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Water gardens are beautiful accents to homes, and with some initial effort and regular maintenance, they can be a wonderful asset to your landscape. Begin by deciding on where you want your water garden. Take into account where you like to sit, how it will work into the landscape and, your access to electricity if you plan to build a garden that circulates water. You can install a water garden any time of year that you can work your soil, however the easiest would be in the spring. This allows you to have several months to experiment with adding water, plants, etc. to keep the water clean. Only when you can keep the water clean and clear should you add fish to it.
Your garden does need some sunlight, however you want it to get some shade also, especially if you plan to have fish. These small water gardens are not deep enough to provide adequate protection from the elements, and your fish will get too hot if they are in exposed sun all day. Also, if your water is to warm, it encourages algae to grow.
Once you have decided on location, start digging. There are many pre-formed gardens available, and that is really the easiest route to go. These are available at nearly all home and garden stores. Decide on a shape, and start digging. Follow the manufacture’s directions for installation, as not to void the warranty should something go wrong. It will probably be recommended to lay down some sand or pea gravel in the bottom of your hole to cushion your liner. Once you have your liner installed, the fun part begins. You will want to use rocks and plants around the edge of the garden to conceal the liner, and to blend the garden seamlessly into the remainder of your landscape. Be sure to budget enough landscaping dollars for some gorgeous water lilies, cattails, and other water plants. After you have your basic design laid out go ahead, get the garden hose, and fill your pond. Now is also the time to add your aquatic plants, as they will help to stabilize the water.
When you are planting water plants, leave them in their pot and set the pot into the garden. Add some rocks to the bottom of your pot, so that it does not tip over. If you are going to have fish in your water garden put an inch or so of small gravel over the dirt in your pots, so that the fish will not stir up the dirt and muddy your water.