Water gardening is the cultivation of water plants in a garden environment. It can also be referred to as aquatic gardening or fish pond gardening. Regardless of what it is called, these water gardens are very popular among gardeners and homeowners. They offer a serene snapshot of nature that can help to beautify a yard or add life to an otherwise bland landscape.
An aquatic garden has several design options that will depend on the owner’s wants and needs. Some people prefer natural-looking water gardens, while others like the more artistic looks of a Japanese-styled water garden or an Italian-inspired design. Whether it is for relaxation or recreation, there is something for everyone when it comes to building the perfect water garden.
Water gardens are usually placed near a house or patio where they can be enjoyed and admired on a daily basis by the homeowner. This is not a common garden type, but it offers its own charm and beauty to those who take the time to build one.
Aquatic Plants in Garden Ponds
The main feature of a water garden pond is the plants and adding them can be accomplished by several methods: you can either plant them yourself, have an aquatic nursery plant them for you, or buy “potted” aquatic plants that are ready to put into the water. If you’re going to plant your own, most aquatic plants don’t need soil and will grow fine in the water itself.
Trees are also a good idea if you want shade for fish or just simply want trees in or around your pond. Trees may be either partially or completely underneath the water, although this requires more maintenance since when you have a majority of the tree under water, you’re going to want to clean it frequently since debris and leaves will build up and can cause an oxygen shortage.
If you don’t like the idea of trees in your pond, there’s also aquatic plants that grow on top of the water or don’t necessarily need soil, such as atlantica and lotus flowers. Each type of aquatic plant also has its own maintenance procedure if you want them to grow and multiply, so be sure to do some research before purchasing any plants for your water garden.
The most common variety of plants used in these sorts of gardens are various types of flowers. Water lilies are perhaps the number one choice.
Aquascape.com gives us a list of 10 popular water gardening plants, along with an image of each plant:
- Creeping Jenny Pond Plants
- Pickerel Pond Plants
- Horsetail Pond Plants
- Taro Pond Plants
- Cardinal Flower
- Water Lettuce
- Mosaic Plant
- Blue Iris
Of course, there are many other plants suitable for a water garden, but these are some of the more popular ones.
Creating a Water Garden Pond
Pond construction is largely dependent upon the type of pond you’re creating. If you want to create a small garden pond in your front yard or a bigger one, such as what some people prefer for their backyard, it’s all about building up an area where water can sit and be contained.
The materials that are used for constructing this area are designed to be strong enough to both hold water and keep it from escaping, as well as to provide a stable space for aquatic plants. Materials like acrylic, pea stone or coral rock can all serve this purpose.
Where to Put Your Water Garden
Where you put your water garden will also contribute to the look of it, as well as how easy it is to care for. These gardens are best-kept in areas with lots of direct sunlight and room for aquatic plants to grow. Water should be able to freely flow through the pond, but there should be enough depth so that fish (if you are adding them) can swim through.
Ideally, a water garden should be placed in such a way that the main part of it doesn’t get buried by leaves or other debris carried over by wind and rain, so if it’s near a patio or the house, it can reduce maintenance needs greatly.
A Patio Water Garden
If you prefer something on a smaller scale, consider a patio water garden. Adding aquatic plants to your patio or deck can make for great living areas as well as adding aesthetic value. To make a patio water garden, start with a waterproof container. A couple of options would be to purchase a plastic tub meant specifically for water gardens or lining an ordinary whiskey barrel with plastic.
You can grow several water plants in a tub of water on your deck, and you can even add fish or a fountain for decoration. Even in 20 to 30 gallons of water, miniature water lilies, lotuses, and many other aquatic plants thrive. For the best growing conditions, place your container in a location that receives at least five to six hours of direct sunlight each day. If you live in a hot climate, container gardens do better with afternoon shade.
Adding Fish to Your Water Garden
If you plan on including fish in your garden pond, then some specialized knowledge is necessary so that the ecosystem you create is balanced and the fish can live in harmony with each other. Fish such as koi are an example of what you could have in your garden pond, but it’s important to not get too many fish if you’re new to this – you don’t want to end up with a dead fish disaster!
The main thing is just to provide oxygen and food, as well as ensure that there are places to hide and swim in both shallow water and deeper water.
The fish species that would be ideal to have in a garden pond are one of the several popular Koi, such as goldfish or koi. The general rule is you can’t keep more than two or three fish per surface foot of water, so this is something to keep in mind if you want to have fish.
One thing that should also be kept in mind is not all koi can adapt to a backyard pond, so it’s best to do some research before going out and buying any fish. What you take into account when choosing your fish for the pond are:
- Shape of body – Deep-bodied fish are more likely to not jump out of your pond, while long and skinny fish can jump out easily.
- Size – It’s easier to care for the fish if they’re small enough to be able to eat food from the bottom of the pond and won’t cause damage. Koi should be at least two inches before introducing them to your pond.
- Pond temperature – Fish can survive in ponds that range from 40-95 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s better if the correct temperature is maintained. Temperatures between 60-70 degrees are ideal for koi and goldfish.
- Intended effect – Aquatic plants often do better with small fish as opposed to large fish, but it all depends on the species.
- Considerations – It’s best to have a space of at least four feet for your fish, as well as a place where they can hide and escape predators. Also consider whether you want to use your pond more for fishing or aquatic plants, since koi won’t eat floating plants in the pond, but goldfish or other fish may.
Implementing a garden pond doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive; just use common sense and there won’t be any problems.