University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
School of Forest Resources and Conservation


Broward County Extension Office 3245 S.W. College Ave. Davie, FL 33314


Aquascaping is the planting of aquatic and wetland plants in the enhancement, restoration or creation of fresh water systems. In enhancement, the current condition of the system is generally good but can be made better. Restoration is the return of a degraded area to its former condition; and in creation, wetlands systems are established where none existed. Created wetlands can mirror natural systems or they can be constructed in a more ornamental fashion.

Different types of wetland systems can be aquascaped, including lakes, retention ponds, detention ponds and other low-lying drainage areas. Each year many of these types of sites are created for stormwater management, and to provide fill for residential and commercial areas. Many natural wetland systems are likewise destroyed during the development process. These wetland systems provide many benefits, such as flood protection, water purification, and fish and wildlife habitat. Aquascaping areas created, or degraded, during development can replace some of these lost values.

Imitating nature is difficult at best, and even aquascaped areas that appear successful in terms of plant establishment may not be otherwise functioning in a natural manner. In fact, the wildlife values of created wetlands are virtually unknown. However, much progress has been made in learning how to aquascape using selected native and aquatic plants. A successful aquascape starts with a plan, including an engineering design of the area to be aquascaped. A few carefully considered design conditions can greatly enhance the wildlife value of a wetland planting while retaining its important stormwater management functions. For example, irregularly shaped retention ponds with islands in the middle offer far superior wildlife habitat than regularly shaped ponds.Shoreline areas are essential for the establishment of wetland plants, the creation of wildlife habitat, and also enhance the ability of the aquascape to biofilter stormwater runoff, while making shoreline areas safer for human activities. Shoreline shelves should be irregular in size and shape, approximately 10 to 15 meters (30 to 50 feet) wide, with at least a 6:1 slope. Plants are placed according to their tolerance of water depth. A typical marsh shoreline planting includes four zones along a depth range from completely exposed to completely submerged.Plants should come from locally grown stock. Deeper zone plants should be grown first and all areas above the planting zone should be landscaped to prevent erosion and siltation of plantings. Importantly, once a shoreline is planted a maintenance program should be established to hand-remove nuisance vegetation such as cattails.

If you would like more information on aquascaping please contact:

Dr.Frank J. Mazzotti
Broward County Extension Agency
3245 College Avenue
Davie, FL 33314

This public document was promulgated at a cost of $15.73 or $0.03146 a copy to inform the homeowner of the latest information in Urban Wildlife Management, a cooperative effort between the Nongame Program, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and IFAS, University of Florida.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Employment Opportunity – Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin

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