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Preparing your site for a water garden

by dig the dirt editor

Weather you are creating an in-ground water garden, or creating one that is free standing, you will need certain things to make this successful.

about water gardening | read more about water gardening |preparing your site
creating your in-ground water garden | creating a tub water garden
packing and unpacking | planting and stocking your water garden
care tips | winterizing | troubleshooting |  index


Stocking requirements:

Remember: you're creating an aquatic ecosystem!

1. Cover 60 to 70% (more for small ponds, less for large ones) of water surface with floating plants, such as water lilies.
2. Stock one bunch of submerged plants per square foot of pond surface area for ponds to 100 square feet. Add one bunch per two square feet for ponds over 100 square feet.
3. Stock scavengers at the same rate as submerged plants above.
4. Stock up to 1" goldfish per 5 gallons of water.


Container requirements:

  • Use heavy plastic planting containers without holes so soil does not leach into your water.

Sun requirements:

  • The pool should receive approximately 4 to 6 hours of full sun daily; morning sun is best.

Water requirements

  • Your water garden requires a minimum water depth of 14 inches for plants and fish.
  • Before adding fish, make sure your pond is rid of chlorine and other chemicals used to treat municipal water supplies and any harmful parasites and bacteria.
  • Treat with a product made to neutralize these chemicals and kill harmful organisms.
  • Anti-parasitic treatments are still necessary even when introducing only scavengers (tadpoles and snails) into your pond.

Soil requirements:

  • Aquatic plants require a heavy garden soil. Do not use commercial potting mixes.
  • Water lilies typically require 7.5-19 quarts of soil for success.
  • If you have a larger pond and want super-vigorous growth, try using 30 quarts or more.
  • Medium and large lilies will appreciate the extra room and will give you extra seasons of blossoms before you'll need to divide them.

Location requirements:

  • Avoid locating your pool under or near deciduous trees. Decomposing leaves absorb oxygen from the pool water; oak leaves are particularly toxic.
  • If this is unavoidable, clean the leaves away as they fall or cover your pond with a nylon net when trees are dropping their leaves.
  • Do not locate near storm drainage areas; this would allow ground water to enter the pool.

Power supply requirements

  • An electrical outlet near your pool is necessary to supply power to your pump, pond de-icer and/or lights.



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