EASY WATER FEATURES
By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
Water gardening is one of the most exciting
aspects of gardening today. The sight and sound of running
water brings a magical, refreshing feel to the landscape.
With the modern pumps and filters available today, everyone
has the ability to bring water gardening into their lives
without great cost or effort. Many people are feeling
this lure to water gardening, but are not sure where
to start. Ponds and waterfalls are great fun and can
be fit into almost any garden. These water features may
be little more than some people want to tackle. People
who live where a water feature might be better located
on a deck or small patio, or where a pond or waterfall
is impractical might want to try a water tub garden.
Tub or container
water gardens are easy to construct, and can be placed
almost anywhere you wish to bring moving water. Put
these by the back deck, the front door, or close to
your favorite sitting area. All fountains are composed
of three basic parts: the reservoir, the pump, and
the fountain piece. The one requirement for running
water is electricity, so locate the tub water garden
near an electrical outlet. If you don’t
have electricity you can still have a water garden, just
without the running water.
The first step is to choose a reservoir
or container. The main requirement is the container holds
water. Many beautiful containers are now available without
drainage holes and are great for water gardening. Ceramic
and concrete seem to be the most popular materials. You
can also make them out of wood, metal, rock, or plastic.
Try to choose a container at least 8-12 inches deep,
or deeper. Twelve inches across or larger would be great.
The average size of tub gardens seems to be around two
feet across and one to three feet deep.
The pump is the heart of the water feature.
Nowadays they are very small and simply need to be placed
in the water and plugged in. Usually a small water feature
will use a submersible pump with a volume of between
60 to 140 gallons per hour. I have found that the small
magnet-driven pumps are relatively quiet, whereas some
inexpensive aquarium pumps have proved noisy and impossible
The key design element in every fountain
is the apparent water source or fountainhead. Stacks
of natural objects such as stones, or pottery pieces,
when the pump and hose are concealed, can seem to magical
pour forth with water. One of the most popular fountainheads
is a cylindrical spout fashioned from bamboo or copper
pipe. Clay jars, old watering cans, and old iron pumps
can be used as fountainheads. Many fountainheads are
already created and sold for immediate use. To connect
the pump to the fountain head requires a piece of vinyl
tubing that slips over the outlet of the pump while the
other end goes to where you want the fountainhead to
begin. The tubing is inexpensive, so buy extra, and cut
it with scissors.
To finish the tub
garden, water plants are placed in the tub, while still
in the containers they came in. This way you can remove
them to prune or fertilize, or just change out one
type of plant with another. Water hyacinth, a free-floating
un-containerized water plant, should be placed in the
tub. Its roots help to absorb nutrient in the water
that attracts algae. Small goldfish can also be added
to the tub garden. Put only a couple in, and avoid
feeding them. They will eat small microorganisms, algae
cells, and bits and pieces of mater you can’t
see. This way they wont grow too big, breed excessively,
and leave too much waste mater, which helps in the
formation of algae.
These small water
features are a fun way to introduce yourself to water
gardening. You might find that with the successful
completion of this water garden you might want to build
a larger pond or waterfall. Even if you don’t
want a larger pond, these small tub gardens are great
focal points for your garden and will vastly increase
the enjoyment of the garden they are part of.