Water Edge Garden Design Ideas

You live on an island or along the river, and your land is marshy or partially submerged part of the year. This should not prevent you from setting up a garden at the edge of the water! There are indeed, plants quite adapted to these specific areas, whose foliage or flowers will seduce you. Here’s how to go about it.

1. Favor vegetation adapted to interesting foliage for a water garden

The following plants do not flower or carry insignificant flowers. Their interest lies in their upright habit, their visual appearance, and their color, often lush green.

  • Water Ribbon ( Sparganium erectum ): useful for securing shorelines, it grows in swampy areas or shallow water, just at the edge of the land and water; it presents very green banded leaves, and in summer it bears white or yellow-brown flowers, rather insignificant; the water ribbon loves the sun but supports the semi-shade.
  • Euphorbia marsh ( Euphorbia palustris): it is a vivace of full sun, spectacular, living in wet zone or up to 5 cm in water; its upright tufts have long, narrow, fluorescent green leaves, becoming orange-yellow in autumn; in the spring, they have rather insignificant pale yellow inflorescences.
  • Japanese horsetail ( Equisetum japonicum or Equisetum hyemale ‘Japonicum’): this very graphic perennial lives in wet zone or up to 10 cm feet in the water, in the sun or partial shade; its tall, upright stems are interspersed with black rings at the joints.
  • Carex ( Carex riparian, Carex gracilis, Carex pseudocyperus with drooping green kittens …): These are mainly graphic grasses, which live in 0 to 10 cm of water; some sedges, tracers, such as Carex gracilis, are used to fix the banks; these plants appreciate the sun or the semi-shade.
  • Cattail ( Typha latifolia ): with its long narrow leaves, a decorative spike taking on the appearance of a fluffy brown cigar, it is the typical plant of the edges of the water; the reed hammer is like the sun, between 0 and 20 cm water.
  • Rush ( Juncus ): Rushes live in marshy areas or feet in water up to 10 cm deep, in the sun or partial shade.

2. Choose flowering plants

A garden at the edge of the water is remarkable first of all by its green color, very fresh throughout the year. But the touches of color brought by the flowers – mostly in the shades of pink, purple and yellow.

  • Water cinquefoil or Potentilla palustris ( Potentilla palustris ). This perennial shore plant, unusual for fixing the banks, lives in 0 to 5 cm of water, in the sun.
  • Swamp Myosotis (Myosotis palustris). This is a perennial with soft blue-sky flowers from June to September. Swamp Forget-me-nots are planted in groups of 0 to 10 cm of water in the sun or partial shade.
  • Aquatic Mint or Frog Mint ( Mentha aquatica ). Enjoying the sun or partial shade, it is cultivated in 0 to 20 cm of water and its crumpled leaves are fragrant. It also gives purple flowers, very melliferous, all summer.
  • Neglected Orchis ( Dactylorhiza praetermissa ). It is a beautiful plant, which carries from May to July ears of small pink or purplish flowers. She likes the sun or the semi-shade, in 0 to 5 cm of water.  It is forbidden to take neglected orchis in the wild. But neglected orchis is quite challenging to find in horticulturists.
  • Populace or water marigold (Caltha palustris). This is a plant of full sun, appreciating a marshy ground or a shallow depth of water (10 cm). It offers in spring yellow flowers reminding the golden buttons.
  • Iris of the banks ( Iris laevigata ). It gives blue or purple flowers; and it is one of the rare irises to bare feet in the water all year (up to 10 cm). It prefers the sun, but the semi-shade is also suitable for him.

3.Set up access points to easily reach the water’s edge

One of the pleasures of a garden at the edge of the water is to observe the aquatic life. For example: insects, birds, amphibians, fish…

To this end, arrange easy access to reach the pond, pond or river. You can install in different places:

  • large rustic slabs or Japanese steps, if the nature of the soil permits,
  • a wooden pontoon on stilts if the area is very swampy.

4.Respect the vulnerability of your garden at the edge of the water

A waterfront garden is particularly vulnerable to summer drought and pollution.

Watch for lack of water in summer

Plants on the edge of the water should never be dry, even in summer. Also, regularly monitor the banks, and do not hesitate to water them abundantly in case of drought.

Avoid polluting your garden at the edge of the water

Even more than for any other part of the garden, water edges are sensitive to chemical pollution. Avoid the use of products that may affect the aquatic fauna and also spread in the water uncontrollably. Thereby, causing damage to a distant environment.

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