The nutrient rich mud around the perimeter of lakes and ponds makes a superior growing environment for plant life. The area around the water also provides maximum sunlight for the plants. A diverse range of wildflowers, shrubs, trees and grasses readily spring up. The abundant plant life provides shelter, nesting areas, security and food for wildlife, amphibians, birds and reptiles.
The landscape around lakes can look quite distinct; often rolling grassland dominates with areas of rocky slopes. In regions with extreme rocks, the plants must exist on remarkably little sediment. Ponds usually have a subtle slope which enables more abundant plant life to grow around the edges. Along the boggy shoreline and up into the muddy, nutrient rich perimeter of both lakes and ponds, cattails (Typha spp.) and bulrushes (Scirpus spp.) often dominate. The plant's dense root system helps control soil erosion by anchoring the surrounding sediments.
Landscape plant choices must have the ability to succeed with extremely little maintenance. The use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides pose a significant risk to the ecosystem of both a pond or lake. Aquatic life, reptiles, amphibians and some birds may suffer harm from the use of such substances. When landscaping the area, the homeowner must choose hardy plants that have the ability to tolerate a wet root system if flooding should occur. The red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) offers benefits for both lakes and ponds. The shrub's root system stabilises the shoreline. It offers refuge to birds and wildlife. The bush also produces bright red berry clusters which make perfect forage for both birds and mammals. The flowers attract insects and butterflies.
Trees and Shrubs
Trees and large shrubs around a lake or pond must tolerate a wet root system. They benefit the ecosystem by providing shade and cover. The hazelnut (Corylus Americana) grows as a large shrub or multi-stemmed tree to a height of 15 feet with a width of 15 feet. It has the ability to tolerate wet or dry soil which makes it ideal around a lake or pond that suffers from seasonal receding water levels. It grows well in full or partial sun. It produces tasty nuts that wildlife adore. The evergreen western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) grows to a height of 60 feet. Deer, elk, rabbits and other wildlife enjoy browsing on it. The tree, widely used as a riparian buffer, tolerates shade or full sunlight.
Ground cover and shrubs growing around lakes and ponds offer many benefits. The highly adaptable sword fern (Polystichum munitum) grows beneath the shade of shore line plants well. An evergreen, it grows as a clump that can stand up to 3 feet in height. Pond and lake amphibians like clustering around the decaying fronds at the base of the plant. Salal (Gaultheria shallon) forms a dense thicket rapidly. It grows well along erosive banks and works as a stabiliser. Its berries provide a valuable-food source for mammals and birds. The beaver especially relishes the plant.
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Pond
- University of California Museum of Paleontology: The Freshwater Biome
- Hamilton Naturlists Club: Lake Plants & Animals
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Red Elderberry
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Hazelnut (Corylus Americana)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Western Hemlock