Water and Bog Gardens

Water adds a new dimension to any garden. Its ever-changing face reflects the open sky and the passing clouds, its surface ripples gently in the wind or is troubled by the playing of a fountain, while beneath the surface, in the translucent depths, the red, gold and orange gleams of goldfish flash as they move dreamily among the water-lily stems.

A water garden is such a distinct feature that its placing in the total garden plan requires considerable care. However, the needs of the pond itself do much to determine where it may and may not go. Water plants really need plenty of light to flourish, and so do fish. Rotting leaves from nearby trees make it all more desirable to site the pond away from trees, because rotting vegetation is likely to poison the fish. The natural position for a pond is at the lowest level of the garden so that the surface is always visible. Whether the pond is to be formal or informal, it is best to site it as a focal point in the garden. What shelter the water garden needs can be provided by the planting of tall evergreen waterside plants on the north side. Marginal plants will provide some shade as fish, although they need the light, do not like direct sun all day.

A picture of a pond in a residential garden.

Image via Wikipedia

Whether the pond is to be of geometrical shape or irregular in outline depends on the general garden design. For formal ponds, the oval or hexagonal may be just as pleasing as square, rectangular or round ones, and a pool in the shape of a cross would have a functional advantage for those who wanted to breed different types of fish in different parts of the pool, in that it would allow the arms of the cross to be partitioned off. The profile of the pool in depth may include ledges for marginal plants.

Depending on the size of the garden the water area should be as large as possible. Tubs or giant-sized plastic washing bowls might be used to make miniature water gardens for specialised purposes, such as growing a particular plant, but for all practical purposes size is important because most aquatic plants are rampant and nothing is worse than to see a pond overcrowded with plants with no open surface area to act as a background to the foliage and flowers and to give clear views of the fishes and reflections of the sky. In addition, the smaller the pool the greater will be the fluctuations in water temperature. 

The same considerations apply to depth. A shallow pond will make it difficult for the fish to escape excessive heat in summer or intense cold in winter. Certain aquatic plants will not grow properly in shallow water either. A considerable proportion of the pond should be at least eighteen inches deep, although if you are constructing ledges for marginals instead of supporting them on blocks in containers, parts of the pond may be half that depth.

The best time for constructing a plastic or composition lined pool is in the early spring, which will allow the plants to settle into the pool as they come into vigorous growth. However, for concrete ponds frost-free autumn weather is best, so that the finished pond may be filled with water and left over winter.-Fill and empty the pool several times over periods of several days so that any free lime from the cement, which would otherwise poison both plants and fish, is leached out. Then treat the concrete with a ‘curing’ solution which will prevent further lime from leaking into the pond. This period would also expose leaks which must be difficult to discover once the pool is planted and stocked. However, plastic and composition liners are now so reliable and durable that, unless there is some very special reason, it is really not worth the while of going to the far greater amount of labour involved in the construction of a concrete pool.

The shapes of formal ponds can be marked out using the same methods as those described for laying out flower beds. An irregularly shaped pool can be created by using a length of hosepipe to mark the shape: the hose can be laid in attractive curves. Pegs can then be used to stake out the design. When digging the hole, turf or soil around the perimeter of the future pool must be removed so that whatever form of edging is used it is level with the surrounding ground. Crazy paving or paving stones are generally laid so that the edges of the stone protrude slightly over the pool to hide its plastic banks. Gaps between the stones can be filled with paving plants or low-growing rock plants. Use a spirit level and boards to make sure that all edges are level.

07. September 2011 by admin
Categories: Garden Ponds, Water Features | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Water and Bog Gardens

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