The basics of water gardening

Plants provide a natural balance on the quality of the water. Plant eaters such as ducks and large carp make filtration essential for any sort of water clarity to be attained. Plants range from submerged oxygenators to emergent marginals with just their feet in the water.

Water Lily blooms float on the surface but their roots are firmly embedded in the bottom of the pond. Choice of lily variety will be dictated by the depth of water. The smallest variety needs only 15cms depth and the most vigorous water lilies can be planted in 1metre depth and over the years spread into even deeper water and are thus unsuitable for the average garden pond. 

Planting areas

Planting scheme for ponds and lakes
Planting scheme for ponds and lakes

A. Bog Plants

These plants grow in moist or damp soil but not covered with water.

See our Plants to Grow in a Bog Garden for suitable plants

B. Marginal Plants

These add greatly to the interest and completeness of a pool. They grow in shallow water or permanently damp soil as indicated. Most of these plants need about 5cm of water covering their pot, please pay particular attention to depth of water indicated in each case, pond design should include a shelf 20-25cm deep to accommodate them.

Take a look at our selection of Marginal Plants for Ponds.

C. Water Lilies,  Deep Water Plants &  Oxygenating Plants

At the pond centre a depth of 45-60cm will suit most Water Lilies, Deep Water Marginals and Oxygenators.

These are a “must” for a crystal clear pool. No pond can hope to have clear water until the “water weeds” are growing vigorously and in quantity. One dozen oxygenators are recommended for each 24 sq. ft. of pond surface area. It is far better to over-plant with oxygenators than underplant.

Aquatics thrive in sunlisght and waterlilies need full sunlight for at least half the day. An excess of autumn leaves can pollute the pond.

For further information see our Water lilies for sale, Deep Water & Submerged Pond Plants and Oxygenating Plants to Grow.

D. Floating Plants

These cut down the amount of light entering the surface of the water and can help to control “blanket weed” and “green water”.

See our Floating Plants for Your Pond.


Ponds can be made from preformed moulded plastics, flexible sheet liners, reinforced cement mortar and even concrete. Natural ponds can be dug into clay ground with variable success.

These are intended as planting instructions. “Depth” refers to depth of water above soil in which plant is planted.

Aquatic plants are usually planted in special mesh containers with gravel over the top of the compost.