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By Eloise Evans on 18/07/2016
Here at Drain Doctor, we know a little bit about water, and even when it’s not plumbing or drainage related, we like to do a little bit of DIY around the house and garden. We’re all about not only making sure you’re toilets and drains function properly, we also like to make our bathroom, kitchens, garden and the house in general look and feel a bit nicer. In this new DIY series, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help your home feel a bit nicer or to help you with bored kids in the holidays.
We’ll kick off this DIY series with a post on water and give you some ideas about creating some great water features in your garden! If you are looking to make your garden a little bit prettier, but can’t seem to keep flowers alive or don’t have the space for a pond (or the time to make one), then a water garden could be the perfect solution!
A water garden is made up of four types of aquatic plants, and they are usually quite tough (so they’re hard to kill). There are rooted floating plants, submerged plants, free-floating plants and marginal plants.
Rooted floating plants have their roots at the bottom of the pond (or container) in a plant pot. These plants sit at the top of the water, as they love the sun and provide shade for fish or to discourage algae growth. Common examples of rooted floating plants are waterlilies and lotus. The cay also create spectacular flowers, so if you’re looking for something pretty, these will be a good addition to any water garden.
Submerged plants are the plants that oxygenate the water and keep it healthy and clear. They are rooted at the bottom of the pond but the leaves stay under the water. These plants are also essential when wanting to add aquatic life to your water garden, so these are a must have! They can outgrow their space very quickly if they are not cut back regularly, so make sure you keep on top of them. A good example of submerged plants is hornwort or Canadian pondweed.
Free-floating plants are, you guessed it, plants that float on the top of the water that are not rooted to the bottom of the pond. They do not need soil or anchored, they simply grow by absorbing nutrients from the water. They are great for controlling algae growth as they both shade the surface of the water to discourage algae growth, and are also natural filters that remove excess nutrients from the water, meaning there are less nutrients for algae. Also, depending on what free-floating plants you use for your water garden, they can be beneficial for other reasons. For example, duckweed is rich in protein, meaning it is a great source of food for fish. Another example of free-floating plants is azolla.
Marginal plants grow in the shallow margins of the pond (who’d have known?!) and survive best in still or slow moving water. Not only do marginal plants add a decorative effect to the water garden by adding height, colour and blending the pond edge with the surrounding ground, but they are also very practical. They protect the water garden from wind and create shade, and also become a natural barrier to protect fish and frogs from predators. These types of plants are potted around the edge of the pond and are elevated by piles of bricks. Examples of marginal plants are cattail, water iris and yellow flag iris.
When choosing how many water plants to buy for your water garden, go by this rule: For one square metre of pond surface, you will need: one rooted floating plant, three oxygenated plants, one or two marginal plants and no more than half or the water’s surface should be covered with free-floating plants.
The very first thing you need to do is get a container to hold your water garden. This could be a barrel, a large flower pot or just a big plastic container – as long as it has no holes in it and it is big enough, it’ll be fine! Also grab some bricks so that you can elevate the marginal plants, some garden soil, newspaper, pea gravel or river pebbles, a trowel, plastic pots (preferably a dark colour) and of course, you will need your plants and then you’re ready to start setting your water garden up.
Make sure that when you are setting it up, the plants you are going to plant are in some water and are not in sunlight as they could dry out. When potting them, make sure you use some kind of heavy clay garden soil, as other types of soil, such as compost, potting mix or fertilizer will cause problems when you put the water in.
Marginal plants can be potted in regular plastic pots and a good size pot for marginal plants is 15cm-20cm depending on the size of the plant. Line the pot with newspaper so that no soil drains out of the pot, and then some soil to fill half of the pot. Place the plant into the pot and cover the roots with soil, but leave the crown uncovered. Add about 1-2cm of pea gravel on top but again, make sure the crown is uncovered, and then place the plant at the edge of your container on top of the bricks so that there is only about 5-10cm of water above the crown of the plant.
Rooted floating plants have the same planting method, but they need to be planted in an aquatic basket pot instead of a regular pot, especially if you are planting waterlilies. These plants should be places in the middle of the container so they had room to spread over the water and at the bottom with about 15cm-45cm of water above the plants crown. If the bottom of the container is too deep, elevate it with come bricks.
Your submerged plants need to be anchored to the bottom of your water garden so the best way to do this is to get a bunch of the stems of the plant and place the bottom end into a pot, and then fill it with gravel or pebbles and place them so that they have about 15cm-40cm of water above the leaves of the plant.
And the easiest of the plants, the free-floating plants will just be placed on the surface of the water and that’s it!