Just because you don’t have a big yard, or a yard at all (if you’re an urban gardener), doesn’t mean you can’t have a water garden! And designing one is not as difficult as you might think. In this section, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to set up a small water garden, including
- What container to use and how to seal it.
- What plants and fish to buy and how to introduce fish to your water garden.
- How to make the water safe.
- What sort of shade/sun requirements to consider.
- What oxygenating plants adjust the nitrogen levels in your water feature.
- How to control algae.
- Surface, marginal, and bog plants to buy.
- Wintering over your water garden.
- Online resources for water garden supplies.
In other words, here you’ll learn all you need to know to set up a container water garden and enjoy it all season.
Some Do’s and Don’ts
Weight is an issue. You don’t want to overweight your balcony or roof, so be very aware of the tolerances if you’re planting in these sites.
But though small water gardens may not suitable for balconies, they can fit right in with other deck or patio plantings. I’ve used water features in several places, such as along the walkway at the side of my house, and just outside the back door.
Water plants, flowers, and fish are big business these days. Unfortunately, koi need ponds, not small containers, to do well.
I have heard that koi grow to a proportionate size based on their surroundings. But there are a lot of other fish you can raise, ones lots smaller by nature. It just seems safer and more kind to use fish that will do well in a container water garden.
Koi can live to between 25-30 years. I’ve even heard they can live up to 200 years, and I did know of one at an aquatic nursery that was over one-hundred years old.
So it’s probably best stick to the little aquarium fish that are small enough to do well in a container water garden. Typically, you can raise two goldfish in a 20-25 gallon container.(Just don’t leave your fish food outside at night if raccoons are your close neighbors. Their little hands are more dexterous than you can imagine. I’ve lost whole containers of food in one night!)
But—if you’re interested in a water feature, there are several types you can chose from:
- A big pot filled with water lilies and other blooming plants.
- A big pot filled with water plants and fish.
- A shallower pot filled with marsh-like plants. Not in water, but watery!