Water Garden

A water feature with colorful flowers will enhance any style you choose for your home landscape design.

Maybe you have an existing pond in your backyard and would love to build a garden around it. Or maybe you’re so in love with the idea that you’re willing to start from scratch. The fact is that water gardens are very easy to implement in your yard. Besides, who can resist the idea of sitting down with a cool drink next to a trickling waterfall and your very own pond?

Unless you’re blessed with a preexisting pond, you’ll need to do some planning first. First, determine the features you want. Do you want a waterfall? Koi pond or other fish? Plants only?

The more stuff you want in the pond, the larger it will need to be. Select a location where rainwater won’t drain into the pond, carrying fertilizer and muck into your pond. And take the time to map out the pond on the ground to make sure its what you want before you break ground.

Water Garden History

Historically, water features such as ponds and waterfalls were often found in Japanese gardens. The tradition passed from them to the Greeks and Romans, and many European gardens integrated fountains and ponds into their elaborate gardens. After World War II, water gardening became increasingly popular, since many plants and fish varieties were now readily available outside of Japan.

A small waterfall adds the sound and movement of flowing water to your landscape design.

Water Garden Characteristics

Obviously, the central characteristic of your water garden is the water. The shape of your pond or ponds really contributes to the overall vibe of your garden. If you like a more modern, geometric look, try a circular or oval shaped pond. If you like something more natural, use freeform shapes for the water features. If you’d like to be able to walk through the garden, consider a narrow pond with a bridge arching over it. If you plan to create a sitting area next to the pond, orient the pond along the sitting area so that everyone can see it.

While most gardeners spend a lot of time pruning, weeding, and watering, water gardeners have a different set of important tasks. As a water gardener, you’ll need to focus on keeping the pond clean and the nutrients in the water properly balanced. It’s actually rather similar to keeping a fish tank.

You’ll need to keep the water free of debris, maintain the water pump and filters, and periodically test the water. Water can be treated or changed to help keep levels where they ought to be. Even if you don’t have fish in your pond, don’t skip these steps. Murky water will really interfere with your enjoyment of your Water Garden, and if it gets particularly bad, it can kill off some of your delicate plant life.

One concern that many potential water gardeners have is mosquitoes. We’ve all been taught that standing bodies of water attract them, so Water Gardens are a big mistake, right? Actually, that’s not true. Water gardens attract dragonflies and damselflies, and they eat mosquitoes for lunch. So do koi and other fish, for that matter, so your pond will police itself when it comes to mosquitoes. However, you do want to make sure that the water in your garden is circulating properly; little pools of stagnant water should be eliminated just to be safe.

Water Garden Layout

  • Once the pond shape has been selected, you’ll need to dig out the area and line it with a waterproof liner. Take the time at this point to step back and consider the overall appearance of the pond and how it works with the surrounding environment. Now is the best time to make changes
  • Flat ponds can be pretty boring. Inject a little variety into a flat landscape by building a short rock or slate wall along the back of your pond and plant ferns or other plants along the top
  • A waterfall really adds visual interest and helps to aerate the water at the same time. Your waterfall can land right into the main pool, or it can trickle through several levels of pools before it gets to the bottom
  • Carefully plan your approach when it comes to placing plants. Move from the center of the pond outwards, placing the larger potted plants in first, followed by the floaters, then smaller potted plants, and edging. Make sure to leave an easy access point that will allow you to test the water without trampling on one of your beautiful plants

A small pond or water feature in your garden will attract wildlife and add natural beauty to the landscaping.

Plants to Use in a Water Garden

Your Water Garden plants not only provide something pretty to look at, but they make important contributions to the little ecosystem that you’re constructing. For example, they offer shelter to your fish and block animals from using your pond as an impromptu bath. You’ll need a variety of different types of plants, including some that grow on the pond’s edges, some that float in the water, and others that are placed in pots that are then placed underwater.

Anacharis is one plant that you’ll definitely want to check out because it consumes nutrients that will allow algae to spread. You’ll probably still need to keep an eye on the algae situation, but anything that helps to keep algae in check is a very good thing. However, if you plan to keep koi, they consider anacharis to be a tasty treat, so you’ll need to protect them.

You’ve got a couple of options when it comes to planting species that are appetizing to your fish. You can create two separate pools connected by a waterfall, and put the anacharis and other species in the upper pool, or you can just use plant protectors.

Cool and refreshing, a water garden gives you the opportunity to use plants that thrive naturally around a pond or stream.

Some popular choices for a Water Garden include:

  • Anacharis
  • Cattail
  • Creeping jenny
  • Dwarf papyrus
  • Lotus
  • Taro
  • Water hyacinth
  • Water lilies
  • Water poppy
  • Water willow

Water Garden Accessory Suggestions

Some accessory ideas to integrate into your Water Garden include:

  • Install a garden bridge. Try a rustic country style or a streamlined modern version to suit the décor
  • Create an imitation island covered in flowers
  • Install lanterns in the ground around your pond to illuminate the entire area at night

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