Shady pond

Ponds in shady gardens

Get the best from a pond in a shady garden with the help of our practical tips.

A pond is a great asset to any garden, making a dynamic focal point and attracting all kinds of wildlife.

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It’s generally advisable to build a pond in a sunny spot. You can, however, site a pond in an area that is in shade for part of the day, or sits in dappled shade. It’s not a good idea to put a pond in a very shady area, as it will become stagnant – the plants that supply oxygen to the water will need some sunlight.

While it may restrict your planting palette – you won’t be able to plant waterlilies, as in shade they will produce foliage at the expense of flowers, shading the pond still further – there are still lots of suitable plants to choose from. In a pond that is partly shaded, algae won’t be so much of a problem. 

Follow our five tips to keep shady ponds in tip-top condition.

There are some advantages to having some shade over a pond, as it restricts the growth of algae.

Reduce surrounding trees or shrubs

If you want to make a pond in a shady garden, aim to put it in a spot where the sun shines on it for at least half the day. If the site is surrounded by trees or large shrubs, open up the area on the south side to let in more light, by coppicing them or removing altogether.

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Grow shade-loving plants

Aquatic plants that can cope with some shade include isolepsis, water hyacinth, water lettuce, water forget-me-not, marsh marigold and water mint. Aponogeton distachyos is a good alternative to a water lily. Good oxgenators include anacharis and curly pondweed.

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Remove fallen leaves

If trees and shrubs overshadow your pond, their fallen leaves can accumulate in the water, where they decompose and produce an excess of nutrients. This can lead to dull, cloudy water and the growth of unsightly algae, such as blanketweed. To keep the water clear, regularly scoop out any fallen leaves from your pond.

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Top up with rainwater

Top up your pond with rainwater from a water butt, rather than tap water, as it’s better for pond plants and pond life. Check the pH of the water each spring. It should be around neutral, but runoff from nearby concrete can make it too alkaline, while peat can make it too acidic.

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Consider a water feature

If you only have a very shady spot in which to place your pond, why not consider a small water feature instead? It won’t attract any wildlife but it will provide an attractive focal point, as well as a relaxing sound if you add a pump. Be sure to clean out and replace the water regularly.

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