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Water Gardens

We provide water garden design, installation, and consultation.

There are a lot of reasons to have a water garden. My first excuse to build a water garden at my house was because I wanted to grow some water plants. It doesn't require much water to float a few plants. A tub or basin that holds water is enough for many plants. There are a slew of aquatic plants that can float on an inch of water or less or love to be in a bog or un-drained container. Water noise to block out the sounds of the traffic and neighbors attracted me. A stream seemed like a challenge. But once I made one I was rewarded by the increased bird-life that was attracted to the water. My enthusiasm was fueled so when I got a chance I built a pond for someone else. Finding reasons for water features beyond their simple beauty has been easy. Surprisingly they have not been that difficult to construct.

Water evaporates from ponds at about the same rate that it transpires from a lawn. This makes a good argument for putting in a water garden or another great excuse for minimizing the area taken up by turf. Most folks are quite satisfied with a much smaller pond than they would be for size of their lawn. The impact of the pond is just so much greater than for an equal area of sod. The sound of water can be great for masking traffic or industrial noise. The water noise produced is a white noise that people find calming. Maybe it is also due to all of those extra negative ions floating about. The practitioners of Feng Shuei have found importance in the specific placement of water in the landscape for centuries. Whether the project requires a lake or just a small basin, water brings a coolness and visually arresting focal point into a landscape. By using a pump, either in or out of the water, noise, splash and the sparkle of moving water becomes a part of the landscape. Fish and plants can be a part of the water garden as well. I am not fond of adding chlorine to the water. Fish and plants won't tolerate it. I would rather set up a small ecosystem that can be fairly self supporting. Algae will grow. Barley straw can help a lot with the string algae but does not stop it entirely. Think of the algae as the weeds of this section of the garden. I will tolerate a little and pull out the rest. I started my first pond so that I could have lilies and other water plants. Most of my garden endeavors have been inspired by the plants that I can grow if I only had perfectly drained soil for an alpine bed, or a wet zone for bog plants or in this case a basin where lilies, lotus and other aquatic plants would thrive. It is important to keep the fish population down to a level that the water can cleanse itself or you have to add lots of expensive equipment, uv lights, filtration tanks etc . . . The natural way that this is accomplished is through the actions of bacteria on every surface exposed to the water and the absorption of the nutrients by the plants. In order to have more, or larger, fish more filtration must take place. This can be accomplished by moving the water past a greater amount of filtering materials. I usually do this on the intake side of the pump but have set up systems that just transport the water from one side of a pond to the other and filter at both ends to maximize the water filtration. The bacteria population is dramatically increased by the water movement. Their population will crash if the water is turned off for even as little as 4 hours. So I try to set up the ponds to run continuously. It is important to keep water from running into a pond. The surface water picks up nutrients and organic material and adds it to the water. It is difficult to balance a pond when this occurs.

California natives that can go in or around your water feature: Mimulus cardinalis, Lobelia cardinalis, Ludwigia peploides, Carex tumicola, Heliotropium curassavicum

Some excellent books on ponds

Water Gardening, Water Lilies and Lotuses by Perry D. Slocum and Peter Robinson gives a great in depth view of what is needed for a water garden as well as what is possible. There are copious pictures of aquatic plants and diagrams of the workings of ponds

The Pond Doctor by Helen Nash is direct about getting to the problems faced in a water garden. The ecology of the water feature is discussed. Methods described for manipulating its conditions are invaluable. This book represents a wealth of experience.

A few examples

Bamboo Bridge

Fountain in a Healing Garden

A spring fed pond

Fish spitting into a well

Pond with a bridge

Small Pond in a large crock

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Last modified: July 4, 2015