Many people don’t realize that there are helpful and harmful aquatic plants. Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t know the differences between the two. If left unchecked, however, harmful plants can quickly overrun your lake and cause many issues.

Harmful and helpful aquatic plants can take on many forms and may even look similar. It’s important to know about the various types of aquatic plants for lake maintenance, so here are some of the types of vegetation to keep an eye on.

Floating Vegetation

In many cases, floating vegetation is harmful to your lake. This is because floating vegetation isn’t limited on where and how far it can travel. The root system of floating vegetation is not fixed, but rather suspended in water so that the plant floats on top of the surface of the water. 

Floating vegetation spreads quickly. Since it covers the surface of the water, it can significantly reduce the amount of oxygen, and sunlight organisms receive in the water. If floating vegetation isn’t carefully managed or controlled, it will quickly overrun your lake. Once this happens, it can cause irreversible damage to the marine life that calls your lake home and the wildlife that lives nearby. 

It’s important to bear in mind that there are floating vegetation Lilies that are actually good and native to the lakes.

Submerged Vegetation

Submerged vegetation is primarily underwater and remains below the surface, however there can be some submerged plants that do reach the surface. Many submerged plants aren’t harmful and actually provide marine life with food and nutrients. However, there are some plants that are invasive and can quickly take over your lake.

Submerged plants shouldn’t be removed unless they are clearly harming your lake or pond. Young fish use them to hide, and some may even snack on the leaves. In many ways, submerged plants are helpful to your pond. That being said, it’s important to recognize when submerged plants become harmful.

Algae is one type of submerged vegetation that can cause issues. Although only some types of algae are submerged, they can become quite difficult and unmanageable.

Emergent Vegetation

Emergent vegetation is rooted in the pond or lake floor but is primarily out of the water. Perhaps the most well-known type of emergent vegetation is cattails. 

Emergent vegetation is helpful as it helps keep the shoreline stable and prevents the bank from eroding. However, some emergent vegetation is invasive and will take over the shoreline if you don’t control it. In this case, it makes it difficult for wildlife to access the water, slows down the flow of water, and even encourages more plants to take over the water.

Thanks to their ability to protect your shoreline, emergent vegetation is something that you should keep. It’s important to prevent it from growing out of control, but in general, emergent vegetation is considered more helpful than harmful.


Most people know how to recognize algae and will agree that it isn’t a desirable type of vegetation. However, algae aren’t inherently bad. They can provide a safe place for young fish and a source of food, but some forms of algae can be toxic. An example of good algae is the Filamentous algae.

Blue-Green and Golden algaes, in particular, emit toxins and will harm the local marine life and wildlife. It’s important to identify this type of algae quickly and eliminate it before it harms the environment.

Leave Your Lake Maintenance to Karina Lakefront

In general, emergent plants are beneficial, but it’s important to prevent them from growing out of control and taking over the shoreline. Submerged plants need to be kept under control and, in small bodies of water, are almost always considered harmful. Floating plants are usually harmful and should be prevented at all costs. To be sure, it’s best to leave your lake maintenance in the hands of our experts at Karina Lakefront Maintenance. We have years of expertise and knowledge with Florida lakes and know how to identify and handle helpful and harmful aquatic plants so you can enjoy a healthy lakefront.