The Simplicity and Joy of Water Gardening
Part 1 – The Benefits and “Basics” of Water Features

What do you think of when you think of water gardening? Many have visions of beautiful, peaceful trickling water clouded by thoughts of endless maintenance, yucky water, algae, dead fish and sludge!

However, water gardening can be a lot of fun, really simple and low maintenance. Today I will share some of the benefits as well as some design basics of water gardening.

First, why should we care about water gardening? What are some of the benefits? A water garden can add much beauty to your existing landscape. The soothing sounds of water reduce stress. The water sounds can also mask unwanted outside noise so that it becomes not only a visual experience but also audible.
Do you have children or grandchildren? A water garden is a wonderful way to raise their interest in environmental and scientific issues. You can help them learn a respect for the earth early in life which can translate into a lifelong pursuit of an eco friendly life style.
Another benefit is improved air quality. Have you ever been around a large waterfall or remember the air after a great rain storm? The air feels so fresh! The negative ions released by moving water helps purify the air.
Water features are a great way to increase your wildlife community. Water is an attractive draw for butterflies, birds, tree frogs and dragonflies. Good for the wildlife and great for you!
Your water feature, along with other types of landscaping, can also increase the value of your home.
Last of all, water features can actually reduce your landscape maintenance. How is that?? Ponds actually need less water than the same square footage of lawn. Water gardening can be beneficial to us personally and to the environment.

Now that we see some of the benefits, what are some simple, easy ways to try out water gardening? A mini pond in a pot is great for small spaces such as front porches, decks and patios. There is a great selection of simple store fountains which are easy to assemble and use. A water garden in a barrel is a small ecosystem with low maintenance. Remember that bird’s love little mud puddles so even a small amount of water can have a great impact!

What if you decide a pond is the water feature for you?
Here are some design principles to keep in mind as you plan your water garden.

1. Bring the pond in close to your home and living spaces. It is not a good idea to put the pond way out in the middle of the yard or in the far corner of your property. The closer it is the more you will enjoy it on a daily basis.

2. Decide whether you would like a formal or informal water garden.

3. Avoid the lowest spot in the yard. Water run off will end up in the pond which upsets the ecological balance of the pond.

4. Avoid the mistake of making the pond too small. The smaller the pond the greater the maintenance that is involved in keeping the pond balanced. Remember we want our water garden to be fun and simple!

5. Arrange for the best view from inside your home. Even outdoor people spend 90% of their time at home inside.

6. Turn the waterfall toward your home. Not only will it be a great view but the sound will move through the home.

7. Keep the design simple…simple shape, simple waterfalls equal less maintenance.

8. Create a great reflection. You can use existing trees overhead or add interesting plants. A great way to try it out before you install your pond is laying a mirror in the area you want the pond and check out the reflection.

9. Decide what level of lighting you have or would like for the pond. This is important because ponds can do very well in heavily shaded areas but it will affect the type of plants you choose.

10. Wind protection is a consideration. You can either use a protected area or create one using plants. The wildlife also appreciates the additional cover.

11. BUDGET!! You may be able to phase your project but plan the large picture ahead of time. Design where the water garden, softscapes and hardscapes are going to be so that the end result will be harmonious.

Water gardening really can be easy and fun. Go ahead and get your feet wet with water gardening! Coming soon…Part 2- A Water Garden Ecosystem and Pond Building Blocks.

Next month we will share cool ideas for fall gardening including what to plant and how to get more color!

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