• Gus Hetcher

Aquatic Plants and Your Environment

When it comes to aquatic plants, many people consider them as a nuisance at their favorite fishing or swimming hole. Whether it is the constant process of cleaning off your lure, the feeling of the plant against your leg while swimming, or the large beds of “weeds” that can form on the surface preventing you from enjoying the water, aquatic plants get a bad name. In most of these cases, vegetation becomes a problem due to poor management practices or the introduction of exotic species. To prevent aquatic plants from growing out of control, management practices, such as herbicide treatments and removal of exotic species and reintroduction of native species, may be warranted. When properly managed, aquatic plants, both emergent and submergent, offer many benefits to ponds and lakes.

Nutrient Control: Smaller waterbodies, especially ponds, are susceptible to algae blooms fueled by nutrient-rich water. Shoreline plants act as a natural filter and are proven to absorb pollutants and nutrients before they reach the water. Submergent plants also soak up excess nutrients within the water column that would otherwise promote algae growth.

Erosion Control: Bare shorelines risk having eroded banks. Soil erosion causes poor water quality due to suspended particles in the water and can lead to poor productivity within the waterbody. This can affect plant growth and fish growth and spawning success. Planting your shoreline with emergent and submergent plants is one of the best ways to reduce soil erosion and sediment in your water.

Habitat: A diverse habitat is the bottom foundation for having a healthy fishery. Emergent plants provide important living spaces for many organisms that fish prey upon such as aquatic insects, crustaceans, snails and minnows. Emergent plants also serve as a nursery for young fish, while submergent plants provide cover for larger-sized fish. Native flowering emergent plants also provide critical habitat for pollinators, which are in sharp decline.

Food: Many animals rely on aquatic plants for food. Waterfowl love the seeds and tubers (root structures) of many plants. An emergent planting can be customized to attract waterfowl.

Aesthetics: Many emergent plants have vibrantly colored flowers that blossom throughout the year. By planting these plants along the shoreline, these plants add additional color to your pond or lakefront. A healthy pond or lakefront not only looks pleasing, but can also aid in your property value.

Cason Associates can help you customize an aquatic planting on your pond or lakefront. We can also help you manage your “weed” problem if they are out of control. Aquatic plants are important. Get the most from your waters by encouraging native plants and controlling invasives. Call us today!

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