Establishment of submerged macrophyte beds and application of chemical phosphorus inactivation are common lake restoration methods for reducing internal phosphorus loading. The two methods operate via different mechanisms and may potentially supplement each other, especially when internal phosphorous loading is continuously high. However, their combined effects have so far not been elucidated. Here, we investigated the combined impact of the submerged macrophyte Vallisneria denseserrulata and a lanthanum-modified bentonite (Phoslock®) on water quality in a 12-week mesocosm experiment. The combined treatment led to stronger improvement of water quality and a more pronounced reduction of porewater soluble reactive phosphorus than each of the two measures. In the combined treatment, total porewater soluble reactive phosphorus in the top 10 cm sediment layers decreased by 78% compared with the control group without Phoslock® and submerged macrophytes. Besides, in the upper 0–1 cm sediment layer, mobile phosphorus was transformed into recalcitrant forms (e.g. the proportion of HCl–P increased to 64%), while in the deeper layers, (hydr)oxides-bound phosphorus species increased 17–28%. Phoslock®, however, reduced the clonal growth of V. denseserrulata by 35% of biomass (dry weight) and 27% of plant density. Our study indicated that Phoslock® and submerged macrophytes may complement each other in the early stage of lake restoration following external nutrient loading reduction in eutrophic lakes, potentially accelerating the restoration process, especially in those lakes where the internal phosphorus loading is high.