The wonderful world of water

The trend has shifted from green gardens to water gardens. A Dyuti looks at the different types of water gardens and how to create one in your home.

If you’re amongst that tiny minority blessed with a natural stream or pond in the vicinity of your home, creating your aquatic garden is child’s play! You only need to spruce it up with aquatic plants, introduce fish and watch your water garden thrive! Maintenance is also minimal!

Construction

There are many kinds of artificial water features ranging from a little pond with one kind of aquatic plant, tubs or barrels of these beauties to sprawling pools with plants, waterfalls, fountains, rocks and ornamental fish!

Novices prefer smaller ponds which are easier to maintain. A spot is picked and dug up. It is then lined with concrete or ready made liners. If you want an earthen basin, ensure that the soil has a high clay content – this is quite inexpensive but there is a potential for seepage and consequent flourishing of wild plants. In the case of flexible liners, the ease of construction is eclipsed by the difficulties caused by possible punctures.

Fibreglass or plastic present a more durable option; their shallow depth makes them more suitable for plants rather than fish. Concrete guarantees a long lifespan for your water garden. It affords the opportunity to use decorative tiles too. The construction method depends on the budget and the type of water-feature you want – big/small, plants-only/plant-fish habitat, shallow/deep, type of plants, etc.

Water gardens can have different shapes, regular or irregular. The latter exudes a more natural look.

Usually, pool-sides are hewn into two-three tiers to hold liners in place, besides providing ledges for plants and other accessories. Decorate the interior with sand, gravel and rocks. Proper levelling is a must.

Location

Where must a water garden be located? As near the house as possible but away from natural vegetation, especially trees that shed leaves and necessitate frequent fishing of such debris with a net.

The garden should not sit over water-supply pipes or other utility features.

A stagnating and stinking water feature isn’t merely unsightly, it’s unhealthy. To keep it clean and alive, use filters and water pumps.

So while choosing a location, plan where these pumps and filters will be placed and how they will be concealed.

Sketch out the location of the electrical and water-supply lines required to provide lighting, working pumps or filters and activating fountains or waterfalls.

Rainwater run-off ferrying fertilisers, chemicals and organic debris must not flow into your pond. It is crucial to check whether the spot offers sufficient sunlight for the plants to grow?

Aesthetics

Make adequate arrangements for stepping stones, rock borders, walking bridges, flower gardens, teahouse, gazebo, fountain, waterfalls, rock-lined creeks and winding streams besides appropriate drainage. The water garden must be emptied annually – the mud must be cleaned and the flora and fauna must be restored.

Limit access to the water garden to ensure the safety of children and pets. Some seating arrangement is also needed for you to savour its beauty! Don’t cover more than half the surface with plants, the water must also be seen. Choose from submerged, marginal and floating water plants. Submerged plants like the water lily are usually placed in containers at about one to two feet below the water’s surface.

Marginal plants like the iris or lotus with only their roots under water and the rest above the surface are placed such that the pot’s top is just at the water’s surface level. Floating plants like water hyacinth aren’t anchored to the soil at all but float freely on the surface.

Algae are found in all ponds. But take care that they don’t clog the pond! Koi and goldfish are the most preferred water garden denizens. But, remember, koi feed on many plant species! Crustaceans (like freshwater prawns), snails and ducks are other fauna options. Your water garden will also attract frogs, lizards and humming birds. But, beware of fish predators like snakes and cats!

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