Pond Landscape Ideas
Pond landscaping calls for elements that create beautiful reflected images.
Developing a landscape around a large pond can be relatively simple, involving the selection, siting and installation of groups of trees and shrubs. Pond projects can also be extremely complex and include rearranging topography, constructing hardscaping (walkways, walls and even bridges) and substantial planting. Designers and planners have to consider the ultimate use of the pond and its surroundings and how the pond fits into a larger landscape.
Using existing elements like mature trees, intact hardscaping and specimen shrubs can save time and money, so before adding new landscape elements, take a careful look at the site. A large, healthy tree, like dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides, hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10, can be a focal point of the new landscape. Removing old and sickly trees and shrubs or crumbling hardscaping will help give you a sense of what needs to be added to the area around the pond.
The plantings surrounding the pond will be reflected in the water in all seasons, so select graceful specimens like water loving weeping willow (Salix babylonica or Salix x sepulcralis), hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9, or river birch, a deciduous tree, hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, that features beautiful exfoliating bark. Willow-leaved magnolia (Magnolia salicifolia) has a handsome conical shape, leaves that are green on top and gray on the underside and fragrant white spring flowers. It is hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9.
Ponds are magnets for wildlife, so underplant tall trees with shrubs and communities of plants that provide food, nesting sites and cover for birds, small animals and insects. Choose at least a few fruiting shrubs like sweet viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum), an evergreen that is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10, and its relative Viburnum cinnamomifolium, which features blue fall fruits and is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9. Cattail (Typha latifolia), a clump forming plant with stiff, narrow leaves and characteristic brown “tails, ” can provide cover at the water’s edge. It is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 12.
One of the most famous historic pond landscapes was developed by painter Claude Monet at his home in Giverny, France. Colorful marginal plantings by the water’s edge played an important role around his water garden and can be incorporated – in clumps or swathes – in most pond landscapes. Plantings that add splashes of color include iris species, like Japanese iris (Iris japonica), hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9, and featuring colorful flowers in shades of purple and white. Moisture-loving astilbe (Astilbe x arendsii) sends up feathery plumes of white, pink, red or purple flowers in semi-shaded locations. It is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8 or 9.