The Guide to Native and Invasive Aquatic Plants and Weeds
The health, well-being, and aesthetic value of any waterbody largely relies on its aquatic plants. This refers to any type of vegetation that grows in water, whether that’s saltwater or freshwater in creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Every plant species has unique characteristics that enable them to thrive in their environments, but overgrowth of these plants or the presence of invasive species can wreak havoc on lakes or ponds if they are not properly maintained.
The Outcomes of Invasive Plant Growth
This can lead to many problems, especially in community associations. Explosive growth of aquatics plants can clog stormwater pond equipment, increasing the risk of flooding and shoreline damage. Floating plant masses can also block sunlight and cause water to become stagnant, which may degrade water quality conditions and kill beneficial species that keep the ecosystem in a balanced state. Unbalanced waterbodies are more hospitable to toxic algae and other dangers. And as these problems increase in intensity, so do complaints from residents.
The best way to avoid this vicious cycle is to prevent it in the first place. Property managers can successfully preserve community waterbodies by partnering with professionals who have the tools and expertise to keep aquatic plants in check. This starts with understanding the defining features of nuisance and aquatic vegetation, and the most effective ways to manage them:
What's the Difference Between A Native Aquatic Plant & An Invasive Aquatic Plant?
Invasive aquatic plants have the following characteristics:
- Sometimes brought to waterbodies for aesthetic purposes
- Often spread via the movement of boats and recreational equipment
- Presence and overgrowth can cause environmental harm, Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and impact recreational use
Native aquatic plants have the following:
- Naturally found in the waterbody or transferred with no detrimental effects
- Can still have negative impacts if not properly managed
- It is important for any waterbody management plan to take both types of species into consideration.
What Are The Four Types of Aquatic Plants?
There are four main categories of aquatic plants:
- Rooted Floating
Managing Aquatic Vegetation
Whether or not a species is native or invasive, all plants require some level of monitoring and maintenance. To help curb moderate growth, professionals may recommend rebalancing water quality conditions with solutions like nutrient remediation, biological bacteria, and fountains and aerators. Explosive growth may require more impactful tools like bioengineered shorelines, mechanical hydro-raking, or EPA-registered herbicides, which are highly safe and effective when applied by a licensed professional.
No matter the type of waterbody or target species, all lakes and ponds can benefit from ongoing management. Annual management programs are tailored to address the unique needs of a waterbody, while also aligning with the goals and budget of stakeholders. Property managers can find great success by partnering with a lake management provider that specializes in annual management, so they can spend more time and funds improving other amenities around the community.
How to Achieve A Weed-Free Waterbody
SOLitude Lake Management is a nationwide environmental firm committed to providing sustainable solutions that improve water quality, enhance beauty and preserve natural resources.
SOLitude’s team of aquatic scientists specializes in the development and execution of customized lake, stormwater pond, wetland and fisheries management programs. Services include water quality testing and restoration, algae and aquatic weed control, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, shoreline erosion control, muck and sediment removal and invasive species management. SOLitude partners with homeowners associations, golf courses, private landowners, businesses and municipalities. SOLitude Lake Management is part of Rentokil, a leading business services company, operating across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.