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Creating a Natural Water Garden

Last Updated Nov 7, 2012 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald

There is nothing like the serenity and beauty of a water garden.  They provide an intense feeling of relaxation which is important in just about anybody’s life these days! The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you have a large backyard or just a balcony, you can create a gorgeous natural water garden all of your own.  Here’s what you need to know.  For more information, have a chat with your local gardening professional or visit our garden feature section.

What is a Water Garden?

Before you can create a water garden, you first need to know what one is.  Essentially, it is just a type of water feature that is filled with aquatic plants and fish and that may also incorporate statues, ornaments, waterfalls, fountains and other features.  Water gardens can be as small or as large as you like – use them to enhance your existing garden or turn your entire garden into an aquatic wonderland; it’s up to you.

Types of Water Gardens

If you’re interested in creating a water garden, you might be wondering what types you have to choose from.  Some of the most popular options used in backyards and gardens include:
  • Container water gardens – these are contained within a pot or series of pots and they are small and portable, making them perfect for patios and balconies.
  • Ponds and pools – these are built directly into the ground of your existing garden and they can be completely sunken into the ground or raised partway up, depending on your preferences.
  • Bog gardens – these are incredibly natural looking!  Just dig out part of the ground, line it with plastic and fill with some aquatic plants and fish.  They’re great for attracting wildlife as well.

Building a Water Garden

Once you have chosen the water garden you want, it’s time to actually build it!  This is a relatively easy process with the steps being fairly similar for all types of water gardens. The first thing to do is to pick a site and excavate it to the depth that you need (or choose the size of the pot!). You then need to waterproof it so that it holds water in and you can do that by applying a waterproofing membrane to the pot or by lining the excavated hole with plastic or a pond liner.  For a pond or pool, you may want to add some edging.  This is also the stage where you add any water features (waterfalls etc) if you want them.

Now that most of the structural work is done, it’s time to add the water! The next step is to add the plants, and you should try for a good combination of aquatic plants. Generally, you’ll want to use a combination of submerged plants, marginal plants, and floating plants.Submerged plants are important to oxygenate the water and to provide protection for fish, and a great example is pondweed. Marginal plants go around the outside of the water garden and some examples are waterlilies and lotus. Floating plants float on the surface of the water and are not rooted at all, and one example of this is the water hyacinth. Once the plants are added, you can add the fish. Koi and goldfish are the most popularly used but there are some other fantastic species as well. Don’t be surprised if you find frogs and snails in your water garden, as they’ll happily make it their home! You can even browse through our Garden Design Ideas page to find a water garden that is just right for you.
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