Design considerations for wetland planting

Location, size and shape

In nature, wetlands and water bodies are always found in depressions or at the bottom of slopes. Accordingly man-made naturalistic ponds and wetland plantings and wet meadows should be placed at the lowest part of a park or garden site. If this is not possible, partial ground modelling or shrub plantings along the edge where the terrain is sloping down can conceal this unnatural impression. Partial shading by trees or tall shrubs is not problematic, as the accumulation of nutrients caused by leaves falling in autumn is largely overestimated (Figures 8.2 and 8.3). However, dense shade will reduce the possibilities for aquatic planting: traditional practices of pollarding or coppicing water-side trees periodically reduces intense shade. If the planted area of a pond or wetland planting is to be smaller than about 200 m2 and a good diversity of species is intended, the range of hydrophytes and helophytes should be selected carefully. Many species are very competitive and suppress less vigorous ones.

Artificial ponds can either be shaped in a formal or a naturalistic style, depending on the visual environment. Very conspicuous hybrids or cultivars, such as large flowered water lilies or variegated cultivars, are only suitable in formal situations (Figures 8.4 and 8.5). On the other hand, wild plants and natural-looking cultivars can look pleasing in both formal and informal situations.