Up Your New Pond
By Isabella Woods
Thatís it! The hard work of
building your pond has been done. Youíve watched the water level
anxiously for evidence of holes in the liner and it has remained pretty
constant for a week, apart from evaporation. Now your mind turns to
softening up those edges and hiding the liner from view. Hurrah! But
before you zoom off to the garden centre, read up a bit on aquatic
plants. You could save yourself some time, and money.
As well as considering how a
plant looks, you must also be aware of how it functions, in order to
balance the ecosystem in your pond. Some plants are mainly ornamental,
some have leaves that shade the water and keep algae down. Some take up
more nitrogen than others, and some will be best at oxygenating the
water. Itís important to bear all of these things in mind and choose
plants which will balance each other out.
Itís very tempting to rush into
buying water plants. I have done it myself. They look so wonderful in
the nursery pools, and it seems so easy to just pick them up and plant.
But unless you plan carefully you might find your pond overstocked, or
indeed under-stocked! The general principle to adhere to is that plants
should cover not more than two thirds of the pondís surface. If you cram
your pond full you will inhibit the water circulation, which in turn
leads to plant diseases. Donít forget also that the tiny plants you see
in the garden centre will grow much more quickly than you think, so
check out the height and spread of each plant before you buy it.
As with a normal garden it is
wise to think about which plants you will use for colour, which for
flowers, which for their evergreen properties and which ones for their
shape. It is exactly the same principle with water gardening; only your
choice is somewhat more limited. The four main categories of water
plants should be in your mind when you plan, and you should make sure
you have at least one from each category.
Deep aquatic plants
these are plant whose roots are firmly in the soil at the bottom of your
pond, but whose leaves and flowers sit on the waterís surface. Water
lilies are the most popular of these. Their roots make great hiding
places for fish, and their leaves shade the water, which helps keep
algae down. Remember that Water Lilies need a good deal of sun in order
to flower, and they also donít enjoy moving water. Other deep aquatic or
surface floating plants are Lotus, Water Hawthorne, Variegated Four-leaf
Water Clover, and Yellow Floating Heart
Free-floating plants - these plants do exactly what their name says. They float around freely
in the water, with their roots unattached. They can be a nuisance in
that they need thinning fairly regularly, but they have an essential
function in shading the water, again, keeping algae growth in check.
Free-floating aquatic plants include water hyacinth, water lettuce and
parrotís feather. Water Soldier is a useful free-floating plant in this
category. It removed excess nutrients from the water and has a pleasing
spiky leaf shape, which contrasts nicely with water lilies. It does need
thinning regularly however, be warned.
Submerged aquatics - These plants live below the surface of the water and produce oxygen. You
will see tiny bubbles come to the surface! Submerged aquatics include
Hornwort, Cabomba and Pond Weed. The latter is the most well known
variety of submerged aquatic plant and it performs extremely well at
oxygenating the water. It is also evergreen. Be prepared to thin
regularly, again, but no pond should really be without this obliging
plants or Bog plants
Marginal plants or Bog plants
These plants live in the marshy soil surrounding your pond, or submerged
in baskets at the waterís edge. They prefer their roots and lower parts
submerged. In the water, they function by competing with algae for
available nitrogen. Some of the most beautiful aquatic plants are
included in this category. Zebra, Canna, Lobelia, and King Cup, Bulrush,
variegated Water Celery, Arum lily and of course the Water Iris.It goes without
saying that law strictly forbids taking water plants from the wild. I
would actually recommend that you go to a specialist aquatic plant
nursery for your stock, rather than a normal garden centre. Whilst you
may pay a little more you can be sure that the plants will have been
grown in ideal conditions, will have been looked after and be disease
free. And after all your hard work building the pond, you deserve the
Woods is a talented London-based writer with undeniably green fingers.
If you want to contact Isabella, use the contact us
button, and I will forward it on, regards Ed.