that hangs straight down and one to the edge of the pond so you can pull the island in when you want to work on it.

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

Holly, I really don't dare go there, but possibly I could grow a lotus without endangering my entire pond with its proliferations? I could pull in and take the seed pods before they ripen?

A foam pond pad? Where would I find one?
I like the idea of weights and tethers attached so that I could pull the thing in too.

It started out as just a crazy idea that popped into my head while I was day dreaming, but I think I really like it.

Thanks a lot and keep the ideas coming!


Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I've seen foam floating pond islands for sale, they were pretty pricey. They were a thick (couple of inches) black soft foam with holes cut out that pots would sit down in. They make pool floats out of the same material (those are bright colors) and the talk was could you find old ones to use or if you bought new ones would they be cheaper to use than the specialized pond ones. Several years ago someone in Fl. had a pond with rising water levels and had this idea of making these island that would rise and fall with the water level. I'll go back and see if I can find the thread.

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

That's what I have: a pond with dramatically rising and falling levels. What I planted on the margins in the summer are now all dead, I am certain. It's so frustrating.

Maybe I could use a styrene storage bin and work with that, bouying it up with capped empty bottles of air or something like that.
I would have it almost completely submerged. Ah well, maybe down the road.

Mukwonago, WI

my crocs were getting scary to wear on wet pavement, so I cut the bottom off one and put it in my little pond. had some plants that needed tethering because they kept flipping over. will let you know how it works. my little fish seem to like it.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I was thinking about a raft type, at water level with the plants hanging down thru and maybe your soda bottles used like pontoons? That old thread isn't in my watched thread groups anymore and I looked back thru the threads 20 pages but didn't find it yet. It was about 2 years ago. Good luck with the project and don't forget to take a few pics while you are working on it.

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Disney does it with flowers, the island are made of styrofoam and are anchored>

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

Oh my, I knew it could be done! That is just beautiful. I now have to think about where I can get Styrofoam (free if possible.) I know a lot of businesses ship with it, for example.
I could play around with how much Styrofoam I would need to keep a plastic bin afloat but just barely. I could also use rocks in the bin to balance it out. I could drill holes in the sides of the box so that water would saturate all the soil and growing medium. At this point I am not even going to think about what to grow in them.

I always have way too many projects going at the same time. But I can get a neighbor interested and he or she would have some good construction ideas I imagine.

Actually, I have lots of primula Japonica and primula Florindae (3' tall) which would look nice. I do have Japanese iris and LA iris too. Then I could add sedge and other grasses. (if I had my way, it would look like an airplane carrier!) I could pull them in for winter and put them out in spring. I could even plant a little willow tree?

Lake Charles, LA

LOL gloriag ! Be careful or your pond may become just a 'really' wet flower bed. Google uses for stryofoam- how to recycle, they may have some neat ideas for you. Good luck and please post pics of the project. Liz

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)


You can wire styrofoam together. It is easy to poke holes thru if you have a piece of heavy gauge wire. Don't worry about where it sits as long as some part of the soil is in water. It will sink slowly as the plants get bigger. Add a piece of foam to the bottom or sides if it gets too low in the water. You can paint the foam with aerosol paint for plastic.

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Fort Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10b)

Very, very interesting idea! I did a Google search for floating flower islands in ponds:

Floating islands
Cross Section of floating island planter
Planting diagram
Plants suitable for island planters

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

Bedouin! What wonderful links. I put the list of plants on my Pond part of my blog. I know many of them, but not all. Also, I am trying to grow many from seed. That is not always successful. I will have to cut and paste the cross section of the floating planter as well and put it in my Pond part of the blog too. It will certainly come in handy.

It started out the other day as a CRAZY IDEA, , just a fantasy. Now it really seems possible. That's what Thoreau said, something
like, "advance in the direction of your dream and you will realize success undreamed of in the common hour." I am an old lady, and I can tell you my dreams are unfolding constantly. I have to say that Dave's Garden is responsible for a whole lot of it. There are such helpful and wonderful people here. Thank you, thank you.

Fort Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10b)

Gloriag, age is perception-related! I've known an ancient 30 year old and an 84 year youngster who was still ready to conquer the world! When we stop dreaming, we are DEAD!

Eva Bombeck:
Life is not a journey to the grave
With the intention of
Arriving safely in a pretty
And well preserved body,
But rather to skid in broadside,
Thoroughly used up,
Totally worn out,
And loudly proclaiming,

WOW !!!! What a ride!

Yes, I agree. The talent and imagination of DG's membership astonishes, teaches and whets the appetitie, constantly!

This message was edited May 24, 2009 10:42 AM

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I was wondering about floating fiber mats. Maybe a mix of bamboo, barley straw things like that then put your plants into the mat and let the roots work there way thru. Like that Mexican? city that was on the lake and most of it was just floating on a huge raft of rush. Oh those old school days and history lessons. LOL

Fair Play, SC(Zone 7b)

Cut some bamboo and tie together like a raft to float. That would look good. Mekos

Kingston, OK(Zone 7a)

I made one out of blue foam. Used metal lathe and hypertufa to look like stone with a hlole in the center to hold a pot..
Was small and was going to make a big one out of 4 x 8 sheet but never got the time yet.

Fort Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10b)

TARogers could you post a picture of your float please?

