Friday, September 08, 2006

Creating Indoor and Outdoor Water Gardens

Water gardens are a great way to add some peace and tranquility to any spot of your yard or home. There are a variety of different types of water gardens you can make, and from the fancy to the table top varieties, you are sure to get a lot of satisfaction.

It is a known fact that listening to water is a very relaxing way to enjoy our day or evenings, and having a water garden is a great way to help out our eco system. Many different animals that are in the surrounding will come to visit your water garden, and it will add a lot of education and stimulation to your project as well.

We'll start with the more easy type of water garden. One that can show a dream world that is waiting to get out. Nothing plays with the imagination more than a miniature garden, and it can add a whimsical touch to any area of your house.

You can build a water garden for the table, or try a more complex, larger indoor water garden to accent a certain area of your house. You will need a few items to complete this request, and these items include a container of some sort to hold the water, a pump to create waterfalls with, some water plants, and if you are real creative, some regular garden dirt for other wetland plants that serve as further decorations that add appeal to your project. You will also need various rocks that you will be able to move around to your satisfaction that create dazzling effects that stun those around you.

To do this project, take your container and set it in front of you. Next, you will place your pump, which has a tube on it inside of the bowl, and start surrounding the pump with rocks of various sizes, and in different positions. You will want to have a very small pump for this type of water garden, or else you may find more water on your floor than what is going back into the container.

Once you have your rock assortment fixed up, you will start taking out some of the rocks to place some bulbs of water plants that will grow within your water garden. You are only going to want a slow trickle so that your plants can grow beautifully in the miniature lake that is created. Next, you will use waterproof silicone to permanently place your rock fixtures together. When the glue has dried, you will be able to add the water to the bowl and turn it on. You have a simple little water garden that will grow a spectacular water plant, as well as have the tranquil sound of running water flowing through the air of your home.

That was the simplest of water gardens for indoor use, and probably the most used, but then there are the real enthusiasts that wish to create a small eco system within their home that serves as an eye piece for those who come to visit. This will take a little bit more planning, and a few new items that need to be added to the creation list.

You will now need to purchase yourself some bricks at the local hardware store. Also at the hardware store, you can usually find a water garden section, especially in the summer, and when the fall gets here, they have awesome sales on what is left over. That is a great time to purchase these items that are necessary. You will also want to get yourself a water garden liner. It can be the smallest variety, as you are not going to be creating a pond as big as your living room. You will need a filter for this little eco system, because you will be adding a coy fish and possibly underwater frogs to this project, and you will want to keep the water fresh and clean. You will also need a pump so that you can create a dazzling water display in the scenery. Purchasing cuttings of water plants from the pet store or bulbs at the local retail store will provide for the plant life that is present in your water garden indoor masterpiece.

Now the first step is the bricks that you are going to lay down on the floor, and you are going to keep stacking these flat pieces until you get about a foot above the floor. You will then open up your liner, which should be placed in the sun for a little while, and place it on top of what you have built. You will need to cut around the liner so that you can make a specific shape on the bottom part of your design. You will then want to just set down the longer part of the liner, so that you can build up your back wall and place the liner on it. Use one row of bricks, and then pull the liner up, and once again, trim the liner to the specifications of your design.

Now you are going to put your pump and filter, connected together, into your indoor pond. This way you can build the rest of your design up around the tube that will bring the water up, and hide the pump and filter as well. Once you have done this, you will be ready to fully add the rest of the bricks that you need to complete your garden. As you are adding your bricks, make sure none of the liner is sticking out, and eventually, you won't be able to see the liner at all from the outside. You need this liner to hold in the water, and keep your floor from getting damp. Make sure you build up your bricks high enough that any droplets of water will be caught.

You can do cool things with the design of your indoor pond. You can leave out bricks to add soil, and wetland foliage. You can make cool little design areas that make it look like there are levels in your pond where you can place the plants on the step-like surface, rather than having them all over in the water. It's really up to you, as this is not only something great for the house, but is a work of art that you are creating as well.

Once you have the whole thing together, and if you stacked in a balanced manner, you shouldn't even need to add anything to keep the bricks together, and this will be great for easily dismantling your pond as well. Now you will be ready to add your plant life to your pond. You can hole your plants down with either more bricks that are designed in the bottom of the pond, or by adding cat litter to help them keep stationary, and not cloud up your water.

You can now step back and see if you like what you have done, and if everything looks good, you can add your water. Fill it up to about one to two inches below the top, and plug your pond in. If the water is splashing out too quickly, you may need to adjust your tube, as well as change some of your bricks around. You may not have everything one hundred percent accurate the first time, but through trial and error, you will get everything just right.

Okay, so now you have your plants, your water, everything running, and now you can plant your other wetland life. Most of the soil will stay a little damp, due to evaporation and little water droplets. Most likely, you won't even have to water these plants at all, and this whole system will take care of itself.

So now you have everything running, and there is only one more thing that you need to do. You need to add some life to the indoor water garden, and this is because your plants need nutrients from the wildlife, and the wildlife needs the plants to survive. Snails and shrimp are very good additions to the pond, because they will eat the scum that tries to attach itself to everything. A good algae eater, will also be a welcome addition to your pond, and will help you to spend less time cleaning anything. You can add some underwater frogs, as they also do the same thing and will not be hopping all over your house, yet will be a normal part of any indoor eco system. Yet, the best ingredient of all of these, is the ever loving coy fish. The coy fish is a very beautiful, oriental, gold fish. This fish can actually be trained to do tricks for food. How neat the entertainment can be on that one. Plus, not only does this fish get tamed, your water garden will truly become the talk of the town.

