Water gardening is an exciting hobby, suitable for beginning gardeners as well as experts. From practical, small ponds to exorbitant displays, there is a water gardening style appropriate for almost anyone.
Water gardening is suitable for a wide variety of climates. Even people, who live in desert climates, periods of drought or anywhere where water is scarce or rationed, can cultivate water gardens. An established garden uses less water then the equivalent area of lawn would need.
The first step in designing your water garden is planning the placement. When deciding where you will put your garden, keep in mind the size, complexity, and amount of care you want to invest. If you will keep fish in the garden the pool must be deep enough to not freeze solid during the winter.
The topography of the land surrounding your planned pond is important; you do not want rain or sprinkler runoff to carry fertilizer or other traditional gardening chemicals into your water garden.
Make sure that the location of your water garden is compatible with the types of plants you want to grow. Most plants have a specific set of conditions, such as the amount of sunlight, temperature, and water depth that they need to maintain to have the best plant performance in your garden.
After you have determined the placement of your garden, you will need to install the base of the pond. If you are laying your own pond, make sure to remove any sharp sticks and stones that might puncture the liner. Placing an inch thick layer of sand at the bottom of the hole will help protect the liner.
Many kits are available at local hardware and nursery stores. Remember to dig the hole for the pool deep enough to accommodate both the depth of water and the kit itself. Slanting the hole slightly will allow for easier cleaning later, sediment will fall to the deepest side. Custom concrete bases can also be professionally installed.
Once the base is in, it is time to install any desired machinery. Pumps, filters, and UV sanitizers reduce the maintenance required for ponds and are a necessity if you are planning to include fish. Fountains and waterfalls add visual interest and personalize your garden. It is much easier to install this machinery, according to the directions included with the product before the water is added.
Next, fill the pond with water and check for any leaks. Even a small leak can leave you with a swamp surrounding an empty pond. Add all recommended chemicals, such as de-chlorinator, water clarifier, biological boosters, and fertilizers. Information on usage is available where these products are sold. If you are planning to keep fish, make sure that these chemicals will be compatible.
There are many plants available for your water garden, from floaters to bulbs. Check with your local nursery for suitability within your region and availability. There are many exotic varieties available over the Internet and by mail order. Many of these exotic varieties require exacting conditions and are more suitable to those gardens that are in temperate climates or maintained by experienced gardeners.
From inexpensive varieties sold at local pet shops to the prize winning tategoi which sell for thousands of dollars in Japan, Koi are by far the most popular fish for water gardeners. Like any other pets, garden fish need to be fed, protected from diseases and provided with adequate living conditions. A reputable fish breeder/seller should be able to provide you with direction on how to care for your garden fish.
Preparation is key when winterizing ponds to ensure optimal spring recovery. Some water plants such as surface floaters and water lilies simply will not tolerate winter conditions and will need to be replaced yearly. Plants that are permanently rooted in the soil should be trimmed as much as possible. The dirt will sufficiently insulate the roots. Plants in mobile pots should be moved to the deepest part of the pond to avoid freezing.
Fish do not need to be fed over the winter; in fact, their digestive system slows down when temperatures begin to drop. They do need at least two feet of unfrozen water below any layer of ice to hibernate in. There must also be some type of break in the ice to allow oxygen into the water and poisonous gasses to escape. In colder climates, this may require an electric de-icer.
From small, informal water gardens to lavish pools complete with fish and fountains, water gardening is an entertaining alternative to traditional gardening. These types of gardens do not require much more effort they typical gardens, but can quickly become an interesting and enjoyable feature of your property.