The Ultimate Garden Feature – A Natural Pond

By Mary Ellen Ellis | August 6, 2021
Image by ManOnTheGo
by Mary Ellen Ellis
August 6, 2021

I have always loved water features in gardens. When I was younger, fountains really impressed me. I liked a formal garden back then. Now, I prefer more natural landscapes and dream of the day I have enough space for a pond and the time to create one.

The Perfect Pond

My dream is to retire to a house that has a little property. I would love to have a pond. I no longer get excited by the idea of an artificial water feature. I want a natural pond, whether that means creating one or building on an existing pond. 

I imagine a fairly large pond, ringed by reeds and cattails and stocked with native wetlands and pond plants. I hope that it will attract native wildlife too: frogs and toads, fish, birds, maybe even salamanders. 

Plants for a Natural Pond

If I have to build my own pond one day, assuming the property doesn’t come with one, I’ll be ready with my research on the best plants. They’ll be native species that create both a beautiful and a natural space for wildlife. Here are some of the plants I’m already considering for my future dream pond: 

  • Cardinal flower. For color around the edge, I’ll put in these bright red beauties. They can grow up to six feet (2 meters) tall. 
  • Virginia iris. Another pond-edge flower, this iris produces delicate, pale purple blooms. 
  • Great blue lobelia. These bright blue flowers look a little bit like bluebells and will add more color to the pond edge. 
  • Sedges. Native Michigan sedges act like grasses around the edge of a pond. I’ll add these to break up the flowers and provide habitat for critters. 
  • Pondweeds. There are several pondweeds native to Michigan”ā€¯curly-leaf, large-leaf, and fern, to name a few. These are submerged plants that help soak up nutrients, limit algae growth, and shade fish.
  • Cattails. An emergent plant, these grow in standing water at the edges of ponds. They provide habitat for red-winged black birds. 
  • Water lily. Native water lilies are great floating plants for natural ponds. They produce shade and cover for fish, resting places for frogs and small turtles, and pretty flowers. 

These are just some of the native plants I have on my list for my future pond. It’s a holy grail garden item for me, but one day I hope to have the pond to include these species. 

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