10 tips for building a water garden | Living the Country Life
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10 tips for building a water garden

With the right planning, you can create an escape that will add a whole new dimension to your backyard. Here's how to do it.
  • Relaxation and inspiration

    Claude Monet's paintings of his water garden at Giverny show a Japanese bridge gently arching over a pond full of water lilies, all surrounded by lush trees. Monet once said, "Suddenly I had the revelation of how magical my pond is. I took up my palette. Since that time I have scarcely had any other model." <br>The great thing about water gardens is they are obtainable. You can have one on your acreage! Here are some helpful tips for creating the perfect water garden for your property.<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Choose the right spot

    "It's best to place the water garden in a spot that gets at least five hours of sunlight each day," says Doug Jimerson, garden editor for Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Jimerson created a water garden of Monet proportions on his acreage. "You should avoid low spots or areas in your yard that accumulate runoff. So look for a level spot. And don't put a pond under a tree."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Develop a design

    "Take a garden hose and lay out your area. Just try to make a natural shape," says Jimerson. "There is nothing worse than a water garden that looks like a really unnatural round.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Use your space well

    Big, natural-looking ponds are great, but if you don't have the space for one, you can still have a great water feature. This long, slender pond is perfect for narrow pieces of property, or for use between established gardens that you just can't bear to tear up.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Use objects with meaning

    Using items that mean something to you, or that come from a special place, is a great way to personalize a water garden. A statue that reminds you of your daughter, stones from your grandparents' farm, and shells or rocks from a favorite vacation all make wonderful additions to a water garden.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Plant a wide variety

    "Your pond should have sloped sides with planting terraces that step down toward the deepest part of the pond. This way you can plant a wide variety of plants and create different habitats," Jimerson says. Habitats are important for both aesthetic value and water quality. "Most water gardens should have three main types of plants: oxygenators and marginals, which are the types of plants along the edge, all the way around the pond; the floating plants, which are the water lettuces and hyoscines and things on the surface of the water; and then, of course, the lilies and lotus."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Control algae

    "The key to algae is to compete with it," says Jimerson. "The more plants you have, the more shade they provide, the less algae you have. For example, lilies shade the bottom. Algae can't compete with that. Marginal plants suck up extra nutrients in the water, and algae have a hard time competing with the lack of sun and nutrients." An integral factor in diminishing algae is the depth of the pond. "The deeper, the better," says Jimerson. "I think 3 to 4 feet is a good depth, and then you graduate out."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Consider a bog

    A unique addition to a water garden is a bog, which allows water to permeate up through the stone ground, keeping the surface moist. Marginal plants can be grown in the marsh and will act as a filter, consuming the extra nutrients that feed algae.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Add fish

    Fish also keep water gardens attractive and clean. "You use the fish for both color and interest. They also eat the mosquito larvae," says Jimerson. "Additionally, the koi like to eat algae. You'll see them running along the rocks, just grazing like cows."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Include a waterfall

    Not only is the sound of trickling water soothing, but the movement benefits the garden. "The waterfall pushes water from one side of the garden to the other, moving nutrients throughout the space," Jimerson says. Also, mosquitoes prefer to lay their larvae in still water, so it controls bugs.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013
  • Keep it maintained

    Other than tending to the plants, the pond will need to be drained, power-washed, and refilled once each year.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: June 14, 2013

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