Water gardens don't need lots of space or expensive equipment, and they add variety to a small garden or balcony without using much water.
Step 1: Choose a Vessel
Step 2: Attach the Spout
Step 3: Divide the Container
Step 4: Connect the Pump
Step 5: Pick Your Plants
Written by Marion Langford
Slip a plastic pot into a wooden barrel, position pavers of various heights to act as pedestals and place potted aquatic plants on top. The only drawback is that the pots are visible. Add a spouter and rest the pump on a pedestal (without a cup). Or, make a terracotta container watertight. Plug the drain hole with plumber's epoxy and apply two coats of polyurethane inside and out.
Drill a small hole in the rim of the container to mount the spouting ornament, bending the support spike if necessary. Spread the soil of the lily or other deep-water plants in half of the container, then add kitty litter around it to create a level floor.
Place a stone partition across the center. Plant shallow-growing plants and spread more kitty litter over the soil. On the low side, nestle a plastic cup for the pump, keeping it covered to stop gravel falling in. Spread pea gravel over the kitty litter.
Use 3/8-in. plastic tubing to connect the pump to the spouter. Press the pump into the cup so the suction cups anchor it to the bottom. Cover the pump with a nylon stocking filter, then with pea gravel. Fill with water that has sat in a bucket for a day or two to allow chlorine to evaporate and water temperature to moderate.
Plant a dwarf lily in a small container so that the pads don't completely cover the surface of the water. For larger pots, add a floating plant like water hyacinth, duckweed or water lettuce.
Two tiers allow for different types of plants. Lilies on the deep side have stems that float upward and extend horizontally. Put plants that grow upright and favor shallower water on the higher side.
Aquatic plants thrive on direct sunlight, so a bright sunny spot is ideal. Avoid windy areas as strong breezes tear tall plants.
Fish such as koi or goldfish don't fit dish-style gardens, but larger pots are ideal (although metal containers get too warm). Fish keep the garden clean by eating algae, decaying plant material and mosquito larvae.
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.