Wednesday, June 26, 2013
So... You Wanna Build a Water Garden?
Water gardens are ridiculously easy to grow. You practically have to try to mess them up. Trimming the plants back in the fall and mucking it out in the spring (that's a really gross chore, actually) is all of the maintenance it requires. I used to think a water garden had to have hundreds of dollars of electrical gear to maintain it. And believe me, there is no shortage of that stuff on the market! Leaf skimmers, UV filters, regular filters... it's a little crazy. Not to mention all of the chemicals you're supposed to dump in it. But, to be honest, I've just let them be for the most part and they get along quite well without me.
Water gardens attract and nourish local wild life. We usually always have tadpoles in the spring, and a resident bullfrog. The birds can get a bath or a drink of water, the squirrels, ground hogs, raccoons, you name it. And if we're lucky, we can see this once in a while! There's always snails and sometimes even leeches, water striders, dragon flies and other fascinating visitors.
I've built a few water gardens and I've lost count which one I'm on. So I'll start at the beginning.
The landlord said I could remove it if I put something better in it's place. So I decided to make a little pond.
I dug the hole, and then I dug up rocks from the very back of the yard. Actually, where I got the rocks was between the backyard and a creek that was owned by the city. So the city probably owned the rocks. I didn't think they would be missed. They were well underground and needed to be dug out. I also got my first liner for much less than was expected. I hadn't realized until much later that the store had it mismarked and they charged me for weed barrier. What should have cost me $60 was only $11. Like I said, I didn't know this until a year later.
I put a small ten dollar pump in it to keep the water moving since it had no plants at first.
I collected wild plants from the creek area, including bulrush and cattails. Visiting my local lake yielded some nice finds too, with a bit of duckweed. I had hoped to find water lilies in the wild, but no luck. I purchased one from Walmart for $4.89.
The photo on the right is my first pond, which cost me less than $30 dollars - just from being resourceful, working really really hard and getting very lucky.
But if you're a ponder, you'll understand why this wasn't quite enough. You see, ponders always want bigger, better and more elaborate.
I wanted a bigger pond!
She agreed to accept a large painting of her pond. I'm glad she did, that liner cost her $80 to ship to me! She also included some starts of some plants. Some of them made it, like the pretty soft pink grapefruit lily and the purple irises, and others didn't really like the weather up here. She was from Florida. Her painting took me a year and it's really quite large. But it was such a labor of love, let me tell you!
Thanks to her I was able to double the size of the pond. I used my old liner to put in an upper tier.
I was building stuff from pallets before Pinterest made it cool! :D
The only cost for this was the cost of supplies for the painting and the shipping - all of which totaled less than $10.
I quite loved the pond after this and continued adding found plants around the perimeter and at one point, we bought a wooden and metal bench from a yard sale for $5. Here are some pictures!
I built this little arbor from branches I found in the woods behind the yard.
Each year I have to pull them up and cut back the roots and stems and repot them. If left alone, the roots would matt up all over the bottom of the liner.
I am able to take some rather nice photos, though!
It was nice while it lasted!
I laid the liner out to dry before folding it up.
But there were some problems with this. The pump required to run the waterfall was a power hog, so we didn't run it very often and dirt would pool up in the filter, clogging it. The pump sucked... literally and metaphorically. It was always breaking down and needing to be fixed. It leaked a lot, too.
No one ever saw the pond except for me, on days when I chose to walk all the way to the back of the yard and sit by it. And without any shade, I never wanted to! After three years, I decided to move it again.
One day, I hope to build a second one on the other side of the porch so that it looks like the porch is sitting on top of a singular pond.
This hole wasn't quite so difficult to fill in, since I could backfill the dirt that I had dug out of it in the first place.
You can build a water garden out of so many things! They can be large, medium sized (like the ones I've shown here), or they can be as small as a pretty bowl with some gravel in the bottom and lily growing out of it.
You can visit Garden Web's Pond and Aquatic Plants forum to get a lot of advice and see some really amazing ponds!
There are many books that you can buy or check out from the library, as well.
Do you have a water garden? I'd love to hear about it!