If you enjoy gardening and have a few days of your summer holidays to spend around home, may I suggest a new addition to your garden?
A small backyard pond, filled with colourful waterplants, can make a real impact in your landscape.
Water gardening is a popular trend. It can be as simple as a half barrel with submerged plants, or as elaborate as a large pond filled with fish, plants and fountains.
Just imagine some of the features that come with a pond: the beauty of colourful, self-sustaining flowers; the enjoymen of raising pet koi; and the reflective value and sound of water on a hot summer day. You can create these effects easily, and if you do it yourself, without a great deal of expense.
To begin, you must first decide how big a pond you'll need. It should be large enough to contain a variety of plants to provide lots of colour, pet small enough to be easily maintained. To be honest. most ponds require some maintenance. They should be cleaned once a year, unless of course it's a huge self-sustaining pond. Today, pool liners are the way to go. They offer a lot of advantages: they are treated to tolerate the sun; they are not harmful to fish; and they are easy to install.
The placement of your pool is important. The more sun, the better.
For optimum growth, most waterplants require at least five hours of sunlight per day.
The depth of your pond really depends on the type of plants you use; 60 to 90 centimetres would be a good range, especially if you will be using lilies and having fish.
Once you have smoothed the liner in place, begin filling the pond with water. Stay with it as it fills in order to smooth out all the edges.
When the pond is full, cut off any surplus liner, leaving a 60-centimetre flap around the perimeter. You can then place your edging stones on top of this flap for a finished appearance.
For a permanent display, hardy water plants should be used, unless you are prepared to bring tropical varieties inside for winter. Hardy lilies are the backbone garden ponds, but there is a multitude hardy bog plants which make all the difference to a finished-looking pond. Arrowheads, water auruns, bulrushes, catails, parrotfeather, and spike rushes are just a few of the many plants available. For the easiest care and maintenance, all should be placed in pots with heavy garden soil. They will, by the way, need to be divided every three or four years.
If you intend to include fish in your pond, vou should not only cover the soil with pea gravel to protect the roots, but also wrap the lower portion of each plant with fine plastic mesh to prevent excessive feeding.
To maintain water clarity, there are now many ways to deal with it, including the right sized pumps, filters and UV lights, as well as natural bacterial pond cleaners and pond clarifiers, like Microbe Lift, that really work and can be used with fish.
The traditional way of maintaining clarity is to use plants and scavengers. One bunch of submerged plants and one scavenger per square foot of pond surface should help with clarity problems. Cabomba and dwarf sagittaria are great as submerged plants, and snails or tadpoles are excellent pool scavengers. Incidentally. too many fish in a pond will cause the water to lose its clarity. The rule of thumb is: no more than 2.5 centimetres per 13.5 litres of water.
It takes a little time to absorb all these details, and a few books on garden pools will certainly explain the many facets of water gardening. The pond itself, how ever, can be established in a few hours. A garden pond will add a vibrant new dimension to any garden, and as I mentioned earlier, with the addition of water fountains for sound and fish for entertainment, ponds are wonderfully soothing and relaxing.