Certain considerations will pay off handsomely. Here is a list
of suggestions in planning the landscape to accompany your pond:
1. NOT FLAT: use berms, graduating levels, retaining walls,
rocks to plan a natural looking pond. A pond does not look natural
no matter how lovely it is, if it doesn't look like it belongs in
the yard. Japanese gardens are planted on many levels to "keep
the spirits" away from the house. It is believed that spirits
can't climb and will only use flat ground.
2. SIZE: Use proportionately sized plants for your yard.
Most suburban homes are small lots with a house and probably a garage.
To make your space look bigger, use dwarf and slow-growing plants.
Plants which grow horizontally instead of vertically will also make
the space appear larger. Some of these could be the miniature evergreens,
dwarf daylilies, low-growing shrubbery such as Bar Harbor juniper
and certain cotoneaster varieties. Moss adds color and interest.
Smaller varieties of fern fit nicely. Conifers such as mugho pine
do much better than white pine in limited space. Even in larger
properties, small plants add so much more opportunity with less
3. YEAR-ROUND INTEREST: when trees, shrubs are bare, rocks,
dried grasses and statuary will enhance the fall/winter scenery.
Certain small trees and shrubs are notable for their decorative
bark, such as Red-Twig Dogwood. White birch is slow-growing and
decorative in winter (and a favorite of mine.) Other pines, spruces
and evergreens will make a pleasing statement. If you have the room,
look into larger specimen trees and shrubs.
4. NATIVE PLANTS: Moss, fern, sedum and buttercup (a first-class
weed in most places) do very well and look more natural. Rather
than the hybridized plants, check with the local Cornell Cooperative
Extension for local plants which are hardier than imports. In my
yard, I have incorporated the small-leaf holly with mugho pine,
dwarf Japanese Barbary, and dwarf daylilies. All grow with gusto
but remain small in stature. I believe every garden would benefit
from the lovely 4-6" Liriope (lily turf) which does well in
either sun or shade. One of the show-stoppers in my garden is the
mounding buttercups (ranunculus). This is a plant my father spent
many days fighting to rid the area of and one I couldn't wait to
5. SPRING PLANTING: to have a really nice reception in spring
following a long winter, under plant with naturalizing bulbs, such
as narcissis and species tulips. Other naturalizing bulbs include
Spanish or English bluebells, early snowdrops which come in single
flowering or double, and the myriad of crocus species. The greenery
which lasts into the summer can be hidden by ferns, Siberian Iris,
and hosta varieties. Once they begin to fade, remove the above ground
6. COLORS: companion planting makes the difference between
a nice garden and a beautiful garden. Plants with spiked leaves,
such as variegated yucca, go wonderfully with spreading juniper,
gold rush juniper or sedum and even looks great planted with coleus
varieties for a dash of color. Think about the colors, muted with
dazzling, and shapes, spiked with soft, and take note of what really
strikes you in someone else's garden because it is probably not
going to look as nice in yours unless you plant it with the companion
plants shown. Plant grey-leaved plants with soft mauve flowers for
a calming effect.
WATER PLANTS: to bridge the gap between the surrounding garden
and the pond, use bog and water-loving plants. Water lilies do nicely
to shade the pond and expand the garden area. This also serves to
make the pond "part of" the garden rather than something
stuck in as an afterthought. In the warm seasons the floating plants
can easily take-over. It is best to have at least 1/3 of the pond
surface uncluttered by plants. If you have koi in your pond, plants
probably won't ever live long enough to take over. My experience
with the ever-favorite Iris Pseudocorus is that it doesn't belong
in a pond. It does very well in dirt and won't grow to gargantuan
proportions in a single season, which is generally the case inside
the pond. Outside the pond, the foliage doesn't overwhelm the small
yellow flowers. I personally prefer striking foliage to pleasing
flowers, so the water lilies have mottled or bronze-colored leaves.
When seeking proportional-sized plants, steer clear of the larger
water lilies and lotus (yes, there are dwarf varieties of both)
unless you have lots of room. I also suggest bog gardens which are
not located inside the pond. They can be installed a few inches
above the water surface where the water enters from the filter return
and flows over the edge and back into the pond. This keeps koi out
of the plants and in the pond where they belong. Fish swimming in
shallow areas such as a bog are much more vulnerable to predators
and predatory insects. Water celery works wonderfully in a raised
bog and will overflow the edge to soften the look of the pond. The
fish will keep it trimmed for you.
- Carolyn Weise
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