Step-by-step instructions for building a do-it-yourself
floating island for ponds
the shape of your island on a piece of cardboard, we used a
green file folder because we had one handy. We drew our island
shape that looked a bit like a bif footprint. You could make
any shape island you want. We're going to try different shapes
but this was our first attempt at building a pond island so
we'll use it.
Use a big black marker to trace the shape of your template onto
the coarse filter material. We used a 2" thick piece.
the carpet-knife or box cutter or sharp blade to carefully cut
the shape of your island out of your piece of filter material.
We then traced and cut another island shape the same as the
first so we could put one on top of the other to make the island
We tried to put our template for tracing as close to the corner
adge as possible so we could make many islands out of the large
5' x 5' piece of filter material we had.
Once we had our two identical shapes cut out of our 2"
filter material we chose one as the top section and carefully
carved out a "bowl" in one of the sections. We wanted
a bowl to hold the soil for our plants so with our 2" thickness
we carved out about 1.5" so we had about half an inch at
the bottom of our top island section.
We left about 1 or 2 inches of an edge around the section.
this first attempt at building our diy floating pond island
we wondered how to make sure the top and bottom sections stayed
Our first idea was to sew the section together using fishing
line. We used a sewing needle and some clear fishing line to
sew the top and bottom section together. It worked well!
We didn't try and do really close stitches, just enough to hold
the island together while we did the final shaping.
The foam that you will inject to provide the boyancy will also
help hold the two sections together as it will expand between
the fibres and lock together.
shape the island. We used scissors to just slope the edge of
the island so it was smooth and even. Be careful l not to cut
the fishing line that holds the two sections together.
This final sculpting really made the island look nice!
We were starting to get excited about the progress!
be able to inject the foam into the filter material you need
to poke some holes into the island. We used a screwdriver to
poke holes through the island. We basically made the hole go
all the way through the island.
Poking a hole with a screwdriver was the only think we found
that worked...we tried a drill but it just wound up around the
filter materials so poking holes seemed like the good old fashioned
way that worked best!
inject the waterfall foam or expandable foam into the holes
you poked with the screwdriver. The foam expands to many times
the original spray size so go slow. The cans of foam come with
strawlike injectors so you can just push the injector into the
hole you make in the island and slowly...slowly release the
For this small island I used about 2 or 3 ounces of a 12 ounce
can of foam.
I had poked about 10 holes in the island. I will try different
amounts in new floating island projects once I see how this
After we injected the foam into the holes we added a few squirts
between the two layers on the edge...for this first proto-type
we just eyeballed it...the foam expands so much that after you
do a small squeeze you can see it expanding into the fibers
of the matrix.
We let it sit on a piece of cardboard so none of the foam would
drip onto the grass. It only took a couple of hours to dry and
then we trimmed off any bulbs of foam that had formed in on
our island dried we took it to the pond to test it out. It
floated! We were so happy and the fish were very curious about
it and right away were swimming underneath it!
So it passed the float test and now we just needed to go and
plant some plants into our floating island.
In this picture we placed our homemade floating pond island
next to one of the commercial ones we have had in our pond for
the last 5 years.
Here is a picture of the island we made beside our commercial
island we were going to borrow plants from.
Our little white island looks pretty sad next to the fully bloomed
island but when the commercial island was planted years ago
it didn't look much better so we decided not to let appearances
start by using an aqutic planting soil and some peat-moss and
rubbing it into the island. We soaked it with a hose and rubbed
the soil mix with a bit of peat into the island. We could see
that the soil mixture started filling the spaces between the
white fibres of the island.
As we rubbed the island started to become brown...we were getting
happier with our project!
We borrowed some of the plants off our existing island to start
our new pond island.
Some of the root sections we wanted to transpalnt were pretty
big and so we used a knife to slice deeper holes into our new
floating island. We were cutting into the foam as well, basically
digging a hole to fit the root ball into the hole.
is the finished product fresh off the assembly line!
Not too shabby!
So now we need to put this island somewhere to test.
Our backyard pond is a bit too small for another island sincwe
we have two already so we ent out and bought one of those
half barrels to use as a mini water garden on our back deck.
is our floating island in the "test pond"! We added
some of the water hyacinths that were growing like crazy in
our pond to the barrel to create a nice ring around our freshly
planted floating island which sits in the middle.
We actually had to add a few rocks onto the island as it was
sitting high in the water the first two days but then it seemed
to lower in the water and we removed some ballast.
What a fun project! We already want to do it again! We are
already planning our next project to build a do-it-yourself
floating pond island! We will upload photos of the island as
it progresses...we could already see that the plants we moved
from the other island weren't too happy about being transplanted
in August but we had no choice...the other islands were tipping
over from too many plants that were too tall!
A Floating Island Instructions for a small homemade floating
Version One - Our First Island : This is for an 18" x 10"
Required Materials We Used Coarse Filter Material
1.5" to 2" thick filter medium available at any pond store
or aquarium store. It's the same filter material that is in pond filter
falls or in biological filters. Usually comes in white, blue or black
with different densities. Any fish safe pond filter material will
work. There are some cheap filters for furnaces and dust collection
systems but you should use a proper filter material used in pond skimmer
or filters so you know it will last and won't hurt your fishies.
The same expanding foam that is used in building a pond waterfall
can be used to provide bouyancy for your homemade floating island.
