Floating Wetland Garden


NEW! Floating Wetland Garden
at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden


What Is It?

A large, recycled plastic-mesh raft planted with perennials, and anchored into place with cinderblocks. The raft measures 120-square-feet. 

Why Is It Important?

This plant-laden raft removes fertilizer from the lake and is part of a larger initiative to clean up Upham Brook. The restoration of this urban stream feeds into the Chickahominy River and is a top priority for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).

How Does It Work?

Roots grow through the mesh and dangle into the water, where they absorb run-off nitrogen and phosphorous that feed the algae blooms and create oxygen dead zones. Especially well-suited for storm water retention ponds, the floating islands are readily installed and easily maintained.

Where Can I Find It?

In Lake Sydnor, South of the Lotus Bridge.

Who Is The Garden Working With?

In partnership with the CBF, Lewis Ginter’s floating island is one of two currently in place. A second floating wetland is located at the nearby Belmont Golf Course.

How is this project funded?

A grant from a statewide restoration fund, financed by the purchase of Chesapeake Bay license plates, paid for the installations.

When, where and how did this idea originate?

Floating islands originated about a decade ago out West and has drifted East. Floating Island Southeast, based in Chapel Hill, N.C., is the exclusive provider of “BioHaven Islands” in Virginia and the Carolinas. The purchase price runs under $4,000 per island, including plants and shipping.

Small-scale studies, including one conducted by Virginia Tech, has shown positive results. Floating Island Southeast claims that one square foot of its buoyant botanicals will suck up 10 grams of nitrate, 15 grams of ammonia and 0.5 grams of phosphate per day.

What Else Will I See?

Lots of turtles – last count was 8!  Many pollinators such as hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies that are attracted to the plants that will bloom from Spring to Fall.

 How can I help?

The CBF is looking for a home for two more islands, which it is willing to install at no cost. The main commitment it seeks from a partner like a golf course or homeowners association is to pull in the island once a year and weed out invasive species.


 May 2013