A water garden’s beauty does not come just from the blossoming aquatic plants or the intricate feature designs alone. It also comes from the effort and time spent behind the scenes of prepping the whole masterpiece together.
What supplies will you need for your water garden? Asides from picking the right water plants and choosing your favorite sea creatures, you will also need tools and supplies, such as water treatment chemicals, fertilizers, and fish medicine to name a few.
This complete guide contains all the basic supplies and tools you would need to help you get started on creating the water garden feature you’ve always wanted or imagined. Also included with this guide is information on what you need the items for and how you can use them effectively.
Know Your Design to Know Your Needs
Before you get too excited and go on a shopping frenzy for all the supplies and tools you have in mind, you first need to sit down and think about the materials you need for your water garden feature. In order to know what materials you need, you have to make a decision on what water garden feature you want.
For example, are you going to start small with a watertight patio-sized container or dive right in with an in-ground pond? Unlike regular gardening, a water garden requires more investment and delicate work. Any mistakes or poor planning can be quite costly.
So, if you’re new and want to start off easy, any kind of watertight container will do the trick. If you want to start getting a little fancy, then you can invest in something like a hollowed-out stone that catches rainwater.
Containers can come in many sizes, so don’t get stressed out about what’s available. What you need to focus on is finding a watertight container. This is important so that you can maintain the quality of the water once you’ve filled it up, as well as to ensure there are no leaks. If you happen to have old wine barrels or bathtubs laying around, you could also use these as alternatives. You just need to make sure that the inside is lined with plastic to prevent water leakage.
Putting together a water garden in a container is not only great for beginners, but for those who don’t have much in their pocket. You can get just as extravagant with a container filled with the right plants and fish. This feature design is also more manageable for those who are more time-constrained.
A water garden fountain could be your next step of growing your water gardening abilities. Water fountains don’t have to be large features, so you can also start off small and use any material, such as a stone bowl or a large vase. In fact, you could even improve your current water garden pot or container and just add a fountain spray.
Some people buy the water fountain sculpture and just build on or around what they have purchased. Others prefer to put their own feature together, which requires only three simple things. They are water, a pump, and a sculpture or feature design. Out of these three things, the only item you need to purchase is the pump. One thing to make sure is to find a pump that is submersible, as this will sit in the water for it to pump the water into the pipes. You might also need to buy the pipe itself if the pump comes alone. Note: whenever using an electrical plug, ensure that you have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI) rated safety outlet or switch. When working around water with electricity, safety is paramount.
Other than the pump and maybe a pipe or tubing, you need to determine where you want to place your water fountain. This is important so you can know where to connect the pump to an outlet. Pump cords rarely extend more than 50 feet, so bear that in mind. The last thing to keep in mind is to design your water fountain so that you can access the pump and pipe for future maintenance without having to take the whole fountain apart.
Now this one might push your limits or challenge you. Building your own fishpond takes a lot of effort and planning, whether you’re making a small one or not. This is also something you don’t want to make mistakes in, as one mistake can affect the entire process. However, witnessing a finished pond is definitely a sight for joy and a worthwhile endeavor for both the creator and the onlookers.
The main key to building your own water garden with fish is work. It requires a lot of digging and planting. First, find a good spot before you start digging. Then as you dig, aim to have different slopes so you can have different plants in different depths. These varying depths can open your pond up for different habitats as well. If you live in a very cold climate, make sure to dig the hole deep enough, usually 24 to 36 inches, for the water to not freeze solid.
Once you’ve dug the hole, you now need to decide on what you want to line the bottom of the pond with before adding the water. Nowadays, many prefer to use fiberglass, but you can also use plastic, clay, or cement, depending on the soil’s water retention. Some other materials you might need are bricks and stones to hold the lining in place, as well as to use for planting and decoration later on.
Asides from these main materials, you also might want to add some helpful items, such as a filtration system to filter those extra gunk that builds up from fish waste and other solid debris, an air filter to increase the oxygen levels in the water, or a diffuser to help circulate the oxygen. Of course, choosing the right plants and having the right number of fish can maintain your pond’s nutrient balance.
Tools for a Water Gardener
The tools for a water gardener are pretty much the same as for a regular gardener. So, if you already have a garden toolshed or have good experience in gardening, then you’re off to a head start.
Most of the tools you’d need to get you started should already be in an average household, such as a wheelbarrow and a shovel. These two are important tools because you’ll always be working with soil, regardless of the feature size. You can even get these tools in smaller handheld versions. Without them, you might be spending a lot more time than you should.
Other common household items that you would need, regardless of the water garden feature, is a garden hose and a measuring tape. Of course, you’ll be dealing with water, so above all else, make sure you have the water supply ready. As for the measuring tape, the size of your feature can play a big role in what kind of plants and fish to get, as well as the amount to have.
Aside from these necessary tools, here some others that may come in handy:
- Level – This can help you check the level of objects in a horizontal plane and judge their radius or angle.
- Rake – A great tool for clearing. You could also use it to level the ground or soil and can come in a handheld version.
