In contemporary settings, water is often used for its reflective properties and movement, rather than as a place to grow plants. However, several water plants compliment a modern, architectural style.
The round leaves of water lilies emphasize the squareness of this formal pool, while the dramatic foliage of calla lilies adds some exuberance and links the pool with the surrounding planting.
A clean and unfussy look is important for a modern water feature, so limit the variety of plants and use those with strong shapes.
The horsetail, simultaneously primitive-looking and elegant, is invasive on land, but contained in a pond planter.
If space is limited, a small fountain, bubbling millstone or half-barrel or trough filled with water and aquatic plants can be a good option. Place your feature by a seat or close to the house where it will be visible from the window.
When planting a miniature pool, take care to avoid vigorous plants and rely on small, compact plants like pygmy waterlilies.
Combine deep and shallow water to allow for a wide variety of plants; if you have room, a small waterfall provides ideal moisture for growing ferns and mosses at the pond edge.
Here's another reason to plant a variety of aquatic species at different depths: you can attract dragonflies, aquatic insects and frogs at the surface, and keep fish below. Creating a lively splash zone is a great way to get kids interested in the garden.
Planning Ahead and Choosing Plants
Plan your waterside plantings exactly as you would your garden border, taking height, color and seasonal interest into account. Choose a mixture from the four main groups of water plants: oxygenators to keep the water clear; aquatic plants that grow in the water; and marginals and bog plants to soften the edge.
Making planting ledges and boggy ground part of the initial design of a pond allows you to grow plants with different depth requirements.
Bog plants thrive in moist or wet soil. There is a wide range available, including some of the most colorful waterside plants: several irises, primulas, loosestrifes and the evergreen creeping Jenny.
Growing in a few inches of water at the edge, marginals soften the line between water and land. As well as colorful or interesting flowers (lizard's tail, lesser snapdragon), many have dramatic foliage (arrowheads, pickerelweed).
These deep-water plants root on the bottom of the pond, 20 inches or more beneath the surface. There are relatively few plants in this group, but it does include water lilies, which grow in water up to 48 inches deep.
An essential element in a pond, oxygenators provide oxygen and absorb the nutrients otherwise used by algae. Some, like common water-crowfoots, flower above the water surface.