There may be no more dramatic and entertaining addition to a backyard landscape than a water garden, or pond, stocked with bright Japanese koi.
Water gardens provide a beautiful showcase for a variety of plants and a serene, contemplative area for homeowners. The addition of water features to a home’s landscaping, whether ponds, waterfalls or fountains, increases its “curb appeal” and resale value, as well as creating a natural environment attractive to songbirds and butterflies.
Water gardens, like perennial gardens, need to be planned in advance for the best results. Also like flower gardens, they need to be maintained with a little continuous care and some Spring cleaning and preparation for the Summer season.
Adding a water feature can enhance both the value of your property and your life. Aside from providing healthy outdoor exercise, water gardens promote tranquility and a sense of restfulness.
Water gardens come in several sizes and price ranges. Each one has its own requirements in space and commitment of time. All require a pump and filtration system and plants that promote a healthy pond environment as well as shade for at least part of the pond area. Routine cleaning is essential, the frequency determined by the size of the pond, weather conditions, and number and types of filtering plants.
Installing a water garden isn’t quite as simple as digging a hole, buying a liner and a few plants, and having a pond but it’s not that hard either. Most stores which sell water garden liners and filtration systems also provide instruction materials, often including free workshops. Some vendors even provide for on-site assistance from experts to help people install their water gardens for maximum enjoyment.
Reducing or preventing the growth of algae is the most important aspect of water gardening. Natural bacteria to break down waste and complete the environmental cycle are the preferred choice for preventing algae growth. The bacteria, as well as the other necessary equipment, are usually available at the retailer.
Plants perform part of the job, mechanical and biological filters the rest. Four groups of plants contribute to the pond’s environment. The first group are deep water plants like water lilies and lotus. They shade the water from too much sunlight, which allows algae to grow. Tropical hardy plants like cardinal flower, papyrus, Creeping Jenny, and water canna sit in pots secured at bottom of the pond. They provide filtration as the water flows through their specially-designed pots.
The third group float along the surface of the water and are called the “super filtering plants.” These include water hyacinths, water lettuce, and sensitive fern. .
Lastly, are the oxygenators like seaweed, anacharis and foxtail, which grow below the surface of the water adding oxygen to the environment.
Mechanical and biological filters, with an occasional addition of chemicals, complete the work of keeping the water garden healthy.
Once you have your water garden established, add-ons make it more fun and entertaining.
Japanese koi and other live fish are a frequent choice for water gardeners because of their beauty and spectacular colors. They actually respond to the humans who feed them. Not only do koi come to surface to feed but they’ve been shown to recognize their human caregivers and some have even been trained to eat out of their human’s hand.
Other water feature enhancements can be dramatic -like underwater lights, foggers, and lighted rocks-or serene-like waterfalls and floating islands. Some are simply creative-like a glass globe that has an underside opening that allows it to fill with water. The pond’s fish swim up inside (especially if tempted with some food), so that they are “out of the water” while still in it.
Water garden possibilities continue to expand making it a hobby rather than a one-time landscaping addition and one that promotes healthy outdoor relaxation and enjoyment.