Ponds and pond plants are an attractive addition to any garden. There are many good reasons to consider them –
Reasons to have a Pond :
Pond Plants are Easy To Grow –
While there are some exceptions most water plants are remarkably easy to grow and also very fast to grow. Most will grow from even the smallest plant to a full sized plant in full flower within a single growing season. Maintenance is usually yearly at worst and watering is a simple as maintaining your pond level.
Water Lilies Flower Most Of The Year –
Water lilies have large attractive flowers and most good varieties produce a large number of them. Temperate Lilies flower from early Spring to early Autumn, Tropical lilies flower from late Spring to late Autumn and between the two you can have three out of four seasons of the year with attractive flowers. A few rare “long season” temperates” have even longer flowering seasons and even in our local temperate inland Hunter Valley NSW climate flower for most of the year in their own right and keep leaves on through winter. Very few flowering plants put on a display for as long as water lilies, and even fewer do so with such large attractive flowers.
Studies have shown that putting in a pond is the number one way to boost biodiversity and wildlife in your garden. Not only does it create habitat for frogs, dragon flies and other water animals adding water to your garden helps many other wild animals as well. All animals need to drink, and many like to bathe, birds in particular are attracted to gardens with water, and smaller birds like finches and wrens will often never travel more than a small distance from drinkable water. For many animals a garden without a pond is like a desert, while a pond is quite literally an oasis.
Things To Know About Ponds:
If you are interested in setting up a pond in your garden there are a few things you might need to consider.
Water Lilies Need Sun –
There are plenty of pond plants that like shade, but they are different to the ones that grow in the sun. If you want to grow water lilies, and you probably do, then you want to have a nice sunny position for your pond with at least 4 hours or more of direct full sun a day all through the warmer parts of the year.
Pond Liners –
You should use some form of plastic pond liner as your primary water proofing in most ornamental back yard ponds. Relying on water proofed cement or concrete shells almost inevitably leads to cracks and leaks as do most other methods of water proofing. Plastic lined ponds are by far the easiest to set up and the most reliable in the long term. A variety of different plastic liners are available, the cheaper options work fine, but expensive specialist pond liners do have notable advantages in puncture and UV resistance.
Ponds in a Pot –
An excellent and easy way to have a pond is to use a large water proofed container, like the large “lotus bowl” ceramic pots now available at our nursery and elsewhere. You can use most large water holding containers as ponds, Bowls, Plastic Tubs, Half wine barrels, old laundry tubs and bath tubs can all work fine. Though you should be a little careful using some sorts of metal containers and a certain sort of antique bath tub as a small minority can be poisonous to plant life. When selecting a container for a pond in a pot, more surface area is the most important thing, and you should pick a container where the top rim goes straight up or curves outward, inward curving rims tend to reduce the usefulness of a container as a pond. Half wine barrels need special methodology to fill and be kept full without their wooden slats causing major leakage.
Pond Depth –
Your pond does not need to be very deep. We advise that for most ornamental ponds the very deepest you need for “deep water” plants like large water lilies is only about 40-50cm (full depth to the bottom of the pond), and you can grow many of them in shallower water. Some local councils may have limits on unfenced pond depths, but usually even those limits are well within acceptable depths for growing lilies. You can increase the “usable” depth of your pond while retaining a shallower over all depth by using rocks, gravel and other porous materials such that you have an actual lined depth of 40-50cm, place potted plants on that bottom depth, then build up around the pots elevating the floor of the pond and reducing the depth while not raising the top of the pot or reducing the available depth above the crown of the plant for the lily to grow in.
Pond Plants as Potted Plants –
For the average lined ornamental pond or pond in a container we recommend you grow your lilies and most other plants (except Lotus) as potted plants. Most water plants and lilies thrive as potted plants and keeping them individually potted means that should you need to do any maintenance it is a great deal easier as all you need to do is pull out the pot, re-pot, feed, trim or what have you, and then return the pot to the water. If you were growing your plants lose in soil at the bottom of your pond simple re-potting is much harder and might even require draining the whole pond.
Earthen Lined Dams –
Many larger ponds or dams are lined with heavy clay walls instead of plastic liners. There are a number of differences in how plants grow in these circumstances. It will strongly influence the methodology you will need to use, the depths plants grow at, the sizes they reach and which plants you will want to select. Many plants in large dam environments can up to double the depth they grow in, and in many cases up to double the size they will grow to. Even a standard water lily will often produce leaves and flowers up to nearly twice the size in such an environment.
In earthen lined dams growing water plants as potted plants is much harder and has less benefits, you will mostly want to grow your water lilies directly in the soil of the dam walls as this increases their size and success rate in the differing environment. Due to the difficulty in keeping plants in their pots in such situations many plants we recommend for lined ponds can grow out of control in an earthen lined dam, such as native Milfoils and Lotus, so your plant selections will probably be effected. Similarly there are plants we only rarely recommend for ornamental ponds, like certain native reeds and rushes, which are highly beneficial in damns for roles like stabilizing edges against erosion or creating water bird habitat.
Earthen lined dams and larger dams can be a lot more difficult to establish plant populations in due to a number of factors, we recommend you talk to us and attempt to select the best varieties and best timing to give you the best chance to establish your plants. However once you do establish a plant population in a dam your pond plants and water lilies there will be much larger and stronger than your average ornamental pond and highly resistant to the most dramatic of changes in dam conditions.