Plants – Water Garden Plants

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Water Garden Plants
Water Garden Plants - Guide

Water features in the garden offer tranquillity, reflection and seem cool and refreshing. The magical sound of water, maybe running softly over pebbles, is also the best tonic for a tired and stressed mind, so synonymous with modern times. It is often wrongly assumed that a large garden is needed. Truth is personal taste, effort and available space only determines the kind of water garden, of which there is mainly five types. When designing your water garden, play with themes, from circular to romantic traditional, with pebbles or rocks, on sloping sites or the changing of levels, from natural informality to formal perfection. Let your imagination take over on design, texture use and atmosphere, making it yours!

  • Window box gardening
    is ideal for those living in flats and the smallest form of water gardening. Although the range of plants suitable for window boxes are smaller, one can still create a wonderful effect. Needed for this is a galvanised metal tank of 25cm wide and 20cm deep. Fitting perfectly in a wooden window box, the tank should be filled half with planting medium, and then water.

  • Tub water gardens
    are ideal for small gardens and are wonderfully transportable. A wine cask or a horse trough for instance, is ideal, although plastic or fibrecement will also be suitable. Fill the bottom quarter with a mixed layer of 1 part compost with a little bone meal added (or well rotted cow manure), and 6 parts fertile loam. Follow with a mixed layer of the same depth, consisting of 1 part compost and 3 parts fertile loam. End these layers off with 5cm of river sand, thus keeping the planting mixtures compact and down. Plant the container deep enough for the upper rim to be 2cm below the soil level, and use plants and pebbles to soften the look.

  • Marsh gardens
    are charming and possible for both small and large gardens. Start by clearing the site and acquiring the desired shape and depth of more or less 80cm. Ensure adequate draining off of excess water, by creating two outlets. Exclude any possibility of blocking the pipe, by covering the inside outlet with perforated zinc and prevent unwanted drainage by fitting a detachable handled tap to the end of the outside draining outlet. Follow with at least 20cm of gravel on the bottom. The next stage will be the 30cm layer of a growing medium mixture, consisting of 1 part compost, 1part river sand and 2 parts fertile topsoil. Additional height layers should consist of compost, river sand and fertile topsoil. Place stepping stones or flat-topped rock slabs so that their surfaces will be just above the eventual watermark. Let the water in and start planting!

  • Informal water gardens
    are also suitable for both small and large garden and can be enhancing to existing features.

    Start by levelling the site and designing the desired shape. Provide drainage outlets leading to suitable points, and placed correctly before building the floor and walls. Following is the floor and walls, which should be more or less 20cm thick.

    When building with brick,
    use 1part cement and 4 parts sand. Plaster with a mixture of water repellent, 1 part cement and 3 parts sand, to a thickness of 1cm.

    Alternatively, build with a dry mixture
    of 1 part cement, 2 parts crushed stone and 2 parts river sand. Mix with water until a manageable consistency. While layering the floor and until building the walls, keep all surfaces moist. When finished, apply water repellent to the cement surfaces.
    Exclude any possibility of blocking the outlet pipe by covering the inside outlet with perforated zinc, and prevent unwanted drainage by fitting a detachable handled tap to the end of the outside draining outlet.

    Using plastic sheeting
    can prove to be a fast and easy method, but only viable when using top quality. Ponds done this way are usually dug with sloping sides, instead of vertical. To buy the correct size of sheeting you need to double the depth of your pond, take this number and add it both to the width and length individually. After digging the hole, remove as much stones and provide a soft layer of sand, 3cm thick, to the bottom. While standing inside the pond, unfold the plastic liner and weigh the edges down with smooth stones on the outside of the pond. Let the liner take on the pond’s shape by slowly filling it with water, while tucking it into place where needed.
    Manipulate the water level, where not even, by adding sand beneath the liner. Trim liner to a 20cm overlap and cover with slabs overlapping the pond, stones and pebbles.
    Ensure no visible parts of the liner and keep the pool full at all time, ensuring the liner a longer lifespan.

  • Formal water gardens
    are mostly found in formal settings and may be raised for dramatic effect, or level with the ground surface. Its lines are uniform, often rectangles or squares and very attractive when, for instance, two or three are built at different heights, flowing into each other.

    The building is the same as for informal water gardens, except for the design of course.

    Note: The addition of a fountain is not always advisable, for most water plants requires still water.

    Although water gardening may seem like a lot of work and effort, manufacturers have made it easier for one to create these gardens. It is nowadays possible to buy instant installable ponds of fibrecement, cast concrete or moulded fibreglass, and install it within a couple of hours. Thus making it very easy to create tranquil corners with added pebbles and rocks, or even artificial streams, when placing a simple-to-install electric pump in the pond.

Pond planting…

Pond planting is a hands-on task and frequent pruning and cutting is essential. A pond should always have half free of vegetation, and its water always clear, with ample light.

The growing of oxygenating plants helps to keep the water clear, or additionally one can install an UV clarifier.
Also keep the water leaf-free; an easy method is to cover a garden fork with chicken wire or netting for easy scooping.

Replant every two years, or when necessary, by removing plants and placing in a tub of water, or with suitable coverage, cutting away dead growth and dividing where necessary.

Clean the pond thoroughly and fill again with water within 2 hours.
Clean plastic baskets and line with hessian.
Refill and plant with a fresh planting mixture of soil and manure, topped by a layer of gravel.
Lower and position the container into the pool with its soil level just below the water surface.


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