Container Water Gardening – How to Make a Container Water Garden
Container Water Gardening Ideas
Containeris amazing. The container water garden pools are fun to plant up and stock, and it can be easier to see and appreciate their inhabitants at this level. Safer, too, as it is unfortunately easy enough to slide into surface-level pools when peering short-sightedly to see if the goldfish have survived the winter. They also have the great advantage of being portable. Almost all and can be transformed into pools, by installing an inner, water-proof container, liner or a coat of rendering and sealant. Polystyrene boxes would be particularly good for roof-top pools.
Remember, however, that if you intend to keepand sizeable waterlilies in your container pool, it should be not less than 45cm (18″) deep and have a surface area of 0.36 square metres (4 square feet). Any serviceable but ugly container can be prettied up with some kind of screening, such as a wall of sleepers or bricks. These can be laid dry, without nails or mortar, and can then be easily dismantled and moved if necessary. Laying the bricks in a honeycomb design would eke them out a bit, too.
Metal containers should be given two coats of rubber or bituminous paint inside and an exterior quality top-coat, over an appropriate primer, on the outside. Wooden containers can be lined with flexible plastic or PVC sheeting, stuck to the sides with rubber cement and a line of sealant run over the join. Tubs and half-casks make especially attractive pools. Sinks, of course, will need nothing more than a new plug, although they might look better if painted black or dark brown on the inside. Bricks and blocks can either be rendered and sealed given a liner.
You might consider making a raised container water garden pool against an existing wall, and this could be given a wall fountain to make it even more interesting. This could be as simple as an inverted roof or ridge tile or a shell, and as elegant as a wall mask from any of which the water can flow into the pool and from there and be returned to the fountain by a submerged pump and a hidden length of pipe. Hiding the pipe can be a problem. You can chase it into the wall and render over it, giving the rendering a coat of paint afterwards. If the wall has a cavity, it may be possible to work the pipe up inside this. A thin skin wall of tiles or paviors can be built across the piping, or some kind of ornamental object can be propped over it, such as a fireback, a plaque, a slab of stone or a large platter. Artfully trained plants could also disguise the piping.
You can make your own masks or plaques by taking a mould from any mask or ornamental feature that you can find. Coat the original with cling-film and oil this or smear it with soft soap or Vaseline. Then press it into a container of nearly-set plaster of paris. When this has hardened completely, remove the cast and return the original to its owner. You can cast your mask in cement to which you may wish to add some colouring, or in melted down oddments of lead which you find around the place: bits of stripped-out piping and electrical conduits, or strips of flashing from a renovated roof. Your plumber may save bits for you, although you might have to offer him some cash for them. If you have not added stainer to the cement, it can be painted afterwards either with liquid manure to tone it down or with some likely-looking colours, to resemble lead, copper, stone or terracotta.
Plant a container water garden or raised pool in the ways I described in Water Gardening Ideas, in a layer of loam covered with gravel. Alternatively, the plants can be placed on the bottom of the pool, in perforated containers – either the purpose-made ones obtainable at water garden centres or ones that you make yourself. Holes can be drilled or burnt through any plastic pot, or you can improvise containers from chicken-wire, lined with sacking or old nylon curtains, etc., and bent up round the plants and the loam. Decrepit wicker shopping baskets will do, too.
The problem in smaller pools, is to keep them free of algae. The small volume of water makes them susceptible, while chemical treatments would not be safe in such a tiny area. They will need some oxygenators, but these must not be too rampant or they will choke the pool. Vallisneria would be one possibility; you might lose it in a cold winter, since it is mainly used in indoor fish-tanks and is not hardy, but you could keep some going inside the house and replant it in the tub pool in late spring, when algal growth really becomes a problem. Otherwise you can plant hardy oxygenators if you are prepared to keep thinning them out.
Lilies suitable for container water gardening tubs and other small containers include pygmaea var. alba, ‘Helvola’, ‘Rubra’ and, in larger containers, N. x laydekeri ‘Rosea’, ‘Lilacea’, ‘Purpurata’ and ‘Fulgens’. The floating aquatic Hydrocharis morsus-ranae (Frogbit) would he good addition, too.
Remember to top the container water garden with gravel to prevent theclouding the water, and allow things to settle down for a few weeks before introducing the fish. Instead of a fountain, you might back the wall pool with a piece of mirror, thereby appearing to double its size and lead you on into vistas beyond.