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Tuesday - December 16, 2008

From: Hawthorn Woods, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Screening plants for edge of pond in Illinois
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a backyard pond that I am restoring, adding aeration, plants, etc. Unfortunately, there is a farmer that stores old equipment on the shore of my pond and refuses to move it. It is an eyesore. Are there any perennial plants (Zone 5) that will grow tall in water and screen out some of this? I don't want it to overrun the pond though. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.


When you say the unwelcome equipment is at the shore of your pond, how close is that? Is the edge of your pond on your property and the farm equipment on his? There are plants that will grow in water in Zone 5, native to Illinois, that will provide some screening, and we will list them for you. There are also Illinois native trees and shrubs that don't grow IN water, but can grow in soggy soil at the edge of ponds or rivers, and would provide better screening still, but they would need some ground, maybe ten feet or so between the edge of your pond and the equipment. Unfortunately, none of these are evergreen, but at least they will help. To begin with the water plants:

Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail) This perennial grows from 4 to 8 feet tall, with creeping rootstocks that form dense stands in shallow water, so it might be advisable to plant it in a large container underwater to prevent the pond being taken over by cattails.

Equisetum hyemale (scouringrush horsetail) Perennial growing in wet places, pond margins, swamps, to 3 feet tall.

For the area beyond the pond, if there is room, you could consider some willows, members of the Salix genus. Willows are fast-growing, but can be weak and susceptible to disease. They should be trimmed back vigorously every few years to encourage stronger growth. Perhaps by the time they need to be replaced or removed, the farm equipment will have rusted away. 

Salix caroliniana (coastal plain willow) Grows in wet soils of stream banks or swamps.

Salix discolor (pussy willow) Many-stemmed shrub or small tree, marshy low ground, stream banks.

Salix humilis (prairie willow) Alluvial or boggy areas, 6 to 12 feet tall.

And some plants that will do well in soggy ground, and provide even more screening.

Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass) Rigid, upright perennial that grows well in low, wet areas, marshes. 

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) Found in swamps and around ponds and margins of streams.

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) Adapted to moist habitats, provides some height and interest. 

Follow each plant link to a webpage on that plant, and go down to the bottom of the page and use the link to Google to get more information. These plants should all be commercially available. If you don't find them readily available in your area, go to our Native Plant Suppliers, type your town and state into the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area. 

Typha latifolia

Equisetum hyemale

Salix caroliniana

Salix discolor

Salix humilis

Spartina pectinata

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Taxodium distichum





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