There are a number of benefits to strategically planting along the banks and shorelines of ponds. Pond planting and shoreline buffers:
* Prevent soil erosion,
* Improve water quality,
* Reduce invasive species of aquatic weeds,
* Support local wildlife,
* And typically increase property value.
There are four zones along the shoreline of a pond (or lake) to keep in mind as each zone has distinct differences that influence the types of plants that grow well in that zone. Choosing the wrong plants for a particular zone can actually cause more harm than benefit.
Zone 1: Littoral Zone – This zone includes the area where the soil is far enough below the surface to keep any plant life mostly or completely submerged, yet still allows enough sunlight through the water for some species of plants to thrive. Plants in this submerged area should be monitored carefully as they can easily grow out of control resulting in fish kill zones. Good plants to choose for this zone are Coontail and Tape-grass.
Zone 2: Emergent Zone – This zone includes the area right along the shoreline just below the water line but not as deep as the Littoral Zone. In this zone, the roots of plants are submerged but the upper parts of the plants emerge from the water vertically in a half in-half out way. Good plants to choose for the Emergent Zone include Arrowheads, White Star Sedge, Lizard’s Tail, Alligator Flag and Pickerelweed.
Zone 3: Riparian Zone – The Riparian Zone is just above the waterline where the soil is consistently saturated at nearly all times. Plants that do well in this zone include: Spider Lily, Bog Lily, Louisiana Iris, Swamp Sunflower, River Oats, Mallow Hibiscus, Bulrush and Soft Rush.
Zone 4: Upland Zone – The Upland Zone is the area where the ground slopes down to meet the Riparian Zone. Depending on the degree of slant of the soil in this zone, this zone tends to be much drier than the other three zones as gravity pulls water down the slope toward the pond. There are a few different categories of plants that are idea for this zone. One category is perennials, and may include Coneflower, Verbena, Goldenrod, Blazing Star, False Indigo, Lavender, Daylily and Bearded Iris. A second category is grasses, often including Switchgrass, Indian Grass, Big Bluestem Grass and Weeping Love Grass.
Planting the right types of plants in the right zones ensures optimum benefit from pond planting efforts. One type of plant that is generally not recommended in South Carolina, particularly along the coast, are shrubs and trees. Even in the Upland Zone, the soil content coupled with the strength and frequency of major storms make it difficult for strong enough root systems to become established enough to help protect the shoreline of your pond.