Design A Unique Water Garden For Your Landscape

Urban and rural dwellers can bring interest of water into their own back yards with a water garden. From a birdbath or small fountain to a large pond with waterfalls and fish, each water garden is unique.

Water gardens are easy to install and maintain. Gardeners can introduce new plants, such as water lilies and lotus to the existing landscape. Space requirements and zoning must be considered when planning a water garden. Leave ample space for borders, benches or surrounding landscapes. In some localities, zoning ordinances may require homeowners to build a fence around a deep pool.

If you plan to install a water garden yourself, gather together a pick, shovel, level, heavy rope or garden hose, one or two straight boards, stakes for excavation and a framing square.

One or two people can install a water garden. The key is careful planning before digging any soil. When choosing the location for a water garden, consider placing it so it can be seen from a window in the house.

Other important factors to consider are exposure to sunlight, drainage and proximity to trees. Water lilies and lotus need full sun at least five hours a day and preferably 10 hours a day. A shadier spot limits your choice of aquatic plants.

Soil in the site for the water garden should be well-drained. Water-logged soil can distort the shape of an artificial pool and crack or break the liner. A pool placed in sandy soil needs to be specially prepared to prevent caving-in of the sides. If the pond is directly under trees, leaves that fall in will decay and harm plant and fish life, as well as clog pumps and filters.

When deciding on pond depth, remember shallow ponds are quicker to cloud with excess algae. Submerged plants, floating plants and fish do better in deeper pools. A good depth is 18-24 inches.

Before filling a water garden with plants and fish, the water should be free of chemicals. If the water contains ordinary chlorine, wait 24 to 48 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate. If chloramine or chlorine dioxide is present, get counteractive chemicals from a pet store or nursery to clean up your water.

For more information on building a water garden, ask your county Extension agent for circular ANR 789.

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SOURCE: DR. DAVE WILLIAMS, Extension horticulturist, Alabama Cooperative Extension System (334) 844-3032.