How to Create a Container Water Garden for Small Spaces
Introduction to Container Water Gardens
Container water gardens are a great alternative to in-ground ponds. They can be placed on a front porch in the suburbs or on a sturdy balcony in the city. What makes these focal pieces great is the movement of the water—the swimming of the fish and the ripples of the water cascading down from a fountain. It's hard to go wrong when there are so many possible combinations of plants, fish, and decorations. And when you consider the small size of this water garden, you will understand how much easier they can be to maintain. The smaller size also greatly reduces the cost involved.
Creating Your Own Container Water Garden
Be sure to have fun! Most projects should be able to be completed in a single day or weekend.
Note: Allow your container water garden to cycle (run the pump) for a couple weeks before adding fish. The bacteria that will help balance your water garden need time to become established.
Since your container water garden is relatively small, be sure to account for that when choosing the number of fish and type of plants. Most of the time, dwarf varieties of plants will be the better choice. Also keep in mind how much sunlight the water garden will receive. Too much will aid in excessive algae growth, which is certainly not a desired result. Conversely, too little sun will make it hard to properly grow the water plants.
Use a wide variety of ideas and bring them together when planning your container water garden. While lily pads are popular, for instance, not every container will be big enough. A covered porch might also create too much shade for lilies to grow properly.
What type of fountain head will you use to create the feature that you prefer? There are bubble dome attachments, traditional fountain heads, and more. Thankfully most water garden fountain kits will provide several from which you can choose your favorite.
Lights are a great feature to add as well. Floating solar lights, underwater spotlights, and others are just a few possibilities. My personal favorite are floating solar lights. They never need their batteries replaced thanks to the built-in solar panel on top. Try and not add too many so as to not disrupt the fish in your container. It is after all a small space and fish too need sleep!
Step-By-Step to Create Your Container Water Garden
Once you have your ideas ready it's time to put them into action. Creating your own container water garden is easier than you think. Simply follow the steps below:
1. Start by purchasing a resin half-whiskey barrel or similar-sized container.
You could also use an actual, real half whiskey barrel. If you close the latter then you will need to line it with pond liner. This and all other supplies needed to complete this project can be found at your local home improvement store.
2. Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of pea gravel on the bottom of your container.
Pea gravel is a good choice, but you could also use small river pebbles. Both can be found at your local hardware store.
3. Fill with about half the needed water.
This will allow you to easily add in the remaining items without difficulty.
Choose the fountain head that you prefer and attach it to the pump. Do not turn it on yet.
5. Add the plant(s) that you've chosen for your water garden.
Think about how you will want them arranged and take your time. Now is the easiest time to change the placement.
6. Complete by adding finishing touches such as a floating solar light.
If you do not plan to add fish then go ahead and turn on the fountain. Congratulations, you are finished with your project! If you do plan to add fish, continue to the next step.
7. Goldfish time!
The fun part is picking out your fish. Get whatever colors and variations you would like. Just be certain not to add too many as overcrowding is unhealthy for the animals. Add the Goldfish to your water garden and you are now finished.
“A lake is a landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature."— Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Sit Back and Enjoy
Building a container water garden can be a lot of fun. The best part is being able to sit down with a cold drink while listening to the sounds of water and watching the fish happily swim around.
Relax and enjoy!
How inspired are you to build a container water garden?
Questions & Answers
© 2018 David Cory