Details... details.... details
Rocks, lighting, pumps, flowers, fish and of course water!
Now that the liner has settled overnight we move into the fun part! All the wonderful and exciting extras that make your pond an ecological, fun and beautiful addition to your yard. The biggest consideration is hiding the edges of the liner, there are many ways to do this, lets start with the most obvious.
Natural rocks: big, small, boulder size to pebbles, when mixed make a pond look and feel like it is an intricate piece of the landscape, one that has been in existence since the beginning of time. The picture is of a lake in Saskatchewan, note the plant life is interspersed among the rocks and in the crevices. Gravel is a nice touch but it collects litter, sludge and is very difficult to clean on a large-scale. It is your pond so it is your choice but you have been warned!
Purchased rock edgings: these are most often cut stone, obviously more expensive than natural rock, they are more formal in feel but often create a more stable platform. The choice really depends on budgets, ambiance, and personal choice.
Wood: makes the backyard pond look like a dock. Very cool if you are handy with construction.
Brick: Old brick is amazing for the platform of a pond. It is not easy to come by in Saskatchewan but if you can find some, its well worth the hassle of laying.
Grasses and flowers: Another viable option for edging the pond, they make access more difficult, one side of my pond is bog garden, my only complaints are the difficulty in weeding, it's a perfect place for fish hunters to hide.
Mosaic's have become popular again but they are time-consuming, require specialized tools, and skills (that I do not have).
A few more things to think about before purchasing the lovely accessories.
Lighting kits are available for placement before finishing the edges and filling. I use solar lights and floating candles but if you can and want to install lights around the edges go for it! Make sure you use the proper grounding and lights intended for exterior use.
Water plants... ok, call me captain obvious your zone and size of the pond matters. On the Canadian prairies no water plants survive, so at the beginning of the season an important consideration is what to do with the plants and fish?
If you are ok with allowing them to become compost buy whatever makes you happy, if you are determined to see them survive another season, be choosier. I have had great successes and dismal failures, with keeping plants over winter. In the 17 years of pond life 2012 was the only winter my fish met demise. An early onset of freezing weather, 5 feet of snow did not allow me the opportunity of moving them in... it doesn't help my commute is 6 hours.
Which, I hope answers the burning question care. My garden, plants, pond and all are all low maintenance. My fish are fed daily through the summer but once the weather begins to cool they go down to a few times a week, until they are brought in for the winter. Fish will go into a hibernation state if stored in large containers in a cool place. They do not get fed, unless they become active on the weekends, until the weather begins to warm up. I think its innate somehow that they can tell spring is coming!
Tips for maintenance:
Use specialized pond soil. It does cost more but it doesn't make the water dirty and full of floating particles that encourage fungi and sludge buildup.
Let the water sit a couple of days before adding fish.
I clean all the rocks and pond in the spring as soon as the weather is warm, usually my fish are first in and then the plants, but the depth of the pond allows for a few inches of ice without hurting the fish.
I use barley pellets and charcoal bits in bags to help keep the water clear. It works like a charm and is great to compost at the end of the year.
Storms tend to bring in 'litter' leaves and such, that decompose and make the water unhealthy, I scoop as many leaves as possible throughout the season but if you find the pond is getting murky despite your attempts empty about 1/3 of the water and add fresh water. It works for some reason.
Use caution with fish food. If uneaten food is left in the water it alters the pH and can make your fish sick.
Adding a Bog Garden Area:
A bog garden is a marsh like attachment to the side of the pond. It is primarily used for plants that love wet but can't directly sit in the water.
The bog addition can be as big or as little as you want, the one i have attached to my pond is about 8x20, but even a small corner looks great.
Dig the garden about 18 inches down, puncture a liner with a few holes, (or use an old one that has a few holes already) layer two inches of dirt, two inches of sphagnum moss, a thin layer of vermiculite and about 2 inches of compost, wet it as you go, so the moss soaks up the water and retains the wet, continue until the liner is covered, and then add another layer. Soak it until the mixture looks like mud. Allow it to sit overnight and plant within the next day or two.
The five plants for a bog garden:
1. Fern's - go with the zone and you are away
2. Solomons Seal - can vary in height but they are beautiful
3. Hosta's- vary in size, shape, colour and sun requirements ( i have 20 varieties and they are all wonderful)
4. Iris's- a vast array of Iris's exist, the yellow water Iris has overwintered in my bog garden for three years, it dies off every year but returns with shoots in the spring. They have different needs so make sure they match your zone and sun requirements.
5.Creeping Charlie- a ;pw growing prolific with yellow blossoms. It does well in shade or sun. Mine makes its way into the pond where it covers the rocks in its natural form.
We just got a taste of plants there are lots more to come in the next article about plants.