Creating water gardens in small spaces

The sound of running water can create a soothing ambiance in your garden, but not everyone has the space for a pond. Before giving up on your dreams of a serene water feature, consider putting your water garden in a container to get around your troubles with small space gardening.

Selecting a container
When selecting a container for your water garden it is important to think creatively about the container itself – but it is also important to take practical concerns into consideration. Containers can be anything, ranging from large flower pots to an old galvanized bathtub or converted kiddie pool – as long as they can hold enough water to support the garden. Look for something that is at least 15 to 25 gallons for a balanced ecosystem. Choosing a container with a dark interior is also ideal, if possible, because the dark surface will give the illusion of depth and will help to slow algae growth.

Once you have chosen your container, place it in a location that you will be able to easily see from your patio or home so you can get the most enjoyment out of it. Don’t forget to consider how easily the container will be able to be refilled with water as it evaporates. Water weighs about eight pounds per gallon, so once you place the garden, you won’t be able to move it closer to your house so that it will be within range of the garden hose.

Choosing the plants
Aquatic plants cannot be thought of as perennial plants even if they grow naturally in your region because the containers are too shallow for them to be left outdoors throughout the winter. You will either need to store them indoors in a cool, dark basement or treat them as annual plants that you repurchase each summer. To create a visually interesting garden, look for a variety of emerging plants, such as water blue bells or small water lilies, and floating plants such as water hyacinths or water lettuce.

Adding fish
Fish are a fun addition to any water garden, whether it is a permanent feature or an experiment in container gardening, because they add an interesting and dynamic component to the garden, making it enjoyable to sit and watch. They also help to balance the ecosystem and eat mosquito larvae and algae that form in the garden. Look for mollies, guppies, platys or gambezi for container gardens because they stay relatively small and have lower oxygen demands. Consider adding a pump to your garden in order to ensure there is plenty of oxygen for your fish to filter.