pond shelf depths

It is the weather for planning this year’s new pond – plan the pond’s shelf depths carefully.


1. how to build a pond to suit the plants you want.

2. what makes water plants different to other plants you grow.

A pond is best constructed with a choice of depths of water – each depth has plants that suit it.

  • Shelf 3 Suitable for shelf depth 45cm+ (approx 18”+) below water surface level – the deepest area of the pond 45cm+(18″+) but no deeper than 75cm (30″). For plants that remain fully submerged like oxygenating plants or that send up leaf stems from the deep water like waterlilies.
  • Shelf 2 Suitable for shelf depth 23-44cm (approx 10-17”) below water surface – a depth of 23-44cm(10-17″) for certain Pond waterlilies and the emergent plants that require protection over their crowns in winter like Pontederia cordata lancifolia.

Placing the right plants in the right water depth is important.

If some are too shallow they will be caught in the ice and may die.

If some are too deep they will not survive either.


  • Plenty of shelf space at different depths.
  • Make flat shelves for the plant baskets so they are stable.
  • Create an area of slope from the top shelf to the rest of the garden for wildlife to climb up.
  • Use piles of cobbles or stones up the sloping top area to protect liner and keep it upright above water level.

For more details on Building a wildlife pond see our Tips and Advice pages.