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Water Gardening

Dundee Fact Sheets

Water Gardening                                    Print This Sheet

Water Feature

Installing a garden pond or other water feature is not difficult and will add an interesting and unique focal point to your landscape.

After checking with your city about any code restrictions, select a site. The area should be as level as possible. To maintain water quality, a minimum of six hours of sun per day is necessary. Situate the pool as far from trees as possible (foliage falling in the pond pollutes the water) and place the pool so you can enjoy the scene from your window or deck. Check with Gopher State One Call (just dial 811) to be sure there aren’t any buried utilities in the area.

Design on paper first. When you have a concept that pleases you, lay out the boundaries in the yard with stakes. A garden hose works well to help visualize curves. If your site has a slope, consider adding a waterfall. This bird-attracting feature will not waste water since it is recycled with a pump, which will also keep the pond aerated. The power cable and necessary water lines can be easily installed. Follow city codes and obtain permits as needed. Don’t forget where the lines are underground.

Concrete ponds are probably the least desirable in this climate because of possible winter damage. If you choose this material, make the concrete thick enough, use reinforcing mesh, and decide on placement carefully. These concrete pools are very difficult to remove and should be considered permanent features.

Pre-molded pools come in different sizes and styles. Waterfalls can also be purchased pre-formed. These products are durable and are usually not subject to winter damage. It is important that a molded pool has uniform support which is achieved by fitting it firmly on a sand bed. Dig a hole deeper and somewhat larger than the pool. Fill the bottom with several inches of sand. Place the pool and fill it about 2/3 with water. Firmly backfill around the sides with sand or soil before filling the rest of the way. Place heavy, flat stones around the edge to visually finish the look and give the pond weight so it won’t heave out of the ground.

Flexible liners are black sheets specifically designed for pond use. Use a rope or hose to define the shape you desire. Dig inside this template to allow for final trimming. Excavate, bearing in mind the location and depth of ledges or tiers. Do final shaping, making sure the top edge is as level as possible. Remove any sharp stones or roots. Create at least a 1” deep sand bed on the bottom of the hole and work sand into the sides to smooth them. Fabric underlayment is also a good idea. Drape the pool liner over the hole with an even overlap all the way around and place stones on the edges to loosely hold it in place. Slowly fill the pond with water and ease the stones off at intervals so the liner fits snugly and evenly. Avoid creases as much as possible. When the pool is full, trim the liner, leaving at least a 5” margin. Temporarily secure this edge with 4” nails. Edge the pool with flat stones laid on a base of three parts sand to one part cement. If cement drops in the pool, drain the pool and refill before adding fish. Figure to buy a liner that is at least 5’ longer and 5’ wider than the size of your pond so there’s enough for the sides.

Consider adding goldfish to the pond to cut down on the number of mosquito larvae that will hatch from the pool. In this climate, the fish will most likely have to be brought indoors to an aquarium for the winter as most ponds will freeze to the bottom.

There are many attractive water plants that can be added to your pond. Water lilies are especially dramatic. Covering the pond about 60% with plants will cut down on algae growth.

When determining what size pump to buy, take the length of your pond x width x depth x 7.5. This is the number of gallons per hour your pump should be able to handle.

Be conscious of safety factors during design and construction of a garden pond. Children are drawn to water and their safety must be kept in mind.

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