Now we come to the outdoor water garden. This is the most costly of all of the water garden varieties, but also has the biggest potential and dreams that can be involved. Your creativity and money is your limit with this type of a project, but you better be ready to put some manpower into it.

You will need to get your liner or liners based on what you are designing. If you are going to have a stream that runs into a waterfall, which goes into your miniature pond, you are going to need two liners. A stream liner, and a regular liner with enough dimensions on it to hold the water in. You will also need a pump and a filter, some hose and some tubing. You can get rocks from your yard or area to create your effects, or you can purchase bricks at the local hardware store. You will need a level, a shovel or someone to dig it up, and several different types of waterplants. You'll want animals, but they will come on their own, or you can purchase them at the local fish store. Most of all, you will need a lot of effort and energy in putting everything together. Depending on your living conditions of your area, you may also needed a little heated ball.

Of course, the first step is finding the location that best serves you. I highly recommend that you make this pond to be at least four feet deep and have at least a four foot width. The length can be up to you. The importance of how deep it is has to do with the fact that the ground does not freeze at this level, no matter where you live, and so you wouldn't have to remove all of your animals before the winter season. If you are going to keep them in the pond all year long though, and you get lots of snow, you will want the heated ball placed in your water garden so that a whole in the ice is always present.

This fact is important because you need a spot for the gases to escape, or you will kill your animals. Remember, this is smaller than a lake, and the other good point is that your animals could become blind if they can't get any sunlight, and this hole in the ice will let the sun shine through. This is also good for feeding purposes, because yes, you will still need to feed your fish. However, if have snails in your pond, the fish can feed on the babies that are created, and believe me, many will be. Just a good hint to know for the feeding frenzy.

Okay, once you find the spot, it will now be time to shovel out your spot. Of course, it's always nice if you know someone who has a machine to do this, but if you don't, you still can do it yourself. It will take a lot of hours, but is also good exercise, and you won't regret the rewards you see for your efforts. Once you have the depth required, you will want to make sure there are no twigs or sticks sticking up that can poke a hole in the liner of your pond. If you want a perfect pond, with levels that are present, you may want to make sure you use a leveler to make it straight, but to tell you the truth, allowing your pond to fall in it's own order adds a lot to the natural beauty.

If you are creating a stream for your pond, you can use the dirt you took out of your hole build up the slant for the stream. You should also use this dirt to build up the back of your pond where your waterfall will be situated. This saves on labor when you are placing rocks around your garden. When you are creating your stream, make sure you dig out the middle of the stream area so that the water flows in one spot, and not out of your water garden.

Now you will place your big liner into the bottom of your pond, and then place the stream liner on the stream. It's always good to let your liner sit in the sun for a little while, because when it is warm, it will conform easier to the hold and structures you have built. Always make sure you do this in the order that is mentioned, because the stream liner will have to be able to flow over the other liner, or you will lose water.

Next You will want to add your pump, tubing, hose and filter. You don't necessarily need a filter, as the items that fall in your pond can work work in your favor for keeping nutrients in the water, but if you want to keep it clean, it is important you keep these items out of the water as much as possible. Plus, your pump can get plugged up if the filter is not in the pond, or not working properly. You will want to hide these items as much as possible, so using rocks and other items is really creative. If you were really creative in digging your pond, you would have made a section in the dirt that would be lower than the rest of the pond so that the items rest down lower, and flat pieces of rock can be used. This way you have more pond space.

The part we will discuss now is the most laborious, and you should have other manpower to help you. You will now be placing either your collection of rocks, in various sizes, or your bricks you purchased around your pond and designing the effect you are looking for. Just as the indoor water garden goes, you can do whatever you want with the rocks, and the good part is you can always add rock designs on at a later date too.

Make your pond look natural, add ledges, and places for wildlife to hide. Add little pebbles to the bottom that don't have any edges, and medium rocks placed in the stream to create sound effects. The stream water can be flowing to an area of rocks that creates cascading water falls of various sizes. The water can be running fast, or the water can be a slow trickle. Your plants should be placed in the water garden according to instructions, and held in place with cat litter, as well as with other various rock mixtures.

Now fill your pond up with water, and while you are waiting, go ahead and plant some wetland material around the garden itself. In the beginning you won't see that this plant life seems like enough, but it will mature and grow more, and eventually you will have a complete plant section that will attract insects for the water wildlife.

Now plug your pond in and make sure the water is staying in the water garden. While it is running and you are testing it, run to the local fish store and purchase yourself some samples of water plants and underwater wildlife. Put them in the water, and sit back and relax with your new eco system. However, like I said before, if you don't want to add any wildlife, that is just fine too. A wide assortment of wetland creatures from your area are sure to join your dwelling that you have created.

Another thing that is very cool is the fact that the government will give you a small sum of $50 if you have a complete eco system in your hard. This doesn't cover everything and all of the expenses, but it will help you out. You are also acknowledged for helping a part of our earth to function, even if it is in small amounts. There is less and less environment left to house our native species, and your contribution, no matter how small, makes a huge impact.

This type of water garden replenishes itself, and you don't have to put much work and effort into it once you have it created. The water will evaporate, the rain replaces the empty space with fresh water. The insects that are drawn in will feed the wildlife, the wildlife will help the plants, and the plants will help the wildlife. The waterfall, and the stream, will keep everything flowing, and keep the water from becoming stagnant. So although this project is harder to put together, it is much easier to maintain than the indoor variety.

Once you have your garden together, you will have the company of many visitors who wish to see your garden. You can get your town involved by asking for contributions of plants or natural wildlife that is collected and needs to be saved, and can also serve as education for those people with an interest in the environment. So this process doesn't only need to be enriching for you as an individual, but can create a love of wild life to those around you.

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