A lot of people enjoy decorative gardening, and designing and growing a water garden is a satisfying and creative way to put your green thumb to work. Setting up a garden for water plants is different from establishing a traditional land-based garden. A careful selection of plants and materials will help you to create the most beautiful below-water garden you have ever seen.
What is a Water Garden?
A water garden is simply a garden that is designed to grow marsh plants and other water plants. These types of gardens can be made in many sizes, from small containers to large ponds, and they can be simple in their design or highly decorative. Filtering mechanisms, routine maintenance and natural plant processes help to keep the water clear and clean. A water garden can be home to decorative fish or local frogs, and it creates an attractive and tranquil focal point in your backyard.
Fountains and Waterfalls
When you are making a decorative water garden, you’ll find an exciting assortment of fountains and waterfalls that you can add to your setup. In many cases, fountains and waterfalls can be incorporated with your existing filter system so that no extra water-movement devices are needed; all you need is a strong pump.
Common fish tank water pumps are normally used to pull the water up from the tank and push it through a filter. It then falls back into the tank to be cycled again. So, if you want to create a waterfall, all you have to do is add some rocks and increase the flow of water. Of course, this means that the pump will have to work harder to pull water higher. However, most pumps should be able to at least create a small waterfall.
Fountains also work using pumps, but they require special attachments. Depending on the size of your water garden, a spray fountain may not be practical. However, they are a very nice touch for large pond gardens, and they provide a source of humidity and help to oxygenate the water.
Pond Plants Online explains that there are quite a few plants that you can use in your water garden. It would take up too much space to discuss them all, but here’s a few to get you started:
- Water lily
- Elephant Ear
- Creeping Jenny
- Cardinal flower
- Water canna
- Lizard’s tail
- Water bamboo
- Mosaic plant
- Sweet flag
It is natural to have fish in the water if you want to simulate a natural underwater environment. However, keep in mind that fish waste can have a negative effect on plant growth if the waste material builds up. Filtration removes a lot of this material, but it can only remove so much at one time.
Should you put fish in your water garden? The answer is yes — but with a few qualifiers.
First, you need to be careful that you don’t use too many fish. More fish means more ammonia-generating waste, and that makes it harder for your filter to keep up. Second, be aware that you will need to change your filter more often, and that you will need to purchase fish food, replacement filters, etc.
For an outdoor, unheated water garden, freshwater fish like koi and goldfish are beautiful choices. Colorful comet goldfish are known for being hardy and tolerating fluctuating water conditions well, making them a good choice for beginning water gardeners.
Keeping it Clean and Beautiful
The filter is your first line of defense. That being said, you cannot rely on the filter alone. Ebyland Landscape Supply explains that using beneficial bacteria can help maintain clear and healthy water conditions by reducing fish waste, organic plant material, sludge and excess nutrients in your pond, which can significantly reduce the total maintenance required.
One of the main reasons to make sure your pond has a healthy balance is for algae control. A little bit of algae is a good thing since goldfish and koi use it as food, and it can add oxygen to the water. However, if left unattended, a backyard pond can develop the conditions that lead to an overgrowth of algae. A heavy presence of algae can rob the water of sunlight and oxygen that plants and fish need to survive. There are algaecide chemicals on the market that you can use to reduce or remove algae.
You should also buy a skimming net so that you can remove debris from the surface of the water. This will be particularly important in autumn when falling leaves can cause all sorts of problems.
A water garden can offer a unique and beautiful accent for any yard. Most people who make water gardens do so for the aesthetic beauty that these gardens offer. The sound of running water adds a relaxing and therapeutic effect as you gaze at a well-made water garden.
Water gardens get weeds, just like other gardens, so you need to make sure you have the right equipment for dealing with all sorts of weed situations. Check out our great guide on weeding tools here!