Picking Out Your Water Garden Parts and Supplies

Unless you're especially handy, buying and installing some of the stuff you want for your water garden can be daunting. But you still want or need the stuff, right? No problem! Start by getting some good advice. Talk with a specialist or landscaper who installs water features, or call a mail-order supplier, and discuss your options. Their expertise can be invaluable. Even if you end up hiring someone to help you, you should still be an educated consumer.

As with any form of gardening, the cheapest road toward installing your water garden is to do all of it yourself, and many home and garden centers now stock everything you need to bring your garden plans to life. If you don't have a water-garden supplier near you, numerous mail-order houses can help and offer impressive, wide-ranging selections to boot.

«sjMJEfl Going with the cheapest versions of things isn't always wise — you get what you pay for. Buy supplies for your water garden from a reputable source and be sure you understand the return, refund, or replacement policy, just in case.

Here's a list of the things you're most likely to need and what they'll probably cost you:

  • The pool itself: The container or liner is probably your biggest expense. Tubs and other suitable smaller containers range from about $30 up to $100; special plastic liners (or enough of the special, puncture-resistant sheeting to make your own shape) can run be as low as $15 for something that'll fit in a half whiskey barrel to as high as hundreds of dollars for a substantial, shaped, in-ground form. If you haven't yet decided what kind of pond you want, review the previous sections.
  • The inner workings — pipes, tubes, valves, filters, fountains, fittings, pads, screens, holding tubs, and more: Yep, these interlocking and sometimes complex pieces of hardware are part of the show behind the scenes. They may be under the water or they may run behind or next to your display, or both. Match the item to your display's size and water volume; the vendor can help you with this. See Figure 17-4.

When all is said and done — that is, when these fixtures are installed and doing their job — your job becomes two-fold: Keep them clean and in good repair, and hide these manmade items from sight behind or below lush plants or rocks so the natural look prevails. I cover some of these items in more detail later in the chapter.

Water and electricity can be a dicey combination. And yet, it's often nice or critical to have items that run on electricity associated with your display, such as a pump-driven fountain or waterfall, a filter, or atmospheric lighting. My main advice to you on this issue is two-fold:

  • Hire help. Unless you're a licensed electrician, don't mess with installing and hooking up wiring around a water feature. Get it done right by someone experienced. This person can also help you with hiding the lines from view.
  • GFCIs (ground filter current interruptors), or GFIs (ground fault interrupters), are a must on every electrical item associated with a water garden. This extension-cord style device automatically and instantly shuts off power when it detects a leak in the electrical current (thus preventing shock).
  • Edging material (brick, rocks, flagstone, wood, whatever): These items are purely gardener's choice, and the cost and amount needed depend entirely on your plans.
  • Plants: Waterlilies and lotus can run from about $25 up to $50 or more, per plant. Other water plants, from irises to canna to floating heart to underwater/oxygenating plants, are often much less. See "Choosing Plants for Water Gardens," later in the chapter, for more information.

As for pondside landscaping, that of course varies depending on your taste and the style of the display.

^ Fish: Goldfish and their near relatives are pretty cheap; the big koi can be very pricey. We're talking fish as cheap as a buck and thoroughbreds that run hundreds of dollars apiece. And don't forget the filter and the fish food they'll need. Again, I cover fish in more detail later in the chapter in "Adding Fish to Your Water Garden."

Before you commit yourself to adding fish, get your water garden set up first; then do your research into the types and number of fish your water garden can support — it may be less than you think (note that fish overcrowding is bad for fish health as well as water quality).

Here are a couple things you don't need to buy for your water garden:

  • Potting soil: It's a water-gardening no-no (it's too light, so it floats away). Use heavy garden soil from your own yard. For more details on planting water plants, consult "Choosing Plants for Water Gardens."
  • Creatures: If you build it, they will come! Aside from fish, your display may support dragonflies, frogs, turtles, and birds. Some are obviously welcome; others, such as mosquitoes in still water, turn out to be pests.

Figure 17-4:

Common pond equipment: pumps, filters, and valves.

Figure 17-4:

Common pond equipment: pumps, filters, and valves.

High Quality Filter (cut-away)

Check Valve

High Quality Filter (cut-away)

Check Valve

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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