- Dip or skimmer net – These nets are perfect for removing leaves or any other floaters that fall in the water. You can also use them to transfer fish if needed. These could come in varying sizes and lengths with nets in varying depths.
- Rope or string – Ropes or strings are good-to-have items nearby. They could serve well when working with materials, such as tying or attaching pieces together, for example.
- Chalk or markers – It’ll certainly be useful to have some sort of marker to help you keep track of what you’re doing. Chalk can work great as they can fade over time or with water. When using a permanent marker, it’s best to purchase one with the lowest odor and that is aquarium safe as the ink can be harmful to fish.
In the plant kingdom, there is an order of growth and development. The same goes when preparing for a water garden. To work with tools also means working with materials. As mentioned above, the materials will depend on what your feature is, so first know what you want, then you can purchase the materials, which will then make known what tools you’ll need to use.
Water Garden Supplies
The final stage of creating your water garden is to prepare the supplies. These are mostly things you’ll need for your water plants and sea animals, but you can also get supplies to help you with the quality of the water.
Water Treatment Chemicals
Most cities treat their water with chlorine as it is a very effective disinfectant. Although this is safe for humans, this is harmful to fish. Fortunately, however, chlorine can evaporate in a couple of days, so if this is the chemical your area uses to treat its water, then you can wait at least 48 hours to begin stocking your pond.
Other common chemicals some places use for water treatment are chlorine dioxide or chloramines. These chemicals cannot be removed by time so you need to purchase products that will eliminate these, such as water conditioners. Your best course of action would be to contact your city’s water department. They can help you know their water treatment method and therefore help you know how to remove these harmful chemicals.
Another water treatment chemical that you should know about is algaecide. Excessive algae growth is very bad for fish and plants as this can deprive them of their nutrients. Algaecide is poisonous to algae and so can be used to kill them off. It’s important to note that some algaecide chemicals may be harmful to certain fish, so always read the product you aim to buy.
Aquatic plants are actually a little easier to take care of directly than regular plants, as most of their care comes from the nutrients in the water. Therefore, if you take care of your water well, they, in turn, will take care of your plants.
But, just like regular plants, your aquatic plants could also use fertilizing. They just need a special kind of fertilizer, one that comes in pellet form. Thankfully, you don’t have to get wet to fertilizer your water plants, as all at it takes is to add these water-soluble fertilizer pellets in the water, then they naturally will be applied to the soil.
The best time to add these fertilizers is when you plan to change the water, usually every four to six weeks, or when you start to see a great lowering of water level due to evaporation. How much fertilizer you use will depend on the weather and the size and amount of plants you have. Of course, it can take a little bit of experience to know when your plants need that extra nutrient help, but this general guideline can help get you started.
Believe it or not fish and other aquatic life can get sick too. They can be affected by certain bacterial and viral diseases. Their sickness can also be spread to other fish around them. This is why it’s important that you observe your aquatic animals and pay attention to their health, as well as the water they live in.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to tell if your fish is sick or not, but there are some signs that can help you know enough to have your fish checked. If you find these signs, also make sure to check the quality of the water as this would usually be the cause of the sickness. Some of these visible signs are slow or lack of swimming around, steady floating near the bottom or unable to swim to the top (sometimes remaining in the same spot can be negative sign), and some signs can be seen externally on the body, such as unusual marks or changes in the gills or on the fins.
If you notice that changing or improving the water quality doesn’t seem to heal or alleviate the sickness of your fish, you could also purchase fish medicine. Surprisingly, there are many available on the market including antibiotics.
Using these medications is simple to use as you just apply them in the water to dissolve. Make sure to check the medication beforehand, though, as not all medicine is safe for plants or other invertebrates. The safest solution would be to isolate the infected fish and treat it separately from the others if you find that the water was not the issue.
The Best Treatment is Prevention
Whether it is your fish getting sick, your plants losing nutrients, or your water reducing in quality, being prepared in advance for what you need and for things that could happen can not only save you lives but also effort. Nobody likes their effort going to waste, so stocking up on these common supplies can save you time and money in the future.
Now that you have an idea of the basic tools and supplies you’ll need for a water garden, as well as the materials you’ll require, you can confidently begin your project. As suggested and with pretty much all things in life, start small if you are unsure or if you’ve never done something like this before until you get the hang of things.
If you want to gain more insights, here are a couple of related questions that can help you understand more about how you can successfully get a water garden going:
- “How can I meet the demands of the weather?” – The weather can significantly affect your water garden ecosystem, so it’s important to be aware of what the weather can be like in your area. A temperature gauge can be very useful to have outside or near your water garden feature to help you judge more accurately the outside and your water’s temperature.
- “What design will your water garden feature have?” – Knowing how you want your water garden feature or sculpture to look like will help you gain a bigger picture of what to get. For example, lighting is an exciting feature that can make your water garden look very attractive. Another good example is adding a sound system for extra beautiful effects.
This complete guide on the basics of what you need should give you the boost you’ve been searching for. Although there is always more to learn, as you strive to apply what you’ve learned, you’ll eventually create your own water garden park.