Pleasing to both the eyes and ears, garden water ponds are one of the most popular elements of backyards today. Whether you design an entirely new yard around the focal point of a pond, or add it to your existing garden, a pond will bring beauty and tranquility to your landscaping and your life.
There are two main ways to add garden water ponds to your backyard. You can hire a landscaping company to build one, which usually takes them half a day or less, depending upon the complexity. However, if you're the least bit handy, it's actually quite easy to build a backyard pond, and won't take you long at all!
You can find complete kits for garden water ponds as well as the individual components at retail garden centers. An even easier way to get your supplies is to shop online from the comfort of home and have your purchases delivered right to your backyard. Some sites even offer step-by-step instructions for building the pond.
If yard space is limited or your budget is tight, a third option to consider is a "tub" pond or large waterbowl. These "mini ponds" can be placed anywhere, even on the patio, and offer many of the same benefits as built-in garden water ponds.
Helpful tips for pond installation
First and foremost is location, location, location. Carefully consider the best place to put your pond before you do anything else. It's not a good idea to place it directly under trees, for obvious reasons. Most aquatic plants that produce colorful blooms grow best in full sun, but some shade is nice because it helps discourage algae growth. Scavengers like aquatic snails and tadpoles also control algae by cleaning up waste at the bottom of the pond.
Consider locating your pond where you can see it from your deck, but blend it in with its natural surroundings. Elevate the soil around the pond slightly so that excess water flows away from the pond. Landscaping around the pond provides a nice habitat for frogs and birds.
Good plants for garden water ponds
Adding plants is one of the most enjoyable aspects of having a pond, as well as providing visual appeal. However, balance is the key to success. A proper mix of all four categories of aquatic plants (free floaters, rooted floaters, submerged plants, and bog plants) ensures a thriving, self-sustaining ecosystem.
Free Floaters such as clover and water hyacinth protect baby fish, keep the pond cool and control algae growth by shading the water from direct sunlight.
Rooted floaters like the water lilly and lotus will cover the surface of the water and limit the amount of light reaching the depths of the pond, which holds algae growth in check.
Submerged plants are the oxygenators - a must if your pond is to be healthy and support fish. These "water weeds" slow the growth of algae, absorb excess nutrients that can cloud the water, and provide fish with food.
Bog plants include cattail, iris and bamboo. They grow naturally in mud or in shallow water, and need to sit in containers just below the water line.
Adding fish to garden water ponds
Fish bring movement into your pond and are fun to watch. They also help the ecosystem by eating mosquito larvae and plant pests, and fertilizing the plants. If you have a new pond, give your plants a month to get established before adding fish.
Hardy little goldfish called comets are the easiest fish to keep, especially in smaller ponds. They cause little damage to other fish or plants, and if they survive their first few weeks outdoors they'll likely live for several years, provided the water doesn't freeze solid in winter. Koi are also popular but they're a more active fish and need more room than comets. They are also more aggressive towards smaller fish, and like to graze on plants and dig in submerged pots.
In these times of stressful living, the serene sight of plants, fish, butterflies and natural landscaping, along with the calming sound of water trickling from a fountain, is a great way to relax.