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The Best Plants to Use in Swim Ponds

Many people are torn when trying to decide between a natural, peaceful water feature and a pool that can be used for fun, exercise, and entertaining guests. If you are looking for a water feature that provides a relaxing, life-giving environment but you do not want to sacrifice summer fun and pool parties, a natural swimming pond is the water feature for you. These natural pools cultivate plants and beneficial bacteria to keep the water crystal clean without the use of chemicals. At Fontana Landscapes, we know the best plants to use in swim ponds to ensure that your pond stays clean and healthy.

Plant Life in Natural Swim Ponds

Natural swimming ponds can provide endless hours of entertainment for friends and families and their peaceful, living nature can be enjoyed in any season. Unlike regular pools, swim pond maintenance does not require a chemistry kit and contact with irritating chemicals. In order to be maintained, swim ponds require the implementation of a variety of water-cleaning plants that regulate minerals and microorganisms. Swim pond plant life is often similar to that found in a pond or bog in nature, but these plants are quarantined to protect them and create an open swimming area.

Types of Plants for Natural Swim Ponds

When selecting plants for your natural swim pond plant shelf, it is important to consider a couple of variables. Know the depth of your shelf and ensure that none of the plants are going to be drowned. Make sure that the plant shelf is graded properly so that the shallow-water plants have the proper amount of access to dry land and the deep-water plants have enough shade and insulation from extreme temperatures. Ensure that the pump keeps water flowing through the plant shelf in order to prevent stagnation.

Some of the best types of plants for a swim pond filter system include:

Tall Structural Plants

These plants are typically planted around the outskirts of the plant shelf, particularly in shallower water. Structural swim pond plants often include:

  • Flag iris
  • Sweet gallingale
  • Rushes (flowering or otherwise)
  • Reedmace or bulrush
  • Yerba mansa
  • Water plantain
  • Loosestrife
  • Pickerel weed
  • Marigold
  • Pond sedge
  • Other assorted irises

Pond Surface Plants

Also known as rafting plants, swim pond surface plants take root and then grow across the water’s surface, meaning that they require some maintenance to keep contained. Some examples of pond surface plants are:

  • Water forget-me-not
  • Variegated water dropwort
  • Water mint
  • Brooklime

Deep Water Plants and Oxygenators

Deep water plants are any plants that can survive with very little or no surface contact, and oxygenators live completely beneath the surface of the water. Deep water plants produce an attractive surface look and often weave into one another to give a plant shelf structure. The most common deep water plants for swim ponds are water hawthorn and every variety of waterlily.

Oxygenators can be planted outside of the natural swim pond’s plant shelf to line the pond. Oxygenators require minimal maintenance and must occasionally be thinned out to clean out old stems. Examples of oxygenators for swim ponds include:

  • Curled pondweed
  • Hornwort
  • Spiked milfoil

To learn more about the best plants to use in swim ponds, or to find out about any of the landscape or water feature services that we offer, please contact Fontana Landscapes at 778-990-9773 or fill out a contact form on our website.


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