Whatever form it is in, water is one of the best features you can have in the garden. It is entrancing to look at, a joy to hear, and the flowers you can grow in water and near it are among the most beautiful there are. We don’t know anyone who doesn’t love water lilies in the water garden, and the irises and flags swaying gracefully beside a stream or pond are a close runner-up.
The reflections in the pool can double your pleasure – or your distress – if you permit the pool to be placed where what you see reflected is the back of you neighbor’s tool shed, your own laundry wheel or garbage cans, or the dull, dreary face of an apartment building’s blank wall.
If your garden is designed as an outdoor room for relaxation, water makes it twice as restful – or maybe more so. After you relax in the hot sun, a pool large enough to get into adds the extra pleasure of cooling you off. All pools and running water can cool the air somewhat, and the sound of water, as we know, gives the psychological effect of cooling, too. Water gardens intensify that feeling even more, and make the changes seem more poignant and more present.
Choosing Your Water Garden
If you can arrange for running water, do so. Where there is a slope, it is easy enough to foresee how pleasant a waterfall, and a small stream leading to a pool below would be. If you are so lucky as already to have a stream coming down a slope, it is even easier to imagine damming up the brook at some point and creating a pool. But even on flat land, you can introduce a mound of some sort, construct a waterfall down it, and a little stream leading to a pool in which you can have a circulating pump that will carry the water back up to the waterfall. In a way, this situation is the luckiest for you can choose exactly where and what kind of pool to have.
It is certainly recommend that all gardeners use recirculating water for their gardens. You save water that way but you also save yourself the bother of finding a proper drainage system, proper treatment of the soil, and the nuisance of having just one more thing to get out of order in case, for instance, the roots of nearby shrubs decide to invade the drain. Most important of all, you can maintain a temperature of the water suitable to plants and fish, without its being chilled unduly.
The great advances today in waterproof plastic materials such as PVC and polyvinyl chloride have made it possible to have pools and even streams with plastic bottoms, so you don’t even have to go to the bother and expense of concrete structures anymore. They have to be replaced, yes; but so do most concrete pools, too, when they begin to crack and leak. Obviously it is easier to pull out and replace a plastic pool bottom than a concrete one. And it is no more trouble to put the masking stones around a plastic pool than a concrete one. And no more trouble to put masking sand over plastic than over concrete.
A recirculating pool, where the rainfall is enough to replace the water lost through evaporation, can go on and on. When evaporation exceeds the new rain supply, tap water can be used to fill the pool again, as long as it is added in small enough amounts to keep the temperature from dropping so quickly it upsets the pool balance and disturbs the plants and the fish you will have in your pool to help maintain that balance.
Some other advantages of a plastic pool over a concrete one are that you don’t have to go through the big operation of pouring the concrete all at one time to avoid cracks, or the bother of having to keep filling and draining the pool for weeks until the alkalines are washed away. Since it is best to grow your water lilies and other water plants in tubs or boxes or baskets, you won’t have a soil bottom to the pool, and only need a sandy bottom of some attractive natural color.
What Size Should The Pool Be?
Though it is possible to grow a water lily in a space as small as a sunken barrel, a larger place is needed for most water lilies, especially if you plan to grow the kind you can leave in the water all winter. Where the weather will make the pool freeze over you will need a depth of three feet. Unfortunately the ready-made plastic or fiberglass pools you can buy usually are not that deep, so inspect the dimensions carefully before you buy. There are little waterlilies, the Chinese waterlilies, which you can grow in shallow water, as shallow as six inches; but the bigger ones are much more attractive.
If you want the biggest, most spectacular lilies of all, use tropicals in big three-foot boxes at least a foot deep, and, if you live in the north, treat them as annuals, and get new ones each year. The overall size of a pool is of course up to individual choice, but the thing to remember is that a really successful still water pool must have a large enough surface area in relation to the total capacity so that there are no drastic temperature fluctuations. Neither your plants nor your fish could stand that.