First, Dimmock says the pond must be oxygenated. Oxygenators are critical to the survival of the pond's flora. They float on top of the water. Though ugly, they prevent the pond from getting stagnant and murky.
Dimmock uses marginal plants on planting shelves around the edge of a pond. She says they add three dimensions to the garden because they add height and soften the line between the pond and the soil. They have soil at their base but they also have an inch of gravel sitting on top so that the soil doesn't seep out and create too much sediment in the pond.
While marginal plants will survive a solid pot, they are happiest sitting in around four inches of water. Before popping them into the water, water or soak them with a hose - if they go straight into the pond dry at the base, they can develop air pockets and the moisture may not find the roots.
For a small pond, choose marginal compact plants like the following:
- Equisetum hyemale (Horsetail reedgrass)
The tall, thick tubular leaves with black horizontal stripes makes the plant look like a bamboo. It is grows slowly and looks fabulous.
- Cyperus alternifolius.
These are like palm tree tops on pale green stalks. Plant 2 or 3 of them. They can also be used as a houseplant.
- Imperial Taro (Colocasia antiquarium)
These are shallow water plants with large, heart-shaped, textured leaves in violet black splotchs and on thick stalks. They need four hours of sun a day.
- Bluebells (Ruellia Brittoniana)
The Mexican petunia raises up a tall stalk with dark green, lance-shaped leaves and dark stems. The plant is vertical. As weather becomes hot, bright purple, tubular flowers appear. It can be grown in USDA Zones 8-10.
- Water Lilies
With their large leaves floating on the top of the pond, they cut the sunlight out and prevent the water from becoming too green.
The Perry's Fire Opal (hardy water lilies) are great to look at for the pond. This water lily grows 12 to 24 inches and does not need to be removed over the winter. But don't let the fountain or the water feature get so close that the leaves get splashed, because the lily will not flower. Once it has been established for over a year, it will flower plentifully.
The tropical water lilies will have to be removed over the winter and spend the months in a plastic bag in a warm space waiting for spring.
Fish are also critical for the pond ecosystem.They eat the larvae of insects which may be floating on the top of the water. In turn, their fish poo feeds the plants growing in the water, which the fish will nibble on. The fish should not be too large because they will destroy the plants in the water.