Pond Edge Planting Suggestions

Rochester, MI

I just finished (actually filled the pond on 7/4/11) my new pond. It is a 32' x 20', roughly 6,500 gallon sodium bentonite clay-lined pond. The shallow end starts out at 0" and ends at 42" at the deep end. The edge around the pond extends about 18" from the clay liner and tapers down to about 10" on average over the clay liner throughout the rest of the pond (English: most of the pond has 10" of screened dirt over the clay, the edges have about 18"). With the clay liner on one side of it and the pond on the other, the edge of the pond will be saturated with pond water at all times (about 18"). Effectively, I have a 18" bog ribbon around the entire pond. I was hoping someone had some suggestions for a grass-like cascading plant that I can plant in this bog/edge area that would be fast growing as the #1 problem I'm having now is a lot of edge soil runoff during heavy rains. I'm worried about going into the fall/winter/spring with mostly bare dirt. It would also be nice to have plants with an extensive root system to shore up the edge of the pond.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

p.s. The pond was the end result of a project to combat a bad Japanese Knotweed problem. I put together a collection of photos (with photos of the edging before I filled the pond) of the whole project here: http://www.claypond.org


Thumbnail by keving98
(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Interesting project. What will the water source be other than the downspout? And how will you keep it from becoming scummy, e.g. filtration. Or maybe you aren't planning on fish. One heck of a lot of work by hand. I have screed my yard for rock and bark for several years and amended with potting mix, manure, peat moss, etc. Not the most fun part of gardening. I am sure you will get bunches of suggestions from those who have the kind of pond you have built with a bog area. I don't. Mine is all rock around.

Rochester, MI

Thanks mstella

I'm only using 3 out of the 4 zones of my sprinkling system so I thought I'd use the 4th zone to add a little bit of water from my well automatically every day during the dry months (July-August). I just want a wildlife pond with all native plants and animals minus the fish. The plan is to not use any filters, pumps, aerators, etc...we'll see. Getting plants in the water that will provide some filtration and oxygen is the second most important thing on my list right now. Erosion is #1. I'm also hoping there's enough of a balance between shade and sun to keep the scummy stuff manageable.


(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

that makes a big difference. I know that some of the ponders here have mentioned hosta, ferns, creeping jenny. Creeping Jenny spreads fast and can even be invasive -- a dirty word in your lexicon I would bet. but it is relative. I have water celery in my pond planted in pots around the edges. I ripped it all out last fall as it spread over the surface of the pond and I figured it would just die out over the winter. Much to my surprise some of the roots must have gotten down deep in the rock because it came back growing up out of the rock. I don't think it can ever become a nuisance as winter will naturally trim it back. but that is maybe more of a surfactant, not a marginal. You could take a look at www.texaswaterlilies.com. They sell pond plants including marginals and bog plants of all varieties. Very inexpensive and postage is really a deal. I order each year from them and the postage to here from Texas is unbelievably cheap.

If you are going to make it a wild life pond, won't the critters like deer tromp your plants down. Unless you do something like creeping thyme, wooly thyme -- something that can take foot traffic but not be enticing to eat. Smells good though. It probably likes a dryer environment though. But the creeping thyme spreads fast. I will post a picture. It even has small flowers for a while.

Thumbnail by Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

these sound like they would do well in your surrounds and really be pretty, at least for part of the edging:

Black Gamecock Louisiana Iris $5.00
Hardy zones 5-11. Grows well in moist soil to 6" of water. Height when matured 2 to 3 feet. Has long slender dark green leaves. Blooms a purple flower. Good for any bog, container garden or whatever your needs are. It"s the all around purpose plant and one of the most favorites to all watergardeners. Grows well in partial shade in the hotter climates. Full sun for cooler climates.

Sweet Flag $5.00
Acorus calamus Hardy to 4-11. Grows in moist soil to 6 inches of water. Likes full sun to part shade. Leaves reach heights of 36 inches tall. Sweet flag release a sweet fruity fragrance when bruised or crushed. They are native to North America.

Cardinal Flower $5.00
Lobelia cardinalis Hardy to zones 5-11. Grows in moist soil to 3inches of water in sun to part shade. Plant has bright red flowers that bloom in July to September. It grows up to 3ft tall. Native to North America.

I know that you are looking for something that will spread fast to hold the banks around the pond from erosion but you don't have much time for that. When do you figure freeze up comes where you are?

Rochester, MI

Thanks mstella.

According to a couple of web sites, my area has a 50% chance of seeing frost by October 15th.

I was really worried about the deer trashing the edge of the pond but I have not seen one deer print anywhere near the pond. I know having things to munch on will be a different story. Even though I was so worried about the deer I didn't even consider plants with them in mind. Thanks for the heads up! I'm going to look into those plants you mentioned tonight.
Those Thymus Golden's are very nice.

As for invasive things, I've had enough to last me a lifetime.

Thanks again.


Dallas, OR(Zone 8a)

I found this web site that may give you some MI native choices of many types of plants suitable for neck of the woods.

Your project just amazed me as I just finished a pond but we had the help of a Bobcat for the digging & boulder positioning !! Very impressiveII I did notice that you collected a lot of stones during your excavation. I would re-purpose those around the edge of the pond with the plants. They will help give the edge more stability & they look pretty. Please keep posting pictures as the planting progresses.

Great job!

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Kevin?, I don't know if you have been following the thread "The Fun Begins!" but it chronicles BeaHive's new pond at her new home. Really interesting and fun to watch. I think we had representatives from all over the US and one from Australia watching it being built. Great fun indeed. I sort of just wince when I look at what you went through by hand. I bet you have biceps that won't quit by now!! lol

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

If anybody deserves a nice pond you sure do. Thank God we don't have that knotweed in Fl. We do have quite a few exotics but not with that root system. Thats awful.
Your pond is beautiful and once you plant erosion control plants around it you will enjoy it I'm sure. Can't make any suggestions for plants for your climate but I'm sure there are some.
Maybe check with your county extension office. Good luck, Bonnie

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

I have two water areas in my yard. One is a 5000 gallon pond with koi and the other is a small bog area that I have planted with various plants that my koi tend to eat - it's my replacement program. One plant in there that I quite enjoy is lotus plants. They grow tall and flower but need full sun. I would recommend a plant site with very reasonable prices and very high quality plants. Texas Water lillies. They are a vendor on this site and there have been co-ops in the spring to get even better pricing. One strong concern I have for your bog is mosquitoes. I have to keep an eye on my because they breed fast and furious in it. I drop in these mosquito pellet things but they don't work all that well. If the mosquitos get really bad I have to flood my bog to make it overflow to get rid of them. Hardly a solution for you. Also, the bog can get smelly even with plants (again I overfill my to get the water freshened up). An aerator might be something for you to consider to counteract those problems.

The website that BeaHive gave you above is an excellent resource. It maps out what plants do well in specific environments. Also, talk with your local co-op extension office as they might be able to give you more specific plants that grow in your immediate area.

Otherwise, prairie grass (in seed form) or a specific wet lands seed mix would work well for what you are looking to accomplish. You typically do not need to mow these grasses (not mowing helps with water displacement and stabilizing the bank). You can go back later and install small pockets of perennials (like Joe-Pye Weed) around the border.

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