Water Gardens

Water makes an attractive feature in the garden because it is always moving. Even a slight breeze will ripple the surface of a still pool, while a waterfall creates a visual delight.

Water can be used in contrasting ways, either formally or informally. In a small town garden a formal rectangular pond looks most effective edged with square paving. Suitable planting can add height to avoid too ‘flat’ a look. Should you be fortunate enough to have a natural source of water in your garden, note the way in which it behaves before deciding to incorporate it in your overall garden design. For instance, in mid-winter a natural pool may be full of water, but in summer it may be just a dry hollow. The cause may be


The level of any natural water will, of course, determine the style of garden design; and with natural water too, the shape of a pool will often be determined for you. Shape is also decided in advance if you use the prefabricated glassfibre pools which are readily available. These have many advantages for the small garden, tending to be on the small side themselves, and have an estimated life of about ten years. But they also tend to constrict your design as available shapes are not very varied.

Informal pools or ponds are usually edged with broken natural stone to hide the pool liner or cement, while plants grown at the side of the pool are designed to Hop over the stone and disguise any severe lines. Remember that geometric shapes tend to produce formality; irregular-shaped ponds are more informal.

A more formal style of pool requires more detailed construction and there are certain steps to be followed. The diagram opposite gives you the basic ones. A great advantage today is the use ol’ butyl, rubber or plastic liners, which save the chore of creating a concrete pool. Concrete may be more prone to leakage unless really well constructed but offers you the advantage of overflow and outlet pipes. Think through the mechanics of managing control of water before construction begins. If you want to have a waterfall, for example, particular thought must be given to use of a circulatory pump for the return of the water. You would be well advised to seek professional advice before starting work.

It must be remembered that water freezes in winter, so any equipment likely to be damaged by severe weather should be buried at least 40cm (16in) beneath the surface of the ground or be in a position to be removed for winter storage.

A water course of descending pools is a lovely sight but tricky to construct and maintain. Only consider installing one if you are yourself a very skilled handyman or are employing a professional landscape architect.


Consider carefully the planting of a pool. If, for instance, a rectangular pool is to be viewed from one of the narrow ends, do not plant it so as to obscure the far end: put the taller subjects at the back rather than in the foreground, much as you would when planting a border.

The edges of a more informal pool or pond can include a bog garden, where plants such as hostas, astilbes, iris and the like enjoy having their roots in water. If you have a simple pool, without running water, make sure the level is kept topped up during hot spells in summer. Dead leaves must be removed in autumn and when the pond needs a thorough cleaning-out, all the plants should be removed and temporarily placed in a bucket of water in order to remove all the accumulated rubbish.

Keeping fish is an attractive idea to many water-gardeners, but fish must be given plenty of space and oxygen to keep healthy. Oxygen is supplied by oxygenating plants and by movement of the water. In winter, oxygen will be denied to the fish when the water is frozen. A simple remedy is to keep something floating on top of the water to hinder ice from forming. If ice does form, never break it sharply, as the shock can kill the fish; it is better to melt a hole gently with boiling water from a kettle.

Herons are very fond of pond fish and may well visit your garden. It may be necessary to stretch a net across the water to prevent the birds from taking your fish; the same net will deter cats which also like to lift tasty fish dinners out of pools.

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15. May 2013 by admin
Categories: Featured, Garden Management, Top Tips | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Water Gardens


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