THE WATER GARDEN
In a water garden, the focus is on the pond plants and ecosystem. As on land, always plan your garden before you build it. Begin with the basics:
- Include a deep water
area (24-30") for two reasons: it allows the pond to
over-winter plants, fish and scavengers below the ice in the winter, and
it keeps the pond cooler in the summer. Hardy water lilies live at this
There are many different aquatic and wetland plants for the water gardener. Water plants are vigorous growers, and need little or no help from us other than trimming, dividing and fertilizing. Feel confident you will experience rapid growth and lots of bloom, even the first year! Start with tried and true plants hardy to our area. From your primary viewing, place the taller plants toward the back of the pond, using bigger, broader pots to provide mass plantings and compliment the stonework. Leave "negative space" just in front of the waterfall, where the water dances off of the stones and into the pond. Fish love to frolic where the water is most disturbed.
In the water garden, the key to good water quality is plants, plants, plants! They use up excess nutrients, hide fish fry and tadpoles from prey, and shade the pond to cool it and prevent algae photosynthesis.
Plan to spend a half hour
to 2, depending on the size and stocking levels (both plants and fish)
and season, "playing in the water" per week. Your time will
be well-spent nipping and trimming, servicing the pump and filter,
topping up the pond, and generally checking the well-being of the
inhabitants of the pond.
Stand back and take a look, viewing it from your living space, or the place(s) from which you will be viewing your pond the most. Make adjustments as needed. When you are satisfied with your design, mark the stone margin with paint. Next, outline the marginal shelves and other areas at different excavation depths (e.g. footings for waterfalls). All shelf widths should be a minimum of 1’ wide to accommodate aquatic pots.
All depths are relative to the water level. Remove only the dirt necessary to conform to the plan. The floor and shelves should be level and smooth. Sides should be dug at a slight angle to accommodate winter ice heaving. To insure margin stability and prevent erosion over time, build a reinforced concrete ring to give the stone margin a good footing.
Fine-tune the excavation,
removing the forms and all stones, roots and sharp objects. Cover
the floor and shelves with 1- 2" of well-tamped sand or underlayment
material, and underlayment as needed on the walls.
LENGTH + (2 x DEPTH) + 2' = LINER LENGTH
Carefully set the liner in the hole, giving it lots of slack. Be sure it laps evenly over the rock shelf all around. Begin filling the pond, pulling out the wrinkles on the bottom and making sure the liner fits snuggly in all the corners. As the water rises to 6", make the folds necessary to conform to the shape of your pond. Fold away from primary view points, from the bottom straight up. A few large folds are less obvious than many small ones.
Remember, your liner serves two functions: It keeps the water in and it keeps the rest of the world out.
As you lay your stone borders, always bring the liner slightly above the surrounding grade. This prevents soil and chemical run-off into your pond. For questions, call WATER'S EDGE.
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