Creating a landscape around a large pond may be relatively easy, involving the selection, siting and installation of groups of trees and shrubs. Pond projects may 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 greatest use of this pond and its surroundings and the way the pond fits into a larger landscape.
Using existing elements such as mature trees, intact hardscaping and specimen shrubs can save yourself money and time, so before incorporating fresh landscape elements, have a careful look at the site. A large, healthy tree, such as dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides, sturdy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10, can be a focus of the new landscape. Removing ill and old trees and shrubs or crumbling hardscaping will help give you a sense of what has to be added to this area around the pond.
The plantings surrounding the pond is going to be reflected in the water in all seasons, so choose graceful specimens such as 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, which features beautiful exfoliating bark. Willow-leaved magnolia (Magnolia salicifolia) includes a fine conical shape, leaves which are green at the top and gray on the underside and fragrant white spring flowers. It’s hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9.
Ponds are magnets for wildlife, therefore underplant tall trees with shrubs and communities of plants which provide food, nesting sites and cover for birds, small mammals and animals. Pick at least a few fruiting shrubs such as sweet viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum), an evergreen that’s hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10, and its comparative Viburnum cinnamomifolium, that features blue drop fruits and can be hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9. Cattail (Typha latifolia), a clump forming plant with stiff, narrow leaves and feature brown “tails,” can provide cover at the water’s edge. It’s hardy in USDA zones 2 through 12.
Among the most well-known historical pond landscapes was developed by painter Claude Monet at his house in Giverny, France. Colorful marginal plantings from the water’s edge played an important role around his water garden and can be integrated — at clumps or swathes — at many pond landscapes. Plantings that add splashes of color include iris species, such as Japanese iris (Iris japonica), hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9, and featuring colorful flowers in hues of purple and white. Moisture-loving astilbe (Astilbe x arendsii) sends up feathery plumes of pink, white, purple or red flowers in semi-shaded places. It’s hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8 or 9.