Shallow lakes respond in different ways to changes in nutrient loading (nitrogen, phosphorus). These lakes may be in two different states: turbid, dominated by phytoplankton, and clear, dominated by submerged macrophytes. Both states are self-stabilizing; a shift from turbid to clear occurs at much lower nutrient loading than a shift in the opposite direction. These critical loading levels vary among lakes and are dependent on morphological, biological, and lake management factors. This paper focuses on the role of wetland zones. Several processes are important: transport and settling of suspended solids, denitrification, nutrient uptake by marsh vegetation (increasing nutrient retention), and improvement of habitat conditions for predatory fish. A conceptual model of a lake with surrounding reed marsh was made, including these relations. The lake-part of this model consists of an existing lake model named PCLake[1]. The relative area of lake and marsh can be varied. Model calculations revealed that nutrient concentrations are lowered by the presence of a marsh area, and that the critical loading level for a shift to clear water is increased. This happens only if the mixing rate of the lake and marsh water is adequate. In general, the relative marsh area should be quite large in order to have a substantial effect. Export of nutrients can be enhanced by harvesting of reed vegetation. Optimal predatory fish stock contributes to water quality improvement, but only if combined with favourable loading and physical conditions. Within limits, the presence of a wetland zone around lakes may thus increase the ability of lakes to cope with nutrients and enhance restoration. Validation of the conclusions in real lakes is recommended, a task hampered by the fact that, in the Netherlands, many wetland zones have disappeared in the past.