At 241 acres, Garner Lake, often called Lakeland Lake, is the largest lake in Shelby County. It's 1.1 miles long, has 8.44 miles of shoreline, and has 264 lakefront homes.
The lake is fed by Scott’s Creek entering at the south end as well as runoff from approximately 777 acres. An Artesian well helps maintain the water level during dry months. Depth is over 50 ft along the dam extending a few hundred yards down the middle.
The lake is clear and clean, and surface water temperatures hover in the 80s in the summer, making it ideal for swimming, floating on a raft, or "riding a noodle" with refreshments and friends.
Residents share the lake with an assortment of ducks, geese, heron, kingfishers, eagles, otters, migratory ducks and birds, and many other animals.
An abundance of fish inhabit the lake including bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish, and have earned the lake a wide reputation among fishermen. It is fished only moderately as fishing is limited to property owners and guests accompanied by property owners.
Over 500 boats are home on the lake. Pontoons are ubiquitous but kayaks, run-abouts, fishing boats, paddle boats, and sailboats are also popular. Boats travel at leisurely speeds as there is a 15 hp limit on motors.
In summer boaters often tie up together to swim, share drinks and dishes, and socialize.
Sunsets are a spectacle to celebrate almost every evening. The sky is often painted in yellow, orange, and reds over a 270° arc, all magnified by water reflections.
Six subdivisions border the lake with a total of 625 homes, 261 of them lakefront. 36 lakefront lots remain along with 39.5 undeveloped acres at the south end.
Holidays and weekends are special on the lake.
The Fourth of July celebration features one of the largest fireworks shows in the area, enhanced by water reflections and lake ambiance, as well as an abundance of food, drink and socializing.
Then there are boat parades, BBQ contests, decorating/lighting contests—and many spontaineous parties.
The lake—and the city of Lakeland—have a history that often surprises. The lake was created from farmland in 1959 as the central feature of Lakeland Amusement Park which operated from 1961 to 1978; the lake was named after the park's creator/promoter, Louis Garner.
Garner also spearheaded the incorporation of Lakeland, mostly to enable his plans to build a horsetrack with pari-mutuel betting. The track didn't work out—but the lake and city did.