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Outdoor Water Features

From elaborate in-ground ponds to small patio water features,
it's easy to create a serene spot in your backyard

You can create an outdoor water feature no matter what size space you have to work with. Patio fountains and container water gardens may be any size and can be made from just about any type of materials. Larger-scale ponds and water gardens entail a bit more expense and effort, but if you have space, they're a wonderful addition to the backyard.

First, determine what type of water feature will work best for you. It's basically a decision between fish or plants and active or still. Aquatic plants need a sedentary setting; one that will allow the water to stabilize with little human interference. Fish will thrive in an active setting with pumps, filters, fewer plants, and moving water.

Second, are you prepared to live with the possibility of mosquito larvae in a water garden? Goldfish consume these pests, but your non-active water garden may become a prime breeding ground. There is some debate about the usefulness of a species called mosquito fish. They consume mosquito larvae as well as other types of small fry, including their own babies. While offered free from wildlife agencies in some areas, the issue is over whether they do more harm to the environment than good.

Purchase patio fountains for small spaces as a unit or create your own. Inexpensive circulating pumps provide the calming sounds of a bubbling brook as water spills from one container to another. Copper or ceramic pots make decorative fountains and are easy to maintain. They need to be near an electrical source for pump operation.

Tabletop fountains work well indoors and out. Look for kits at your local home improvement store as well as gift shops and garden centers.

Solar pump units are ideal for placing a water feature further out in the yard or if no electrical source is available. They work well with many different water feature arrangements.

Ponds require a bit more research and a few essential supplies. If you are creating a pool for plants, then the area should receive sunlight about 6 hours each day. However, you need enough floating plants to cover the surface of the water to prevent light from penetrating. Too much light and algae will bloom. This type of pond takes a few months to establish the proper nutrient balance, and the water should never be changed or that underwater life force will have to start all over again.

Fish ponds require the same basic setup as plant ponds. Begin with a marked location that is dug to at least 18 inches in depth, preferably more. You can purchase rubber or PVC flexible liners or a pre-formed hard plastic tub. Koi, a popular choice, will eat most plants, but you can install layers of plants above ground for decoration.

Use landscaping rocks to build height around the pool. At one end, you'll have the perfect spot for a waterfall and a place to camouflage pumps and filters. Moving water is essential for mosquito control and continuous filtration.

You can complete most fountain or pond projects in a weekend or two. It's a project the entire family can enjoy and will add a true wildlife environment to your backyard.


 

 

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