Compared with other types of
gardens, water gardens require a minimum of attention. There
is very little weeding, certainly no watering, and there are
fewer insects or diseases which attack the plants. Clear water
is usually the primary goal of any water gardener. In a new
pond, however, the water is seldom clear for very long. This
can be rectified easily if the pond is of the correct depth,
has a good filtration system, and correctly chosen plants and
wildlife are stocked in sufficient numbers. Given enough time
the new pond water will clear. During the summer, the level
of the water should be checked at regular intervals and brought
up to its maximum. The plants should be washed once a week with
a strong spray of water from a garden hose in order to dislodge
any accumulation of aphids which may have come to the pool.
If algae has become a nuisance, much of it can be washed down
the drain or over the sides of the pool by using the garden
hose and a rake. During the summer one should watch that other
plants such as the submerged aquatics do not grow too rampant
and take over the bottom of the water feature. Day-to-day care
of water garden plants during the summer is mostly a matter
of grooming. If there is an over-production of foliage, trimming
is necessary. All discolored or torn leaves or dead blossoms
should be cut and removed, stem and all, close to the roots.
The worst thing to do is change
the water. Replacing the water will only delay the developing
balance of the new pond's ecosystem. There are algaecides on the
market and even dyes to artificially color the water, but these
are only temporary solutions to a problem only nature can correct.
When fertilizing the lawn, take care not to contaminate the pond.
Any new nutrients introduced to the system will only prolong the
life of the algae or even start an algae bloom. Algaecides are
of dubious value as they kill the algae all at once instead of
the slow natural death rate that the pond ecosystem can handle.
When this happens, the microbial population of the pond begins
a massive degradation of the algae and in so doing uses all of
the oxygen in the pond. This will weaken the animal life in the
pond and possibly result in a fish kill.
In time the balance of the pond will shift
away from the green algae, and the plants will cover most of the
pond's surface denying light to the algae. The oxygenators and
other plants will eventually out-compete the algae for the available
carbon dioxide and soluble nutrients. Sometimes the pond will
suddenly clear overnight as the algae succumb and sink to the
Pumps should be pulled from the pond and
cleaned regularly. The filters may need weekly cleaning. The
interval will depend on your particular pond's ecology. The
filter should be checked weekly, and the pump inspected at these
times and records kept to build a history of your pond. This
is the best way to know what your pond needs and when.
The pool liner offers a greater degree
of flexibility than any other pool construction method, but
there is a potential for making mistakes at the marking out
stage. Defining the area to be excavated and ensuring that is
meets all practical and aesthetic requirements is a task that
should be carefully undertaken before the liner is purchased.
This will ensure that it will adequately line the excavation
without necessitating short cuts, which may have undesirable
long-term consequences. Liners should last without problem for
the time specified by the manufacturer if they are properly
installed and care is taken not to puncture them while walking
in the pond to service the plants, fish, and circulation system.
The edges of a pool are among the most
difficult aspects of the construction to finish off effectively.
The treatment applied can either make or mar the whole feature
aesthetically, and the manner in which it is achieved can have
a considerable effect on the longevity of the pool structure.
An ill-conceived edge, especially around a lined pool, can create
all manner of problems. Edging, if well designed and constructed,
should never need servicing. If the liner is installed and does
not allow water in under the edging materials, and the ground
underneath is firm, the stone or brick pond edging should give
no trouble. If the pond is edged by lawn edging or has no edge,
the main concern is to avoid contaminating the pond with lawn
fertilizers and pesticides.
As the leaves and flowers of the aquatic
plants die they should be removed. Watch the root balls and
leaves for damage by fish and insects. Once a year lotus will
need repotting in the south portion of Texas; in the north,
every 2 years.
While plants make the major contribution
to the appearance of the water garden, fish bring it to life.
They also play an important part in the ecology of the water
feature, feeding on aquatic insect life and depositing wastes
which ultimately will benefit the plants. The most important
role for decorative pond fish is the control of mosquito larvae
and damaging aquatic insects pests. Submerged aquatic plants
in the presence of sunlight absorb the carbonic acid gas produced
by fish and other aquatic plant fauna. Aided by the green chlorophyll
in their leaves, the plants convert this into nourishment and
produce oxygen which is dispersed into the water for the benefit
of the fish. Therefore, for the well-being of a water garden,
it is desirable to have reasonable and balanced quantities of
both fish and plants. Most people want to introduce fish to
the water feature as soon as possible. However, resist adding
fish to a new water feature for at least a month after planting
the last plants. The plants really need time to become established,
even if you are going to introduce small fish. Fish can be extremely
boisterous and may disturb freshly planted plants, especially
submerged plants, as they dig in the bottom of the water feature
looking for food. Once plants have been disturbed, it is very
difficult to re-establish them without emptying the water feature
and replanting the containers. So be patient and let the plants
become properly established before choosing fish. Ideally, you
should add only two or three at a time at two-week intervals.
In winter the pond slowly shuts down. Any
tropical species should be stored in the proper manner for each
plant. The fish have greatly slowed their intake of food and
their actions in the pond. They will need feeding only occasionally
in the south and not at all in the north where the ponds freeze
over for the winter. In the event that the pond should freeze
over, a hole in the ice must be maintained for the survival
of the fish. If the hole is not maintained there can be little
air/water gas exchange and the fish will die as they continue
to respire and use all of the oxygen dissolved in the water
of an ice covered pond. What kills the fish is the asphyxiation
by the noxious gases that are produced by decomposing vegetation
on the floor of the pool. A hole in the ice can be maintained
using any of the commercially available electric ice melting
devices specifically designed for use in pond situations. Never
use any device not manufactured specifically for that purpose.
Never hit the ice with anything to break it open. The force
from the blow will reverberate as shock waves in the pond and
kill the fish. This is one of the major causes of winter death
of fish in home ponds.
Another source of problems for the plants in
winter is the accumulation of fallen leaves that may blow into
the pond with every gust of wind. These and any dead fish should
be removed immediately.
You do not need to run pumps throughout the
winter as the fish need very little aeration and the algae are
not growing at this time. However, the algae will have a spring
bloom usually as soon as temperatures rise enough to heat the
pond to any depth. At this time the pump and filtration system
must resume its operation.