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About Water Gardening
The sight and sound of water has always drawn the interest of people and adds an appealing element to a garden. Water gardens can include fountains, waterfalls, small ponds and elaborate combinations of rockwork and lighting. Basically a water garden is just a pool of water that is home to plants and possibly fish and other water creatures. Natural ponds or large spaces are no longer needed to enjoy water gardening as the garden can consist of a concrete dish, half barrel, plastic tub or anything else that can hold water.
The most important consideration in water gardening is to choose the right spot. Most aquatic plants and fish need plenty of sun so a site that gets 6-8 hours of direct sun is best. Choose a site away from tall shrubs and trees for best light and to prevent the accumulation of leaf debris. Plan your water garden using some basic principles. Consider the size of your property and the ability to maintain the water garden. A container on a deck may be all that is needed to add just the right feature for your space. Features like waterfalls, rockwork, lighting and fountains depend on your budget, style of your landscape, and purpose of the garden pond.
When choosing aquatic plants, keep in mind that the plants should cover no more than 50 - 60 percent of the water surface. There are many types to choose from. Some are free floating while others are marginals or submerged. Selection depends on the size of the pond and the kind of look you want. Water lilies can add drama and fragrance even in small tubs. Some plants provide oxygen and help keep the pool healthy. Fish can be a beneficial addition because they are good scavengers cleaning up any debris. They also can help control mosquito larva and other insects.
Plants for the Pond
Plants available for use in water gardens are many. Choosing these is a pleasure but there are certain considerations to be taken into account. Most considerations, such as water depth, amount of sunlight and how each species relates to its surroundings should have been considered during the design phase. Floating leafed and submerged plants are necessary for a healthy pond and must be included in your selection.
Floating leafed plants
Usually water lilies. Plant enough to cover 50 to 75 percent of the surface area of the pond or approximately one for every 10 square feet of surface area (there are dwarf varieties for barrel gardens). Floating leafed plants will cover the surface of the water to a point that will limit the amount of light reaching the depths of the pond thus holding algae growth in check. Water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) are of two types - tropical and hardy. Tropical water lilies in turn are divided into day and night bloomers. Hardy water lilies are all day bloomers.
Submerged plants are the oxygenators of the pond; a must if your pond is to be healthy and support fish. Roots of these plants are not used for nutrient or water uptake but for anchorage so oxygenators may be potted in gravel. Submerged plants should be stocked at a rate of one bunch per 2 square feet of surface area, in groups of 6 to 12 per pot depending on the size of the pot. Caging these pots is often advisable if the pond is to contain fish which tend to forage on submerged plant foliage.
Free floating plants
Free floating plants, though not absolutely necessary, add the finishing touch to a natural appearing water garden. These plants move with the breeze and produce an ever changing appearance for the pond. Functionally, they add to the oxygenators and produce varying casts of shadow that the pond owner and the fish will appreciate.
Bog or marginal plants
Though most are not grown for their flowers some bog plants offer help for those unable to site their pond in sufficient sunlight for the majority of water lilies. Some plants can tolerate as little as three hours of direct sunlight. Some grow best in constantly moist to soggy soils while others actually grow in standing water. There are many different species of bog plants with varying heights, textures and colors to their foliage.