Soothing water gardens

Imagine the music of running water, or the serenity of a still lake.  Water has the power to both soothe and intrigue us. A water feature in a garden can easily become its main attraction. 

Ponds, fountains & waterfalls
[managing editor, Fran Donegan].
Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Creative Homeowner, c2010.
A water garden—incorporating a pond and fountain or fountains—is today's sought-after companion to almost any backyard landscaping project. Whether readers are deciding on the type of pond that best suits their wants and needs or trying to decide whether a stream or a waterfall fi ts better into their landscape, Smart Guide: Ponds, Fountains & Waterfalls has it all. Completely rewritten and packed with all-new full-color photographs and illustrations, this guide will help homeowners plan, build, and maintain their pond or fountain with step-by-step do-it-yourself sequences and easy-to-understand directions. Chapters cover everything from plant and fi sh selection to tips on choosing a spray or statuary fountain, how to install pond shells, digging out a watercourse, and even adding accents such as bridges and stepping-stones to the backyard.
Water gardens & natural pools : design & construction
Peter Himmelhuber.
Atglen, Pa. : Schiffer Pub., c2009.
With over 300 beautiful color photos and an informative text offers practical knowledge for the planning, building, and care of water features in gardens. From design to maintenance, all necessary steps are made clear, including planning, building processes, material uses and techniques, and using rainwater as they apply to fountains, biotopes, brooks, swimming pools and ponds, plants and animals. Step-by-step instructions, informative suggestions, maintenance tips, lists of plants, and plans are included. This book is essential for anyone intending to include a water feature in their landscape design.
Timber Press pocket guide to water garden plants
Greg Speichert and Susan Speichert.
Portland, Or. : Timber Press, 2008.
"Here are 450 choice plants for containers, ponds, and wet soils, from the ever-popular waterlilies and lotus to submerged plants, floating plants, and bog plants, Each description offers helpful tips for cultivation, including cold tolerance and how to overwinter the plant, as well as water requirements to grow the plant well. Generous suggestions for incorporating the plant in the landscape are provided, and more than 300 gorgeous photographs from the authors' library show thriving plants in a range of wet gardens. No garden is complete without water garden plants!"--BOOK JACKET.
The water gardener's bible
Ben Helm, Kelly Billing.
Emmaus, Pa. : Rodale, c2008.
  1. "A step-by-step guide to building, planting, stocking, and maintaining a backyard water garden"--Cover.
  2. Includes bibliographical references and index.
Water garden idea book
Lee Anne White.
Newtown, CT : Taunton Press, c2008.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 166).
The illustrated practical guide to water & rock gardening : everything you need to know to design, construct and plant up a rock or water garden, with directories of suitable plants and how to grow them
Peter Robinson.
London : Southwater, 2008.
The first section of this book, 'Rock and Water in Gardens', celebrates ponds, streams and fountains, with nine examples of rock and water features. Next 'Special Features' looks at the finishing touches in a water garden, including bridges and lighting. Safety, the water table, and making a plan are covered in 'Planning the Design'. 'Materials and Equipment'discusses liners, edgings, pumps and filters. 'Constructing Rock and Water Gardens' gives advice on installation, with photographic sequences and illustrations to take you through the process. No feature would be complete without soft landscaping, and in 'Planting Water and Rock Gardens', there is guidance on designing, planting and propagating.The 'Plant Directory' covers a range of water lilies, marginals and moisture-lovers as well as trees, shrubs and alpines. 'Fish and Other Fauna' looks at introducing fish, while 'Care and Maintenance' explains how to keep your garden in top condition.

Historic water gardens

"It is surprising to discover just how central the use of water features is to gardens worldwide at all times in history." -- Peter Robinson

(more water garden history)

Water gardens can be created in anything that will hold water.  They can be designed to fit any landscape.  Geometric shapes are suitable for a formal garden, while a naturalized setting may call for a pond edged with iris and ferns.  Even a container on a patio can be fitted with aquatic plants, goldfish, and a bubbling fountain.

Water gardens should be sited in full sun, away from overhanging trees and underground cables or pipes.  Installation can be relatively easy, utilizing pond liners that are readily available at home improvement or garden centers.  Concrete or brick structures require more specialized skills. 

For gardeners, the real attraction of water gardens is plant selection.  A good mix of plants will include submerged, floating, and marginal species.  Submerged plants grow entirely underwater.  They provide oxygen for fish and help to keep the water clear.  Water hyacinth and water lettuce are examples of floating plants. They provide shade and shelter for fish.  Marginal and floating-leaved plants, such as cattails and water lilies are commonly planted in submerged baskets.

After planting, wait a few days to allow chlorine to evaporate from the water before adding fish.  In time, water gardens will attract additional wildlife, such as birds, insects, frogs, and toads. A small investment of time and effort will reap big rewards for the gardener.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff