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When planning a garden, it's worthwhile to pick elements that will add interest throughout the seasons. Your water garden is just part of the overall garden design. Well-proportioned shrubs, perennials and annuals planted around the water garden make a natural backdrop.
Factors that increase the growth of algae in a garden pond are:
Too much sunlight because of shortage of water plants to provide shade; water that is too warm because there is not enough shade or the pool is too shallow; and water that has too many dissolved nutrients, on which algae thrive.
You should not expect a garden pool to have the sterile clarity of a swimming pool, but on the other hand, you don't want green soupy water.
Algae is the main problem. The bright sun that helps the water plants thrive will contribute to algae bloom and heating of the water. Overheating of the water can be a concern if you add fish. Plan on extra maintenance if you locate your pond by a tree because of falling leaves, etc. that may blow into the pool.
Once plants grow they can provide shade for your pond, which lowers the temperature of the water and, also, the plants will consume excess nutrients. If you have plants and fish, try to aim for a 50 to 70% plant coverage on the water surface. Check your pH---too high or too low can affect algae growth. Do not be tempted to change the water since this will provide more dissolved nutrients for the algae to feed on. Also, the sudden change in temperature will be harmful to plants and fish. The addition of chemicals will clear the pool, but once the effectiveness of the chemical is gone, the problem will recur. Use them with care, if you must.
If you want to grow hardy water plants such as water lilies, bulrushes or marsh marigolds, or if you want fish, your pool should be at least 18-24 inches deep. Although floating plants such as water hyacinths and water lettuce will grow in a small shallow pool, 6-8 inches deep.
Prefabricated –preformed pools are expensive, but very strong and durable.
This is a good option for most pond keepers to start with. They are available in a number of shapes and sizes and come in fiberglass and PVC.
Pre-formed pools are rigid which makes them a good choice for sandy soils. They are stronger than the liner pond and their sides usually more upright. There is also less likelihood for damage to be done by dogs or other animals jumping in.
If you have a rock garden, you can easily construct a stream or waterfall leading to the pool. If you want a waterfall, you'll need a submersible pump. The size you choose will depend on the volume of water you want to move and the height you want to pump it. Also, you will need accessibility to a nearby exterior electrical source.
Underwater plants expel oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide and provide shelter for fish. They absorb nutrients directly through the their stems and foliage, so they do not need to be planted in soil but will need to be weighted or planted in gravel so that they can remain on the bottom of the pond.
Tropical water lilies do best in temperatures above 21 deg. Celsius. They should not be planted out until June when danger of frost is past. They end up with a longer bloom time than hardy water lilies, because they continue to flower for a time as temperatures drop. Blooms are usually larger and more fragrant than those on the hardies and they are best treated as annuals.
One way to create a pool for your water garden is by using PVC pool liner (flexible plastic liners available at most garden centres) which has the advantage of being cut to any shape. Installation is more time consuming if you use this method compared to prefabricated pools but it is considerably less expensive. Plastic liners can also be used to line existing concrete pools that have been damaged.
Larger pools are easier to maintain since water temperature will not fluctuate too much and the algae will be easier to control. If you would like a pool with no plants or fish in it, you can build a small one and add chlorine to the water to prevent the growth of algae.
When planning a new pond that will contain plants and goldfish, surface area can be almost any size but the depth should be 12-18 inches.
Koi Carp require at least 6 to 8 feet of surface and, at least one section of the pond should be 2 ½ - 3 feet deep.
Water lilies are the best known water plant and have beautiful white, yellow, orange or red blooms. They prefer still water, so if you have a waterfall in your pond keep them at the other end. They also require 5-6 hours of sun daily, although there are some that tolerate less. Hardy water lilies can be planted in the spring when the risk of frost is over. They spread horizontally and can be separated after 2 or 3 growing seasons.
To determine the size of flexible pool liner you will need, you can use this formula:
Width: add maximum width of pool plus double the depth plus six to eight inches overlap on each side.
Length: add maximum length plus double the depth, plus six to eight inches overlap on each side.
If you are in doubt about the exact size you require, buy a little more rather than a little less.
Factors that increase the growth of algae in a garden pond are:
Too much sunlight because of shortage of water plants to provide shade; water that is too warm because there is not enough shade or the pool is too shallow; and water that has too many dissolved nutrients on which algae thrive.
There are a number of materials available for constructing your garden pond, but cost can be a factor in determining the choice of material used. The two most popular choices are flexible plastic liners and preformed fiberglass or PVC pools.
Poured concrete pools are also an option, but with the new inexpensive materials available today, they are seldom built.
Marginal plants are aquatic plants that grow around the edges of the pond. They create a natural connection between the water and the land. They can be categorized as:
Plants other than lilies that tolerate having their roots submerged in shallow water, including Iris laevigata, cattail, rushes, and arrowhead;
plants that like to be wet but not completely submerged such asbog plants, including marsh marigolds; and plants that like to have wet but not waterlogged roots such as astilbe and primula.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|