Build It and They Will
By Judy Sedbrook, master gardener,
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver County
Living in the heart of the city, we often miss out on the simple pleasures that come
from living near water.
A water garden, whether it be a water-proof container on the patio, a half-barrel with
a fountain or an in-ground pond, can bring the sights and sounds usually found near lakes
or streams right into your own backyard.
Thanks to modern plastics, the process of installing a beautiful water garden has been
reduced to a weekend job requiring only a minimum of easily learned skills. Local garden
and home improvement centers now stock everything needed to complete this type of project.
Whether you opt for a small container or a pond, there are a few things you will want
to consider before beginning installation.
- Sunlight. Most water plants need a spot with 5 to 8 hours of sunlight. A shadier
spot can be used, but it will limit the choice of plants. Ponds smaller than 100 gallons
of water do better with afternoon shade.
- Drainage. If building a pond, the soil in the site should be well drained to
avoid shifting or settling that can crack or break the lining. Low areas with water runoff
from the surrounding landscape should be avoided.
- Trees. Locations under overhanging tees should be reconsidered. Falling leaves
can decay in the water, harming fish and plant life. They may also clog pumps and filters.
Placing an in-ground pond too close to a tree may damage the tree's roots.
- Water and electricity. Evaporation will require periodic refilling of the
container and a garden hose should be easily accessible. If using a pump to power a
fountain, waterfall or filter, a household circuit plug (110 volts, 20 amps) made for
outdoor use should be near the water garden.
- Local regulations. Before installing an in-ground pond, check with your local
building department for restrictions and the possible necessity of having a permit. Always
consult your local utility companies for the location of underground lines before digging.
- Location. Your water garden should be in a location where you will be
able to easily enjoy it; on or near the patio or visible from a window.
- Size. In the case of a pond, the size should be suited to the overall
size of the garden where you will install it. You don't want to overwhelm a small yard
with a large pond.
- Maintenance. Although you may think of your water garden as a
self-contained ecosystem, it will still require some maintenance at different times of the
year. This will include clean-up in the spring, periodic removal of debris and
replenishing of the water, plant care, protection from leaves in the fall and preparation
Once the project has been completed, sit back and relax. The sound of the water will
not only be soothing to you but will attract a variety of wildlife. Birds, dragonflies,
butterflies, frogs and even raccoons and the occasional fox have been observed to visit
water gardens in urban neighborhoods.
Photograph courtesy of Judy Sedbrook.
Visit our Photo Gallery of Water Gardens
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Colorado Water Garden Society
messages 1023 through 1027
Internet Pond Society
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