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Creating a Water Garden
Teeming with Aquatic Animal Life
by John Leger, http://cabbageroses.net/
Water gardens are wonderful ways to add beauty to your landscape. A
water garden can be home to a variety of animals, including birds,
frogs, turtles and fish. Building a water garden that is animal friendly
requires knowledge, the proper tools and a little manpower. This article
will dive into how to create a water garden that sustains and encourages
aquatic animal life as well as wildlife.
Building a Water Garden
There are many choices when it comes to building a water garden. Whether
you choose to use a preformed pond, a pond liner or a natural pond with
no liner, you will first need to determine the size of your water
garden. The best method for determining the size and shape of your pond
is to use a rope to form the shape on the ground. Once you have
determined the layout, it is time to begin excavating for the pond.
The best pond will have 3 levels of water- a shallow area, a mid-level
and a deep level. The shallow area of the pond will encompass the outer
area of the pond. It should be no more than a foot and a half deep and
should be at least a couple of feet wide. The mid-level area of the pond
should be around 2 feet deep. This area should span approximately half
of the length and width of your pond. Lastly, the deepest point of the
pond should be over 2 feet deep. The deepest level will be where the
pond pump will be located.
Having different depths in your pond will ensure a variety of aquatic
animals, amphibians and birds can enjoy the water garden. If you will be
using plants in your water garden, you may want to consider adding a
ledge to the shallow area of the pond. This area should be between 9
inches and 12 inches deep and at least 18 inches wide. Place a few
stable rocks along the edge of this area to give birds, frogs and
turtles a place to enjoy.
After you have excavated your pond, it is time to begin adding water to
the pond. It will require quite a bit of water to fill your pond. Place
your water hose in the pond and open your water tap. Check on the water
level every hour until the pond is full. Once the pond is filled, a
dechlorinator should be added to the water to help remove the chlorine.
Oxygenating Your Water
There are many ways to increase the oxygen and nutrient levels in your
pond. One of the best ways is adding aquatic plants to the pond. Some of
the best plants include water hyacinths, water lilies and water purslane.
These plants help shade the pond and reduce the carbon dioxide levels in
the water naturally.
Another way to add oxygen to your water is with a fountain or a
waterfall. The water at the bottom of your pond is less oxygenated than
the water near the surface. The pump for a fountain or waterfall, will
pull water from the bottom of the pond up to the surface and oxygenate
Once you have dechlorinated your water, added plants and installed a
fountain or a waterfall, it is time to begin adding fish to your pond.
There are numerous fish that can be added to your pond, including
goldfish, Koi, sunfish, minnows and comets. Only add a few fish to the
pond at a time. If you will be adding small fish, such as minnows, you
can add around 18 fish when you first set up your pond. For larger fish,
like Koi, only add 2 to 3 fish at a time.
When you purchase your fish, place the bag of fish in the pond for about
20 minutes. This will help the fish acclimate to the pond's temperature.
Then, untie the bag and allow some water from the pond to enter the bag.
Slowly tip the bag up and allow the fish to swim out of the bag and into
the pond. The fish may be a little skittish at first, but they will
eventually swim out of the bag and into their new home. Allow these fish
to enjoy the pond for a week or two before introducing any new fish.
Then, follow the instructions listed above to add more fish to your
Encouraging Turtles and Frogs
Once your water feature is up and running, you can encourage amphibians
and reptiles to use your pond. Many times, frogs and turtles will find
your pond on their own; however, there are certain things you can do to
help them find it.
You have already provided the water they need, now it is time to provide
food. Placing bits of lettuce around the pond and adding earthworms to
the soil will provide the turtles with food. Frogs will naturally be
drawn to the pond, so nothing needs to be done to attract them.
In addition to providing food for these amphibians and reptiles, place
rocks and branches around the edge of your pond and out into the water.
This will give them a place to enjoy the pond and sun themselves. When
choosing rocks for your pond, find ones with a smooth flat surface to
help protect against accidental injury. Finally, incorporate a variety
of plants that hang over the edge of the pond to provide shade and
screen for the frogs.
Bringing in Birds
Birds will naturally be drawn to your pond. They will use your pond to
bathe in and drink from. It is important to provide a safe area for
these birds. The birds will use the shallower edge of your pond. Place a
few rocks about an inch below the surface. This will allow the bird to
safely bathe without the danger of falling in the pond and not being
able to get out.
Placing a bird feeder nearby will help increase the number of birds in
your yard. There are a number of different seeds available. These
include black oil sunflower seeds, thistle seed, millet and corn. The
different types of seed will attract different types of birds. For
example, cardinals enjoy sunflower seed, while finches prefer thistle
seed. You can use individual types of seed, or you can use a bird seed
mixture. The choice is yours.
A water feature is a great way to add enjoyment, beauty and value to
your home. Additionally, a water feature will allow you to invite a
variety of animals to your yard, including birds, fish, turtles and
frogs. Don’t just dream of a water feature. Get outside and make your
dreams come true!
About the Author
Jonathan Leger is a sponsored member of the Garden Writer's Association
and a gardening enthusiast. He runs a small site dedicated to the
history, education and care of a variety of roses at