Open Your Yard
Open your yard to the exotic enchantment of a water garden. It is low in cost and high on aesthetics.
You are limited only by your imagination. Make your pond round, oblong, irregular or even square, then line it with any fish safe flexible liner with geo-textile underlayment and add water. It is that simple!
A water garden is incomplete without aquatic plants. Also fish, such as goldfish and koi, are an enjoyable addition. They add color, beauty and movement to a pond. In addition they eat mosquito and gnat larvae and help control algae and plant growth.
To enjoy the pleasures of a water garden, select a level site that gets five hours or more of sunlight a day. This amount of sunlight is needed to maintain healthy growth of your aquatic plants. Avoid areas near or under trees because they block the sunlight and can be messy.
Decomposing leaves in the water give off gases that can poison fish. Place your water garden where you can enjoy the view from your house. It should be accessible with a garden hose, electricity and in a protected area to block the wind and reduce evaporation.
Use your imagination...shape the pond any way you want. Larger pools are less vulnerable to the effects of algae growth, pollutants and quick temperature changes. The smaller the pool, the more precarious its ecological balance in which plant, fish and other animals interact to enable all to flourish. A small, shallow pool collects more heat, creating ideal growing conditions for algae. Your pond should be at least 18" to 3 feet deep and 8 feet in diameter or 7 feet square.
One section of your pool should be 3-4 feet deep if you plan on adding fish. The extra depth provides added protection from cats, birds and raccoons.
Slope the sides slightly at a 15 to 20 degree angle. Cut a 1 foot ledge beyond the rim for edging. Use a level to make sure that the pool rim is even all around. To provide a smooth bottom, remove any exposed, sharp objects and add a layer of damp sand and/or geo-textile material commonly known as underlayment.
Underlayment is used as added protection for the liner and helps to deter gophers from chewing through the liner. It is sold by the lineal foot and can be custom cut any length.
Position, anchor, finish
Position the liner in the hole, even out the wrinkles then anchor the edges with smooth stones or a small mound of dirt. Fill the pool with water. Cut the surplus liner leaving an overlap for the ledge. Edge the pond with bricks then fill the gap between the brick edging and lawn with gravel. Finish the edge with coping, such as flagstone, brick or wood decking. Allow the edging to overhang the pond 1 to 2 inches to protect the upper portion of the liner from ultraviolet rays (this precaution is not necessary when using Hypalon or EPDM rubber). The top surface of the edging should be level with the surrounding area. Leave the newly filled pond for one week before putting in plants or fish.
Submersible Filter and Pump
To help your water garden maintain itself, install a small submersible filter and pump. Water is recirculated underground from the pond to the top of the streambed back to the pond.
Run flexible vinyl tubing from the submersible pump's outlet to the highest point of the stair-stepped stream. Line the waterway with the flexible liner, concealing it with small stones. Each level should have a vertical drop of 6 to 12 inches.
You can duplicate the natural balance of a pond by growing a variety of aquatic plants. Water plants prefer still or slow moving water, so put them in the calmer areas of the pond. You can plant your aquatic flora by lining the bottom with about eight inches of rich soil compost.
Don't use leaf mold or manure because they give off gases that can poison the fish.
It is easier, however, to pot plants in plastic containers filled two-thirds full with heavy garden topsoil. Do not use commercial potting mixes.
Hollow out a planting hole with your hands. Set the lily tuber in the hole so that the crown or growing tip of the plant is just above the soil level. Plant your lily as soon as possible to prevent the roots from drying out.
Cover roots with additional soil, keeping the crown exposed. To promote blooming, poke one or more, depending on the pot size, time-release fertilizer tablets into the soil.
Cover the soil (not the crown) with a half-inch layer of pea gravel. Sink the potted lily into your pool so that the rim of the pot sits 10 to 12 inches below the water's surface as mentioned earlier. Floating plants can be placed anywhere on the surface. Plant sparingly because they will spread in time.
Plant some oxygenating plants such as water milfoil (Myriophyllum aquaticum) and waterweed (Elodea canadensis). These aquatic grasses improve growing conditions by absorbing carbon doixide from the air and releasing oxygen into the water.
Before the first hard frost, remove potted water lilies from the water garden and trim back plants to just above the soil line. Move pots to a cool, dark area and keep soil moist.
Add one to two inches of goldfish for every square foot of water. Fish prevent mosquitoes from populating a pond by feasting on the larvae. Include a few snails and tadpoles (if available) which feed on algae.
In the basic pool cycle, fish consume oxygen and release carbon dioxide, which in turn, is used by plants for photosynthesis. Plants emit oxygen and provide a spawning medium for fish, thereby helping control algae and mosquitoes. Waste products excreted by fish become nutrifying bacteria that nourish the plants. Scavengers such as snails, eat algae, pond debris and excess fish food, keeping the water clear and balanced.
TAKE PRECAUTION... even a small, shallow pond poses a safety hazard for a child. Children are naturally curious. Check your local building codes for specific requirements. Some cities require that pools must be fenced if exceeding a certain depth.