Envionmental Psychology

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Create a Great Water Garden

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

Connect with nature in your private water garden.

Among the latest new trends in gardening, the water garden, combines elements such as waterfalls, ponds, and fountains, often enhanced by intricate rockwork, elaborate lighting, specialized plants, and exotic fish. There are gardens to fit every budget, as well. All you need is something that will hold water to use as your garden's centerpiece.

The placement of your water garden is your most important decision. You'll want to choose a spot that gets as much sunlight as possible, generally away from trees or bushes that shed their leaves, because most plants and fish require a fair amount of sunlight to thrive, and deciduous trees and shrubs can make keeping your water element a chore in the fall.

You're only limited by your budget, the size of your space, and your imagination, but always bear in mind that your water garden will require a certain amount of maintenance, which you'll have to do if you want your garden to continue to look great. If you incorporate fish into your garden scheme, they'll also need to be fed as part of your routine maintenance program.

If you use aquatic plants in your water garden, only cover about half the surface of the water. It will allow you to see your ornamental fish underneath. You may also want to plant flowers around the edge of your pond, and there are some plants that will actually add oxygen to the water, which is important, especially if you have fish in your pond. Fish can help keep the pond clean by eating insects.

Algae is one of the primary problems encountered by water gardeners, and it's often brought about by over fertilizing water plants or feeding fish too much or too often. For many years, people in England have used barley straw to help reduce the amount of string and filament type algae, but it may not work in every situation. If you experience algae problems--and you probably will--pay close attention to the feeding regime of both your fish and your water plants.

To keep your water oxygenated and fresh, you'll need a pond pump and filter, which can also help reduce insect and algae problems. Water plants also remove nutrients from the water that could create pollution problems. Some good plants include water hyacinths, water violets, and water crowfoot, if you bear in mind that they tend to reproduce vigorously and can quickly take over a pond.

Like all gardens, water gardens require a certain amount of care, but the results can give you years of pleasure.

Copyright 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

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