Planting a Garden Pool: Creating a Natural Balance

Creating and maintaining a balance within the pool is the most important aspect of water gardening. Sadly, it is the one that is least understood. One needs no specialised scientific knowledge before bringing about a satisfactory natural balance. Common sense is the prior requirement, together with the application of a rough and ready formula which in a fairly short space of time will produce the desired result.

One should regard a pool as a miniature underwater world. In this it will be seen that livestock, such as fish and snails, deplete the water of oxygen. Yet the gaseous and organic products yielded by this livestock are necessary to maintain plant life. During their natural processes plants release oxygen, the submerged ones obviously doing so in the water and thus providing a lifeline for the fish and snails.

Unfortunately, natural balance is not quite so easy as this, although the cycle just described is an essential part of it. Water that is rich in mineral salts and exposed to full sunlight soon becomes alive with algae. These are primitive plant forms and vary from the filamentous kinds, like blanketweed and silkweed, to the suspended varieties that create a green bloom or pea soup-like effect in the water. The coarser filamentous kinds invade and choke desirable aquatics, while the suspended varieties obscure light from submerged plants and retard their growth. Although technically plants, their presence in quantity does little to ensure fresh healthy water.

To create a balance in which their presence is negligible and the water bright and clear, it is necessary to assess our armoury. Obviously by reducing the amount of light falling directly into the water, algal growth will be reduced. To ensure that this does not hamper the submerged oxygenating plants as well, no more, but not much less than one-third of the surface area should be covered by foliage. Floating plants can provide much of this, although it must be realised that waterlilies can contribute significantly with their floating pads.

The battle beneath the surface is fought by the submerged plants. Being more advanced forms of plant life, they compete with the primitive algae for mineral salts in the water. If present in sufficient numbers they starve the algae out and thereby ensure clear water. A generous bunch of plants to every 0.093 square metres of water surface area ensuring reasonable success from the beginning.

Of course, creating a correct balance by planting the various components in sufficient numbers does not ensure clear water and harmony from the start. Remember that algae, being primitive forms of plant life, grow and reproduce rapidly. Therefore, they will invade a pool quickly and only be reduced gradually as the intended pool plants become established. The period of time that this takes varies considerably, but may be as little as four weeks or as long as ten weeks. If green or unhealthy conditions persist beyond this time, then the balance cannot be in order and the cause must be investigated. Even if correct at the beginning, plant deaths can have a significant effect upon the balance, and replacements should be made as and when necessary.

30. July 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Gardening Ideas, Water Features | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Planting a Garden Pool: Creating a Natural Balance

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