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

Can you find a piece of foam that large? TYVEK? I keep thinking of materials. Bamboo or fiber would be lovely, but I don't think I could bring it off $$. After thinking about it, I will have to limit myself on what I can plant. Around the pond it is very wild (bordered with poison oak and orange daylilies and scrub bushes/trees.)
I can't go in and plant impatiens or begonias I don't think. In addition,
I have five water lilies which will get bigger and bigger. I am thinking along the lines of ferns, dwarf cat tails, rushes, and wilder looking flowers. I just picked up some lovely purple varigated ajuga and a mixed lavender sweet potato. Also, I bought three yellow varigated lysimachia last year. They could be some of the low mix.

I really like the idea of the foam pipe insulation to hold things up in the water. This afternoon I found two Pepsi plastic crates (blue) on my patio/deck. Someone put them there for me. They are approximately 18.5" x 12.5" x 3.5" which is shallow. The sides and bottoms have cut out designs so there is no solid surface. I could paint them dark green and use them either right side up or upside down. I could glue the pipe insulation underneath or on the sides. Maybe it is too shallow, but I could plant the things in fine nylon netting or nylon hose weighted with rocks. I guess right side up is the only feasible way if I use them.

However, I would rather have a larger free form shape since the pond is wild and informal to say the least. So where could I find a sheet of foam which I could carve to a curvy shape? I could actually glue two of the sheets together if necessary.

Kingston, OK(Zone 7a)

Hope this works

This message was edited May 20, 2009 8:09 PM

Fair Play, SC(Zone 7b)

I have some rough horse tail.

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

I didn't read all the posts but have thought about making something similar but out of the floating tubes kids use in swimming pools ($1.00/each at the dollar store). I thought I could sew a seam and thread it through or use industrial staples to attach it.

Fair Play, SC(Zone 7b)

That sounds great. Would put some color in also, and you can bend and shape them how you want. Worth thinking about. I might try that in my larger pond.

Fort Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10b)

Excellent idea re 'floating tubes'. They now have flat ones, about 4" wide. They are extremely flexible and if curved you could tie them in a circle, leaving the centre free for your plant pot/mesh/soil/plants. Probably putting some plants in cut up stockings would also help to keep the soil intact. Tie a knot at the bottom of the cut stocking and it becomes a perfect 'pot'. I use them for my water plants. Alas, not many people wear long stockings here! Knee high stockings work well!

Annapolis, MD

Around here a lot of watermen keep their bait in cages suspended from PVC piping and tied to a piling.

Folks who are oyster gardening use a similar design, either a Taylor Float or an Oyster Float Bag.

I'm sure you could easily adapt it, but it won't allow as much flexibility in forming shapes as styrofoam. . .

Here's the best link I could find on how to build a Taylor Oyster Float:

West Palm Beach, FL

I made my own floating islands using the pool noodles and some plastic mesh baskets. I got both from the dollar store. I used zip ties (cable ties) to attach the noodles to the baskets. You can find the noodle and baskets in all kinds of colors and the baskets come in different shapes and sizes. You can easily cut the noodles to fit the shapes and sizes of your baskets. I lined my baskets with screen if planting straight into them to prevent potting mix from escaping. I usually place potted plants in the basket so that I can change them out from time to time.

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

It's ugly right now, but I have my first experimental island floating near the shore. It is tethered to an iron weed plant on the pond's edge. I took some dark gray dense foam (from matting meant to put near/under exercise equipment so the feet don't get jarred (or something like that.)
I have no experience with my camera or putting a photo on DG. It's just as well because right now it's ugly. I used knee-hi hose to put around the roots of a red, tall canna and a clump of hosta. This should keep the koi
from eating the roots, etc. They came charging over when they heard the splash. They are very curious or bored.

It floats just fine, but I may have made the openings too small (or too big)
I fear the plants will slip through the openings even though I stretched the knee-hi and tied it over the edge and back around the plant itself.
We'll see. I may add a petunia or two for color and to cover the ugly gray. I will use nylon netting for that, double over because it is coarse.

Just an experiment! Lots of room for improvement.

Hulbert, OK(Zone 7a)

Glad to see this thread, I just happened to be standing in a dollar
store today with my thinking cap on. Sure enough, I came here to
find others with the same idea.

Great minds, I tell ya!

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

It was a disaster! The foam stank of strong chemicals. This morning the first dead fish I have seen since last summer was floating in the water near it. I hauled it out fast. Fortunately, the pond has 72,000 gallons. I give up, period. I just hope no other fish die.

What I am going to concentrate are the beds and vegetation near the pond. As an aside, I saw this huge, wild tropical plant with flowers similar to Queen Anne's Lace along The Little River here. I took a leaf to study it and decided to go back when the seeds were ripe. The plant is
WATER HEMLOCK. This is the deadliest poisonous plant in North America! Thanks to google I may have saved my life. People should not touch it, much less get the sap on themselves. It has killed many, many people. I cannot understand why I have never heard of it before.
It has huge tropical leaves, but there is a ferny leaf variety of it too.

New Hampshire, NH(Zone 5b)

Gardner's Supply out of Burlington VT sells floating islands. They are pricey, but perhaps the link will give you ideas for how to make one.,default,pd.html

I have one and it works great. I have iris, primrose and hosta planted in it - and moss. Last winter I just left it in the pond and everything came back beautifully.

Amsterdam, NY(Zone 5a)

How would you anchor it?

New Hampshire, NH(Zone 5b)

There's a built in loop on the bottom. I attached a string and tied it around a rock.

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