How to Aquascape


Aquascaping is the practice of planting ornamental and landscape plants that grow well in wetlands, ponds or swamps. These wetland plants are often native to the locale. Another method of aquascaping is to plant it as a buffer zone between a lakeshore and a cultivated lawn area. Aquascapes are created in these areas to absorb or intercept runoff from artificial fertilization into the body of water and decrease shoreline soil erosion.

Step 1

Create a planting bed between the shoreline of the body of water and your cultivated lawn area. Make the planting bed 15 to 30 feet in width. Prepare the soil by removing any existing lawn grass and other vegetation.

Step 2

Choose native, non-invasive plants for inclusion in your aquascape. Some native wetland plants that are non-invasive include blue-flag iris, horsetail, water lilies, soft rush, lizard's tail, American lotus and arrowhead. Check with your local County Extension Agent for recommendations on the best native, non-invasive plants suitable for an aquascape in your locale.

Step 3

Include trees in your aquascape, such as swamp tupelo, swamp dogwood or lobolly bay. These trees will provide a food source and shelter for small animals and birds. Check with your local County Extension Agent to determine wetland trees that are suitable for your climate.

Step 4

Plant grasses at the water's edge as hiding places for fish. Use maidencane grass, bulrush sedgegrass and spikerushes. These aquatic grasses also control soil erosion with their substantial yet compact root systems. Your local County Extension Agent is the best source for recommendations regarding plants that are both non-invasive and winter hardy in your USDA Hardiness Zone.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not plant water hyacinth or purple loosestrife in your aquascape; they are non-native plants that have proven to be invasive and detrimental to the ecosystem of lakes and wetlands by crowding out desirable native plants and eliminating habitats needed by fish and wildlife.

Things You'll Need

  • Native wetland plants
  • Gardening tools


  • North Carolina State University Extension: Aquatic Weeds
  • University of Florida Extension: Aquascaping in Florida
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