Ponds, Pools and Lochans

7.6 Amenity benefits of ponds (including SUDS schemes)

People find water in the landscape intrinsically attractive and ponds offer the opportunity to use many classical landscaping techniques which work with water.

Water creates a natural focal point in any landscape; it reflects the sky, or buildings or night lights. It is animated and the birds of ponds and lakes, such as coots, mallards and mute swans, are highly valued by people.

In designing ponds, including basins used in SUDS schemes, the opportunities to add to the amenity value of sites include:

  • creation of views over water from buildings and from roads and path approaching ponds and lakes
  • designing in reflection pools - careful siting of ponds so that reflections of interesting landscape features (trees, landmark buildings) are created
  • the creation of visual surprises, where unexpected views are created by landscaping or careful location of trees and shrubs, or the creation of gaps in marginal vegetation
  • provision of walks or picnic facilities near to water features.

To improve the appearance of ponds, avoid unsightly concrete structures; use soft engineering techniques (e.g. live and dead willows, wood, vegetation palettes).

To combine the requirements of visual amenity (clear views unobstructed by wetland plants, trees or scrub), with nature conservation (vegetation, trees, shelter), create viewpoints with dense cover off to the sides of these main viewpoints.

Make provision for regular litter removal; accumulated litter gives the impression that a site is uncared for. If litter is likely to be a problem, consider reducing the amount of tall vegetation and scrub in any planting schemes; it is harder to remove rubbish from these areas.

In more formal settings, such as business parks and other prestige locations where style and design are important, the impression of formality can be created by careful location of short grass close to longer less intensively managed vegetation. Note that because of the overriding importance of unpolluted water for good pond habitats, even ponds with a completely regular shape will inevitably provide a good wildlife habitat; indeed as a rough rule of thumb, the more formal the setting, the cleaner the water needs to be to provide good wildlife habitat.

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