Guest Author - Sheri Ann Richerson
Landscape design surrounding a water feature is often not thought about until after the feature is installed. The addition of plants can help tie the water element to the existing site. Learning a few simple rules can help to make a difference in the final outcome. To do this, you must first understand the four basic elements of landscape design: unity, balance, variety and proportion.
Unity, or the way the plants will look together, is one aspect to consider. An easier way to think of unity is in terms of repetition and consistency. In landscape design repetition is often used as a key element to help create a cohesive look. Repetition can be created through the use of identical plants and matching surroundings. Creating consistency ensures that the different fundamentals of the design will come together to create the whole picture.
Balance is another factor that should not be overlooked. For these purposes, balance can be described in terms of symmetry or asymmetry. An example of symmetrical balance in a garden is when an area is split in half and both sides are identical to each other. Asymmetrical balance uses different forms, colors and textures on either side of the dividing line.
Variety is yet another fundamental to consider. The same plantings can be used to blend the landscape together; however, try experimenting with different varieties. The use of various leaf colors and shapes as well as an array flowers or shrubs will help to create a diversified look.
Finally, proportion should be well thought out. Look at the size of the plants today but think about what they will look like in a few months, or even a few years. Try planting groupings together that will grow at about the same rate and still look good in proportion to each other as well to as the overall design.
Another important aspect is cultural requirements; for instance, size, ideal conditions and growth rate. Do not plant a cactus and a canna together. One will thrive and one is sure to die, due to different watering needs. The exception is growing them in different pots.
Take the time to learn about the wind patterns around your water feature to give you an idea of the best place to plant flowering trees that may shed. If the water feature has not been built, take a close look at the existing area before making the decision where they will be placed.
Plants that can absorb or tolerate high amounts of water may work well planted in the ground near a pond. Some of these plants include canna, iris and daylilies.
A final thought to keep in mind when designing this area is the placement of pumps and electrical lines needed to keep your water feature running.
Landscaping around a water feature can be simple and a lot of fun--if you plan properly. These plantings can last for many years and bring aesthetic beauty that requires little maintenance.