Water Gardening Ideas – Water Features and Water Garden Ponds

water garden ponds

Once your water garden pond is sound, watertight and discreet, you can turn your attention to its surroundings. Remove the cement rocks or unsightly garden gnomes – they can be reduced to hardcore.

If the pool is an irregular shaped one, replace these rocks with turf, gravel, pebbles, small boulders, hunks of local stone (if there is one) and then plant boldly round and between these in an imaginative  fashion.

For more formal water garden ponds, make a firm (and when I say firm I do mean firm), handsome coping of whatever materials you prefer: slabs, bricks, tiles, railway sleepers, deckings, etc. Remember that, inevitably, the coping will be stood or sat upon. Surround it with level grass, paving, gravel or whatever.

Those of us who don’t have any water in the garden, tend to lust after it like parched travellers. This is where the imagination has to come into play and water gardening ideas are essential – as even the smallest plot or balcony can provide space for some kind of water; there are plants, including Water-lilies, that will grow in a few inches of water. A tub, a sink, pot or bowl, even a window-box, all could be pressed into service. Apart from money, there is only one thing that should restrain your enthusiasm or ingenuity: the presence of children or the disabled. For the latter, some form of raised water garden pond or wall-fountain would solve the problem of them tripping over and into low or surface-level pools, yet they would still be able to enjoy most of the pleasures of water gardening. Anyone, who is blind would especially appreciate the sound of moving water and the scent of Water-lilies.

Safety for Children

Children, however, will be quite capable of climbing up and into a raised water garden pond, and even into a tall water-butt. They will be drawn, irresistibly, to such a challenge, in fact they have been known to drown in a few inches of water. I believe that small children exhale automatically when they hit the water, which leaves them with no natural buoyancy. If your garden is used by small children, whether your own or visitors’, you will have to work out some method of making any existing water features safe for them.

For larger water garden ponds and streams, some kind of fence must be erected to keep the children away from the water. You could make these fences yourself, from skip-timber, hurdles or from wire (or plastic) netting, nailed to posts. For a smaller pond, there are several solutions. One is to nail mesh to a wooden batten frame which can be placed over the pool. This is not particularly beautiful but at least the life of the pond can carry on undisturbed. Rather more attractive would be a strong wooden trellis, and another possibility is a panel of cast or wrought iron, or a section of railings rescued from the scrapyard. Only today I saw a beautiful iron grating cover  – about 180 x 120cm (6ft x 4ft)  – fit any of these and the Water-lilies will, at a pinch, flower beneath them, taller plants will grow up through them and the fish won’t give a damn, but will carry on about their business in their usual inscrutable way. The protection can stay there until the children have grown to the age of discretion.

Yet another solution is to empty the water garden pond and use it as a sandpit for a few years. Alternatively, the pool can be filled with gravel or cobbles up to or just below the surface (making sure there are no sharp edges to damage the pool – if in doubt put a protective layer of plastic down first), and container-grown plants can be placed. Amongst the stones. If there is a submersible pump in the pool, it can be given a protective cage, so that it may carry on pumping: a jet of water can spout up from the pool or burble charmingly through and over the stones. Again, all this can be dismantled when the children are older, unless you have become so fond of the effect that you decide to leave it as it is.

In the unlikely event that you might find an old millstone or grindstone lying about, this could be placed across the water garden pond supported on bricks if necessary, with the pump underneath, to send water bubbling up through the centre hole. Any leftover bits of pool can be filled up with cobbles, as before. If you like this idea but haven’t stumbled over any unwanted millstones in the shopping precincts recently, you could make something along the same lines from concrete, poured into a circular shuttering which you have made from skip timber. Smear the inside of the shuttering with soft soap or Vaseline so that it doesn’t stick to the concrete. The marks of the shuttering will give an interesting texture to the ‘stones’. If the first one turns out a treat, you might be inspired to make various others in different heights and widths, so that your water garden pond would be part fountain, part abstract sculpture.

Water Gardening Ideas

Those of us less encumbered can let rip within the limits of our budget and our space. From a shallow mirror-pool, reflecting one Hosta and an antique urn, to an ambitious scheme that fills your entire plot, the choice is yours. For the larger, more grandiose schemes, some expense will be inevitable. Even if you don’t cost in your own labour and that of anyone you can press-gang in to help, the materials alone will soon add up to quite a sum, unless all of them can be scavenged. You could, of course, stagger these costs by spreading the work over some months or even years.

If you are gardening on clay, you could, I suppose, try to construct a pool by the old way known as puddling; the basic material being free, you would only have your spare time to spend. The dew ponds were made in this way, but it is, I think, only practicable for a smallish pool. A shallow basin-shaped hole is excavated (to about 60cm (2ft) at its deepest part) which should have sloping sides and a deeper depression in the middle. A thick layer of straw is spread over the surface and a layer of soot placed over this to discourage worms from burrowing through the clay. Then a final coat, of clay, which should be at least 15cm (6″) thick, is spread over the pool, kneaded into the straw, puddled down and smoothed over. In theory, the dew will condense on the cold clay walls and trickle down to fill up the pool.

If the puddled pool works, you will be awash with pride and perhaps dew; if not, you could turn it into a bog garden, a sandpit or still have your pool by draping black polythene over the hole and decorating its margins in the usual way. Whatever happens, you will have had hours of thoroughly satisfactory mud-play which can only have been therapeutic.

If you have neither clay nor enthusiasm enough for such a water gardening project, you are left with a choice between building a concrete pool, fitting a rigid or flexible liner pool, making your own fibreglass pool or utilising some container that you have about the place, or can `rescue’, such as a sink, a bath or a tub. Obviously, if you can find such a container, this will be the cheapest of water garden ponds of all.

05. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Gardening Ideas, Water Features | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Water Gardening Ideas – Water Features and Water Garden Ponds


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