The Tribune - Spectrum


, June 16, 2002
Garden Life

Water features lend a cool touch
Satish Narula

Plan a water feature to enliven your garden
Plan a water feature to enliven your garden

A garden looks monotonous if it does not have some exciting features. The plants, the architectural features, stones and pebbles, etc, all become a routine sight after some time. However, a water feature in a garden always remains a thing of joy. Water features lend dynamism to the landscape. If a garden has a flowing stream, a waterfall or even a static pond, it becomes refreshing for the eyes.

Garden ponds can have the choicest of aquatic plants, statues, beautiful stones and to cap it all, beautiful fish. Water features can be carefully planned to be a combination of both the flora and fauna.

Water features can be planned according to any available space. Even those living in high-rise flats can develop them. Water features can be developed in two ways. One option is to have a static pond and the second to have running water which can be recirculated.

The former type of ponds can be developed in circular or rectangular structures made permanently at a spot or in small tubs, barrels, big cement pots or even in old bathroom cisterns. There are ready-made fibreglass ponds which could be buried in soil in a planned manner.

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It is very important to first select the site for such features. I have seen beautifully made wide cemented round pots donning lotus flowers kept right near the entry gate of a big industrial house. The concrete ponds, whether made high above the ground or dug deep below, should first be tested for any kind of leakage. This could be done by filling and leaving the pond with water for a few days. It is also important that any toxic element in the cement should be washed away before you put any plant or fish into the pond.

In case you do not want to spend too much on such structures, then there is another way. Dig a pit making small terraces downwards and spread thick black polythene lining in it, securing it by putting some weight, say a brick. Make sure it is not cracked or torn at any place. To make doubly sure that the water is not lost due to even a small puncture in the film, give it a double lining. The upper edge of the lining if left exposed to the sun will get burnt and otherwise too it does not look good. Camouflage it with round stones or else grow the trailing moisture-loving buddelia over it and let it spread on the edges. It gives tiny yellow flowers too.

Planting water plants in such ponds is very easy and there is a wide range of aquatic plants—hydrilla, salvinia typha and various colours of nympheas. The plants in the pond have to be secured at the bottom. The plants are put in a pot and then the pot is placed at the bottom. The whole pond is not filled in one go. The water is first added up to the level of leaves and then slowly the level is raised as the plants grow. You may require four to eight weeks to completely fill the pond. However, you will see, that even the process of flowering in such cases get enhanced, especially in case of nympheas.

In case of running water ponds, it has to be a concrete structure with deep pond, especially at the end where the suction pipe is inserted. Else such ponds should be wide and shallow with a small end that is kept deep. This is good from children’s security point of view too.

In the garden pond you can put fish, especially the golden fish which not only has a long life but is a very hardy species. If you’re worried about the malarial larvae breeding in such ponds, keep some gamboochias too. They merrily feed on mosquito larvae.