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Water Gardening

There is just something about water in the garden that is utterly compelling. Whether it is a simple wooden barrel with a few plants and fish on your patio, or a pond with waterfall and maybe even a stream in your backyard, water gardening is definitely increasing in popularity.

A few years ago, articles on water gardening were hard to find. Now there are magazines, such as Water Gardening, Pond & Garden, & Pond Keeper, published on water gardening. Books are being written about plants, fish, building ponds—the list goes on. Check out the Internet and you can spend hours surfing the web. There are Water Garden Clubs, Koi Clubs and just about any other information you may need.

Water in the garden can yield year round enjoyment. In the spring, as the pond begins to “wake up” from the long winter, the fish become more active and the plant life responds to the warmer temperatures. As the hot summer days arrive, the sound of running water has a cooling effect. The stress of the day doesn’t seem that bad anymore because, all of a sudden, there is the calming affect of water. It somehow has a way of relaxing us. When fall arrives, activity begins to slow down in preparation for the winter months. Waterfalls freeze and then thaw, showing the beauty of Mother Nature’s ice creations. As snow covers the pond, there is more beauty for us to enjoy while we wait for spring to arrive.

When considering the water garden design, there are two general categories: formal informal. Formal design is square, octagonal, circular or oval. Because of the characteristics of these geometrical shapes— defined edges and restrained planting areas— location is an important consideration. A pond in this category must be carefully oriented to any existing landscape and adjacent structures. In addition, cleanliness is probably a little more important than with an Informal pond.

Informal ponds, in contrast to the formal ponds that are sculptured or geometric in concept, seem to be more relaxing. Informal ponds are often designed to emulate nature with waterfalls, streams, boulders and plant life. Informal ponds take on a more “free” form and are curvilinear in shape. Complicated shapes should be avoided. Simple shapes are easier to dig and the liner is easier to install as well. Less liner will be needed, reducing the cost.

The size of the pond will be determined by location on decks, patios, balconies or terraces. Even half a whiskey barrel or patio pond can be quite an impressive display with water lily, lotus, a few hyacinth and a couple of goldfish. Add a spitting frog and you have the sound of moving water! Generally, however, a common rule to keep in mind is “Big is Beautiful”. There are greater possibilities with larger bodies of water, increased plant opportunities and water reflections. Larger bodies of water are also easier to maintain, have fewer temperature fluctuations, and can accommodate more varieties of plant and animal life.

The cost is an obvious question, but double the size doesn’t necessarily mean double the cost. There are certain costs that will remain the same or only slightly increase the cost of your water feature, whether it be the size of the pump, filter, additional liner or stone that may be needed. One of the most common complaints from first time pond builders is that they wish they had made their pond bigger and deeper to allow room for growth for waterlilies, marginals, floaters and fish.

Water forms a focal point and is arguably the most magical element of the garden. Its therapeutic effect is well known, especially if the pond can be viewed from both inside and outside the house. Add the sound of moving water heard through an open door or window, and you have the perfect location for a water feature. But just because your area may not meet the criteria for the “perfect setting” doesn’t mean a water feature should not be considered. Even the soothing sound of running water blocking the sounds of traffic as you sit on your deck or patio is something to be considered.

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