Water Gardens – an Introduction

Water Gardens - an Introduction
Water Garden Waterfall

Water Garden Waterfall

One of the latest trends in gardening is the water garden. The thing is though that water gardens have been around for a long time. The ancient Egyptians had them and so did the Romans. So it's a little bit hard to say exactly what this style of gardening is considered new. It could be the fact that today we have ready access to preformed ponds, and all manner of pumps, filter and lighting effect. Regardless of how old or new water gardens are there can be no doubt that their popularity is growing dramatically. In this day and age there aren't too many of us who are able to enjoy the simple pleasures of  life near a small stream. Things like:
    • the soothing sound of water gurgling and bubbling over rocks,
    • fish plopping out of the water,
    • watching the birds, dragonflies, butterflies, frogs that are attracted to these areas
    • observing the sometimes exotic looking plants that grow in and along the margins of streams
      An Unusual Water Garden Setting

      An Unusual Water Garden Setting

      Regardless of the type of water garden you're planning whether it be a simple container or pond or something more elaborate with waterfalls etc. there are a few things you need to consider before you get started.
      1. Location - this is probably the most important aspect of your planning and includes:
        • Sunlight - most aquatic plants require 5 to 8  hours of sunlight a day. If you choose a place that gets lets that this you are limiting you choice of plants.
        • Existing Trees - if you plant to put your garden in an area that has overhanging trees be prepared for problems. Falling leaves and small branches will clog pumps and filters and if left in the water they will decay thus greatly increasing the chance of disease in your fish and plants. Likewise, pond construction could damage the tree's roots.
        • Soils and Drainage - Let's face it you don't want to go to all the trouble and expense of building a water garden only to have linings tear or break or your pond pop out of the ground because the location you selected has poorly draining soils. You should also avoid low lying areas which collect water from their surrounds.
      2. Goldfish in a Water Garden

        Goldfish in a Water Garden

        Budget - Your budget is just as important as your location. Like many things, building a water garden can get very expensive very quickly, therefore you need a budget to place limits on your visions of what might be. Needless to say the bigger the garden the more expensive it will be. When you're planning your budget don't forget to include:
        • fish (if you're going to keep them),
        • plants and/or seed, and
        • any electrical, including lighting, and plumbing work you may require etc.
        And remember there's nothing wrong with starting small and expanding your gardens size later on.
      3. Size - The basic rule of thumb when it comes to the size of your garden is that you don't want to overwhelm your yard. In other words, the smaller the yard the smaller the water garden. Your budget should also put some brakes on the size of your garden. Also keep in mind that the size of your garden will determine how much time you will need to spend on maintenance.
      4. Maintenance - One often overlooked aspect of water gardens is maintenance. As with any garden you need to take care of it.
        • If you have fish they need to be kept in good health and part of that comes from keeping the water they live in clean from debris particularly in the fall.
        • Your plants also need to be taken care of as well as do any filters and pumps you install.
        • You'll need to winterize your pond as winter draws close.
        • Algae can be a problem and usually results from an overdose of nutrients from fertilizer and/or fish food. So be careful not to overfeed your plants or fish. While chemicals may be employed to control algae use them carefully as they may kill your plants and fish. Likewise, you can add more plants or install a filter if you don't have one.
        • Just like an aquarium you'll need to keep a close watch on your water's quality and level. More often than not town water will contain chlorine and this should not be added directly to your pond or pool as it will create problems for your plants and fish. Before adding town water you should let it stand in an open container for about 24 hours.
      There's a wide variety of aquatic plants you can choose from for your water garden including
      • Free floating Plants - these float on top of the water and grow quickly and will require thinning. They also shade the water and thus help keep algae at bay by reducing light levels.
      • Marginal Plants - sometimes refered to as bog plants, have their roots in shallow water or the wet soil at a pools margins. Help keep algae at bay by competing for nitrogen.
      • Surface  Plants - such as lilies, have their roots in soil while their leaves float on top of the water. As with free floating plants these also help control algae by reducing light levels.
      • Submerged Plants - may be rooted in soil or free floating but their leaves tend to remain submerged. These oxygen producers are important for fish and they also use the nitrogen produced by decaying matter thus depriving algae.
      Keep in mind that your plants will grow often quite quickly so ensure you leave space for them too grow. At most, your plants should cover around 50% to 60% of the water, . It's not a bad idea to select some for their fragrance, some for their looks and some that produce generous amounts of oxygen as they'll help you maintain a healthy pool. The base line is that you need to maintain a balance between plants that are functional and those that are ornamental. In addition the right selection of plants can not only add vertical aspects to your garden but also a stunning variety of color and texture.  Lorenz's OK Seeds carries a variety of seeds suitable for your water garden. Including: The bottom line is that water gardening can be a lot of fun and generally take about the same effort as a normal garden to maintain. Moreover, imagine how relaxing it is to sit by your garden listening to the relaxing sounds of a gurgling and bubbling stream right in your own yard. Additional Resources -There are a lot of business websites that specialize in water gardens including design, construction, components and accessories. A basic search using your favorite search engine will provide some excellent results. However, I believe the best place toget your creative juices flowing is to grab hold of a couple of good books such as those you'll find about  Water Gardens at Amazon.com.
      Water Lily - A Surface WaterGarden Plant

      Water Lily - A Surface Water Garden Plant

      <p>Another Example of an Unusual Water Garden</p>

      Another Example of an Unusual Water Garden

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