Formal Ponds

The elegance of formal ponds, can only be enhanced if they complement the surrounding landscape. Formal ponds suit more traditional European styled gardens, but contemporary and modern home designs can also benefit from this style. They may be raised or set into the ground and can be of any size to suit small courtyard gardens or those set into the lawns in beautiful country estates. Formal ponds on patios are great features to relax beside and help to create an inviting setting.

The key to designing formal ponds.

They can be circular or square or a combination of any other geometric shapes. Formal ponds tend to be designed with clean lines and symmetry in mind. The whole strategy in designing formal ponds is to keep it elegant and simple. Understand what you are trying to achieve and where the focus lies.

Fountains and waterfalls

Fountains and waterfalls are often a feature of formal ponds and help to create a mood of peace and tranquillity or a distraction from the outside world. The sound of water splashing can have a very powerful influence on how we feel. Pump sizing and water flow are critical in the design of a great water feature. Understanding the purpose of the sound is an important component of the design. A soft babbling splash can be very calming, while a larger flow of water from a greater height, draws attention and can distract. Be aware that in a smaller confined space, such as a courtyard, the sound of the water is significantly amplified. If you seek a quite place to relax and read, then a much softer sound is required.

Reflective formal ponds

Still water features can provide wonderful reflective qualities, while statues and sculptural artwork can be placed as centre pieces or be set back as a focal point. Some reflective ponds can simply create interest through reflecting the sky above or the surrounding landscape.

Pond plants

Water plants are generally not the main feature of formal ponds. The selection of plant varieties are kept to a minimum, so as not to over power or distract from the design. A lush botanical look with an abundance of plants is rarely a part the design style.

Plant colour

Colour selections and colour combinations should also be kept to a minimum. Generally the classic whites or softer colours. However, that is not to say that you cannot add a touch of flair by adding a contrast to the surrounding landscape.

Water lilies

Waterlilies are the classic plants for formal ponds. They should be placed at specific points to maintain symmetry, rather than placed in random clusters. However you need to be aware that water lilies are not suitable plants for under fountains. They do not like to have their leaves constantly splashed upon, as the upper leaf surface is where they breathe from.

The importance of submerged water plants.

Submerged water plants are plants that grow with their leaves below the water. This very feature makes them ideal for formal ponds because they do not distract from the design of the water feature.

Their real benefits are that they

  • Assist with improving the pond health,
  • Help clarify the water,
  • Filter the nutrients and reduce algal blooms,
  • Provide shelter for fish
  • Help to camouflage underwater wiring and plumbing.


  1. Click on the following link to view water lilies that are available from Oz Watergardens.
  2. Click on the following link for more information on submerged water plants
  3. For information on the plant care and maintenance of water plants, go to our Tips & Hints page.

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Acorus gramineus

Acorus gramineus Variegatus

Alocasia macrorrhiza

Baloskion tetraphyllum

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Colocasia esculenta Amazon Queen

Colocasia esculenta Black Magic

Cyperus alternifolius

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Hibiscus coccinea

Isolepis nodosa (syn Ficinia nodosa)

Juncus amabilis

Juncus decipiens Curly Wurly

Juncus effusus Spiralis

Leperonia articulata

Nelumbo nucifera

Nymphaea Assorted

Pontederia cordata

Pontederia cordata Alba

Rhyncospora colorata

Schoenoplectus lacustris Albescens

Schoenoplectus lacustris Zebrinus

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