How would you convince someone, like Nan at Gardening Gone Wild, that they just couldn’t survive another growing season without water in the garden? Oh… I’m not talking rain water which she would dearly love! I am talking water features like ponds, waterfalls or container gardens.
Mm… yes, I have a tiny pond I could tell her about but first I’d much rather share some of the photos I have taken for reference over the years at shows and on walks. Here goes Nan - perhaps you might like to pour yourself a coffee and turn up your speakers as here are some of the reasons I love water in the garden!
Mm... what do you think - tempted to add water now?
Okay… I here you say ‘but ponds/pools require maintenance – are they worth the bother?’ True, they do need managed but when this is done correctly that isn’t so bad. The positive benefit to mood in the garden far less the value to wildlife, and the opportunities you will have to see it, outway any negatives.
The smallest water feature in my garden allows me to see birds bathing and drinking. It is a very simple large grey plastic plant pot saucer with some blue grey pebbles on the bottom. It is positioned on the ground under a small pine tree in a border with ground cover plants around it. This area is partially shaded and it doesn’t need topped up too much. I also have a free standing bird bath which you can see in the opening image of my Sept GBBD video. I love watching the raindrops break circles on its surface. Simple yet at the same time quite magical.
What nobody wants to see is the green pea soup water in a pond or pool. Through reading the posts for this Design Workshop you will know how important plants are in the water to keeping it clear. As Nan is in America and I am in Scotland I will let others give plant suggestions. However, I am guessing they will include some sort of oxygenating plants which would apply to any country.
A pump and perhaps a pond filter (in cases of large ponds with fish) helps keep the water clear. I have a small pump in my tiny pond but I switch it off during the winter. I know some people may remove the pump completely but I don’t know if that is necessary – maybe others do? Barley straw is another simple and natural way to help keep the water clear and is one of the suggestions that the RHS here in the UK suggests you might find their advice for algae in ponds interesting.
Choosing the best position for a pond is one of the first keys to its success. Generally speaking you should choose a sunny position away from overhanging trees. Of course that isn’t always where you have space for it. A small pond is likely to overheat in hot days and that causes algae problems so you should bear that in mind too. My pond is tiny and is in a mostly shady spot only getting early morning sun. I have wonderful mosses growing over the sandstone rocks I choose to edge it with.
The surface of your pond large or small should also be partially covered. The RHS suggests that you should ‘Aim to have at least one third of the pool's surface area covered with oxygenators or other aquatic plants. If you have fish or are considering adding fish to your pond it also suggests you should ‘Avoid over-stocking with fish, which produce nutrient-rich waste.’ All pretty sound advice I would say.
So what advice would I give? Well, throughout the year I’d regularly go fishin in my pond and I would recommend that for any invasive plants. Blanket weed, if I have a problem with that, I usually remove by twisting a cane round and round and pulling it up like candyfloss being made at the Fair. However, at the moment the leaves are about to fall of the trees. Windy days are more common and even without and overhanging trees you could get leaves blown into your pond. I try to remove as many out as possible but I do get a clue if any are still there by the oily surface on the top of my pond. Oh yes... and would regularly top up my bird baths with fresh water.
Finally, if you are still in doubt about adding a pond/water to your garden I’ve links two more of my back posts for those who may have missed them. They show the wildlife I discovered on a visit to a nature reserve in the summer and the unlikely wildlife couples I saw when doing my own pond watching during the evening. Oh yes… ponds have interest at night too!
Sorry, there are lots of links in this posting but water in the garden is a huge subject and I have only made ripples in it. Sorry couldn’t resist that! So what do you think Nan? Have I convinced you, or anyone else, that water is just great to have in the garden and well worth any efforts to look after it?
The photos in the video slide show above were taken in the last 8 years.