DIY Floating Island Planting Manual

So you’ve purchased your own floating island, now the fun begins!

Depending upon the island that you chose, your floating island will have arrived via US Postal Service, or a freight carrier.

If you forgot to purchase WaterSoil Planting Mix, you can still order it.

Your island has been manufactured in California and protected from UV light damage at the manufacture site.

Gather Material

Depending upon the size of your BioHaven® floating island, you might need:

Plastic sheet or tarp (to plant island on and easily pull to water body)

Anchor cable

Depending upon your water depth the cable or tether will vary

For larger islands, it’s generally a good idea to allow around 5 feet more than water depth

Anchors or tethers – also depends on island size, for a tiny island you won’t need much and can sometimes simply tether it.

Plants of your choice.

Planting medium:

  • There are different types that will do the job; however, our preferred island planting mix is WaterSoil
  • You can choose to use soil, peat moss, or even coco-peat

Whichever route you choose to go with your planting mix, it’s always a good rule of thumb to choose something with water wicking abilities, as your plants will need that during the initial growing phase.

Landscape pins: Usually only needed if you are using sod on the island, the pins will be used to hold the sod in place – similar to how you would use a pin to hold something onto a cork board.

Tools: Serrated-edge knife, mallet, trowel.

Watering Can or Bucket: Once plants are all in place, you will want to wet them a bit

Planting Location & Prep

Once all material for your BioHaven® floating island has been gathered, next is setting up the desired plant & launch site.  Lay out a plastic sheet or tarp near the water’s edge. The smooth texture of the tarp or plastic sheet will make the floating island launch process much smoother when pulling the fully planted island into the water.  In addition to preventing damage to the underside of the island, the tarp will also reduce any unwanted debris, such as weeds or dirt from getting pulled along the bottom of the floating island. Put the island on the tarp.

Anchor Cables

If you purchased any of our smaller floating island models (25 square feet or less), your anchor cable will already be installed.  However, if you have a larger floating island, it may need to be shipped in a few pieces and will require assembly.  This step will apply to any of our modular floating islands, which are fairly easy to assemble.  To begin assembly of larger islands (or modular floating wetlands), you will need to line all island pieces in order with matching letters or numbers, then run the cable from the outside through the pipe and into the correlating module.


Once cable is all the way through your modular floating wetland, pull tight to make sure that there is no gap or space between the floating island modules.  Your island modules should be tight together to form a single unit.  You should have a more detailed instructional sheet included, but you can always contact us and we will be happy to help.

Planting Mix

We recommend that you add our special formulated planting medium to your planting pockets – the holes (planting pockets) in the island also serve as water wicking channels.  When choosing a planting mix for your floating island, it is important to keep in mind that you will want something that will wick or pull water up to the plant roots…this is essential during the initial growing period, as your plants will need to establish roots.  Initially the roots may not reach the water, which makes the planting mix even more important.


WaterSoil® is a specialty formulated planting mix designed specific to our floating islands.  Although many types of planting mediums may be used with floating islands, WaterSoil® will give your plants the upper hand by stimulating plant growth, promoting consistent moisture, improving soil microbiology, and producing healthy plants with stronger root systems.

Begin Planting

Planting a floating island is fairly easy.  Your island will have planting pockets. Add a bit of planting mix into each of the planting pockets before adding plants. Your floating island planting mix should wick water, as your new plants will need extra water during the initial growing period.

Remove about 1/3 of old potting mix from root ball, loosening gently and being careful not to damage plant roots.

Place plants into floating island planting pockets and plant as usual, just be careful that the plants do not sit too low or too high in the plant pockets.

Once plants are established, you shouldn’t be able to see the floating island matrix.

Launching the floating wetland

This is where that tarp or plastic sheeting will come in handy.  For large islands, you may need additional help as you slowly push, or pull (whichever is easiest for you) the island into the water.

Once the island is in the water, try to see how high or low it sits with the waterline.  Ideally, it should sit 1/2 above and 1/2 below, but it also depends on what type of island you have, and the weight load.  If your island appears to sit very high above the waterline, you can weigh it down with some cobblestone or small weights. During the initial growing period, your plants need time to establish strong roots that will eventually make their way to the water.  Your planting mix should also help with this, by wicking water up to the roots.  In the meantime, you can help the plants, by getting them closer to the water.

Here’s an example of planting a floating island…

Informative BioHaven Video from iConserve Pennsylvania

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