A good place to begin is my above-ground bog garden project for the basics of creating a pond garden, using a rigid pond form. You can also use pond liners. Marginal plants listed on the Bog Garden page, may be used to decorate around your water garden, or placed in pots and placed inside your pond. Make it any size you like. I like small water features scattered around the landscape. 
Here are a few small, and easy water features i've done.

A water garden will be all water and water plants, no soil added to the water. You'll also need something to filter your water, and you will need to keep it clean of bugs and algae. Bog gardens can be planted in a rigid pond form, or right in the soggy ground. I add pea gravel on top as ornamentation and to help disperse the water.

I'm planning on "planting" an old clawfoot tub as my next landscape project.

If you're digging a spot for an in-ground bog or pond, consider the next thing you need if you're not using a pre-formed pond liner.... before buying a liner, be certain to take the depth of the pond into consideration. The pond liner also needs cover the sloping sides that drop from the top. Add those measurements to your pond liner size.

Water gardens in containers are easy to build. Lots of gardeners like to use half-barrels as water gardens. Using a real wine barrel cut in half, or a similar-sized container made from galvanized steel or enamelware, a water garden can be completed in an afternoon. Any large tub or basin will add something special to your little pond. Solar fountains used in birdbaths may be used to add a bubbly effect that's very soothing. It just floats around. Some have battery backup, so that you can have your bubbles with or without sunshine, once the sun charges it. 

You can create your water garden above or in-ground. I prefer above ground. If i decide to change my landscape, i can just empty and move it. Digging big holes is not a chore i am fond of. And I do tend to change my mind every few seasons. And my dog, Karma, would be in it in a heartbeat. But in-ground is very lovely. Be sure you locate it where a hose can reach, as you;ll need to fill or refill it.

Another important consideration is sun exposure. To grow healthy aquatic plants, you'll need adequate sun exposure. Most aquatic plants require four to six hours of sunlight per day to ensure healthy growth. My design included sun and partial shade areas. Consider the slope of the area in which you wish to house your aquatic garden, in order to avoid rainwater runoff. If the pond is located in a low-lying area,  fertilizers and other chemicals could wash into the pond and harm the plants.

Aquatic plants, like water lilies, prevent algae build-up. These plants will absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the water. Their long roots soak up other excess nutrients in the water, cleansing it.

There are annual and perennial pond plants. Perennial plants go dormant beneath the snow, and in the spring, they come back. The annuals will have to be planted every year. I always opt for perennials. Check the USDA Hardiness Zone Map for hardy plants you'll be growing in your area.

Here's a partial list of aquatic plants hardy to zone 5

Hardy Water Lilies

Flower colors are wide-ranging. There's white, peach, rose and reds, and some hybrids are fragrant.  There are also "changeables" that display a range of changing colors, often opening light yellow and maturing to orange.  These are several water lilies that will survive winters in Zone 3.

American Lotus

This flower is a beautiful symbol of serenity and peace, and it can be found in many natural ponds and lakes. Lots of new hybrids are hardy to  Zone 4.

Water Iris

I have several of the purple variety. Yellow Flag Iris  is a a plant with tall, sword-shaped green leaves. Hardy in every Zone. It might be invasive if not contained.

Horsetail and other Rushes

This is a hardy, upright grower for pond or bog margins or surrounding containers.  I use it in the gardens, and submerged  in soil  bags. Hardy to Zone 3.

There are several variety of rushes that can be used in and around a pond or water feature. I also have Blue Rush, which is a blue-green color. I use them to add height and texture to my landscape designs. These look great in the garden in soil with other delicate and mounding ornamental garden grasses, such as Elijah Blue Fescue. Read labels, as not all rushes are cold-hardy.

Lizard's Tail

Compact, upright growth that can grow very tall. In summer, it has white, spiky blooms. Most of the plant should be underwater because it's quite tall. It looks beautiful in natural areas around water. Hardy to Zone 4.

Arrowhead Plant

Tall with a delicate appearance, t gets occasional white flowers. I consider it invasive, so I keep it in containers.. Hardy to Zone 4.


Hardy to  Zone 4.  Upright foliage and lavender blooms in summer.

Water mint

The mint-scented perennial is good for the bog gardens, around a  pond, or areas with poor drainage, in a Rain Garden.  It can become invasive, so planted in its own container in the water gardens is a good idea. Cut the bottom out of a planter, plant the mint, and plant the whole pot with mint in the water garden. I wouldn't let it grow without containing it. It's as invasive as all mints. So keep it contained.

Marsh Marigold

A cousin of the buttercup. It's seen growing wild by rivers and streams. Covered with yellow flowers very early in spring. A native plant that is easy to grow in the garden. It likes wet areas near ponds, bogs and Rain Gardens, and good for under rain gutters. Hardy to Zone 4.

All aquatic plants can become aggressive if they are not potted, so be careful how you plant in wooded, landscaped or natural settings. There are woven Smartpots that can be used as soft planters that allow water to flow through the bags, but not  spill out dirt. Fill them with soil, plant the plants, add more dirt to pack it, and place into your pond. Add a weight at first so that it absorbs all the water it can hold, sits on the floor of your pond and doesn't float away upside down. Been there. I usually insert a rock to weight it down.

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If you are planning an Aquatic Garden or Pond, I have a 
few reading and aquatic gardening suggestions listed below

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