Aquatic plants are an important component of the pond system, and their complete elimination can often lead to algal blooms, discoloration of the water by suspended sediments and greatly impaired fishing. Perhaps the best approach to managing aquatic plants is to encourage those species that add aesthetic and ecosystem value. This has sometimes been termed "lakescaping" or "aquascaping". Here we call it "pondscaping", conveying the idea that the edges of ponds respond positively to careful management just as do gardens and other plantings.


Example of pondscaping in East Marlborough Township. Terrestrial plantings are seen in the foreground, with aquatic plants at the pond edge.

The first step in pondscaping is to inspect the shoreline. Shallow, sloping margins are preferable to step edges for plant establishment, as even small differences in water level may determine the effectiveness of planting efforts. Plants will help stabilize the banks, so eroded sections of shoreline are a good place to start.

The next step is to become familiar with the types of plants available in the region. There are several nurseries with extensive selections of plants suitable for pondscaping, and garden centers often have limited selections as well.

In general, pondscaping should seek to provide a diverse assemblage of attractive flowering plants, shrubs and perhaps the occasional tree. Before selecting particular species, find out something about its biology of the species. What is the optimal season for planting? How deep or shallow will be its likely extent? Will the plants crowd out other plants? (Plants that are particularly hardy may also tend to take over the shoreline, causing headaches later.) What sorts of insects and other animals will be attracted to it?

Gardeners are used to these questions, and the general approach is really much the same. The plants themselves, however, are different, so it is important to do the necessary homework at the outset. Henderson's Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality is an excellent starting point in the planning process.

plants 4 sale

(Left) An ornamental variety of white water lily sharing space with native plants along the margin of a pond in East Nantmeal Township. (Right) Water hyacinth and Anacharis on sale at a local garden supply store.