You will need less than a can for the small island. We wanted to use
the Rockin'Foam waterfall foam but didn't have any so we bought
Great Stuff insulating foam sealant. Because the filter material
is white the yellowish color of the Great Stuff foam was a little
less obvious. We are going to try a black coarse filter material next
time and will use the black pond waterfall foam so it hides better.
Carpet Knife/Box Cutter or Heavy-Duty Knife
You will need to cut the filter material into the shape you want.
A long blade can make the job easier. A box cutter type of blade with
a secure handle and adjustable steel blade can do the job.
Screwdriver & Scissors
Something to poke holes in the filter medium so you can inject the
foam into the holes. Scissors can be good to do the finishing to sculpt
the island smooth and make nice conoured edges.
Fishing Line and Heavy Duty Sewing Needles
We sewed two layers of the cut and shaped filter material together
to create a thicker floating island. It was a nice experiment! Using
a large 2" straight needle and a 3" curved needle we were
able to sew the layers together and then sew the edges together almost
like a hem.
What is a floating island?
A floating pond island is like a floating pond planter only
better. It is a floating island that can drift arounbd your
pond that is full of plants. Anything from grasses to irises
will grow. You can plant almost anything into a homemade floating
There are commercially available versions of floating islands
and floating planters but they are costly.
With a few simple tools and some readily available products
you can build your own floating island and have it planted and
floating in your pond in only a few hours and much cheaper.
It is also a great project!
If you want, there are floating islands available online for
a few hundred dollars up to many thousands of dollars but if
you want to build a cheap floating island for your pond then
you can follow our step by step instructions to see how to build
a floating island.
Fish love floating islands and can hide under them and shade
themselves from the sun. Floating Islands become a habitat for
frogs and birds and larger islands can become a haven for larger
The plant roots grow into the pond and provide filtration and
reduce nutrients. Apparantly the material used to build the
islands acts like a biological filter. There are commercially
available versions of floating islands and floating planters
but our instructions show how to build your own exactly the
size and shape you want for way less money..
For DIY people like us we wanted to share some easy ways to
build your own floating island..
We already had two floating islands in our small backyard pond
and they were fantastic. They have been with us for 5 years
now and we have kept them in our 500 gallon pond over each winter
and they came back and grew like crazy every season. When we
decided to build our own floating island it was more about trying
recreate the obvious simplicity of the system...they were bought
for $150 each and they are worth every penny but we wanted to
try and do it ourselves.
Now that we have we want to share the diy step by step instructions
for building your own floating island. It might be easier to
buy a commercial island but we wanted to prove we could build
the same thing or better for much cheaper!
You can too!
Commercially Available Floating Islands
and Floating Planters Islandscapes
Floating Island Islandscapes,
Floating Island Ecosystems for ponds and water gardens. Islandscapes
provide many advantages to the pond owner: beauty, fish and
wildlife benefits, and natural filtration. Islandscapes are
made of recycled plastic biomesh bonded by buoyant foam. They
are pesticide and herbicide free, and durable enough to withstand
hard winter freezing. Each island contains: Tether ring for
anchor, Islandscapes growing media, Instructions for use, 5
year warranty Plants not included Islandscapes can grow almost
anything - herb gardens, terrestrial flowers & shrubs.
You can even grow vegetables and fruit on your islands as well
as bog plants. Islandscapes provide shade and safety from predetors.
Roots and concentrated nutrients have a tasty "floating supermarket"
effect that is beneficial to fish growth. They also provide
habitat for frogs and turtles. Islandscapes attract and bond
suspended solids. The open matrix and the plant roots provides
floating phytofilter, a true four-stage biological system that
removes phosphates, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites. The effect
on water quality is dramatic and completely chemical free. Plants
growing on islands are 2-5 times more efficient in removing
pollutants from pond water than plants in pots. Islandscapes
The Laguna Floating Plant Basket is ideal for ponds that don't
have adequate plant shelves. The Laguna Plant baskets make planting
and maintenance easy. Made of finely-woven fabric, the plant
basket provides excellent soil containment and protects plants
from fish. The baskets are made with buoyant Styrofoam that
ensures the basket says at the surface and the plants are easily
anchored to ensure they stay securely in place. 20"
Floating Island Planter
20" foam collar with a 16" x 7" plastic liner.
Protects plants from grazing koi fish and goldfish. Self watering
design. Constructed of heavy duty foam for long life. These
floating islands can be used in an existing watergarden or you
can use the island in a water filled container or half barrel
as a self-watering system. Soil not included. Pond
Kits & Water Gardens Just Add Fish and Plants and You're Ready to Enjoy
the Wonders of a Natural Ecosystem. This is an introductory
pond kit and can be used by a novice or first time ponder to
build a simple pond. It comes complete with liner, pump and
tubing. Everything you need to start your pond. Kit contains
the following items:. 10ft. x 12ft. nontoxic, polyethylene liner
for a 6ft. x 8ft. x 18in.D pond. 3 planting baskets. Fish-safe,
energy-efficient pump and tubing to aerate water and keep fish
and plants healthy. Clog-resistant, adjustable fountainheads
that spray two patterns: fleur de lis and dome. Starter water
treatment and conditioner for proper water balance. Natural
pad of barley straw for clear water. Complete instructions for
assembly and maintenance. Rocks not included. U.S.A. Pond
Kits & Water Gardens
Care to Leave Your Comments?
We'd love to hear from you about your island building project
or any comments or advice you may have forother do it yourselfers!