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Planning a Container Water Gardens for Any Yard

I have an admission to make. I’m a natural born swamp-child. To me, there are few things in this world more beautiful than the marshy edges where pond meets woods and creates the perfect growing environment for cattails, water-lilies, lotus, cabomba and lush green ferns.

Alas, it has been my misfortune to live in the middle of the city, in rented apartments with postage stamps for yards. For years, I lusted after large, spacious backyards with room to dig your own pond. I read articles on building water gardens, koi ponds, and backyard fountains and sighed with envy. Then I discovered a simple fact – all it takes to create a water garden is a sunny spot that’s big enough for a pot of water.

It’s no more difficult to grow a water garden in a container than it is to grow any other container gardens. If you have a sunny spot – at the very least 6 hours of full sun daily throughout the summer – you can create a water garden. Your water garden can be as simple as a large tub with a few submerged plants, or as elaborate as several arranged container gardens with rocks and a fountain powered by a circulating pump. If you’d like to try your hand at creating a simple container water garden, you’ll find everything you need at a local home supply store like Home Depot.

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Planning a Container Water Garden
Location is the single most important factor in planning your water garden. Your space can be as small as a single square yard, but it MUST receive plenty of sun throughout the day. Think twice about locating a water garden of any sort beneath an overhanging tree. The leaves that fall will decay in the water and can foul it. If you’re building an actual pond, or using a large container like a swimming pool, check local ordinances regarding safety.

The plants that you choose should be suited to the container that you’re using. Choose plants that are hardy for your planting zone. There are four basic kinds of water plants:

Floating water plants – like water hyacinth and cabomba – require no planting at all. They float on the surface of the water with their roots trailing to absorb nutrients.

Surface Plants – like water lilies, lotus and floating yellow heart rooted in the pond’s bottom (or in this case, in a submerged pot), and put out leaves on long stems to float on the surface of the water.

Submerged plants – grow completely underwater, and seldom show their leaves above the surface. They help maintain the balance of nitrogen and other nutrients, and will require thinning to keep them in check.

Marginal or Bog plants – grow at the edges of ponds in the wild. They like to keep their feet wet, so to speak – with their roots and lower parts of their stems underwater. Dwarf cattails, black taro and sweet flag are examples of marginal plants.
When choosing plants for your container water garden, keep in mind the size of your container. Don’t overcrowd your garden – the rule of thumb is that your plants should cover no more than 2/3 of the surface of the water.

Part 2 – Building a Container Water Garden