Irises For Water Gardens

IMG 2624 Irises For Water Gardens

Irises are the perfect water garden plants for the novice pond owner, and thrive to the point of over abundance in almost any water garden!  Here is a list of some of my favorite Irises for water gardens, all of these are great places to begin when filling a pond.

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How Do I Choose Between Koi and Goldfish For My Backyard Pond?

img 1343 488x1024 How Do I Choose Between Koi and Goldfish For My Backyard Pond?

There are many varieties of fish that work well in backyard ponds, but the two most popular and easily kept fish are members of the Carp family; Koi and Goldfish. Both brightly colored and friendly, these fish make lively additions to a backyard pond, but their needs and behavior in the pond make them suitable to different environments.

While the immediately obvious difference between Koi and Goldfish is the relative size of each mature species, there are many different aspects of water gardening that should be taken into consideration when choosing the correct pond fish for your garden pond. These are the top five points I ask my clients to consider when they are selecting fish varieties for their garden ponds and fountains, and they will help you identify the best fish for you and your water feature.

Pond Construction:

The average backyard pond holds a few hundred gallons max, and is either a prefabricated form, or a hand dug pit covered by pond liner. For a pond to hold any fish, the middle of the pond should have a depth of at least 3-4 feet, to provide the fish with hibernation room, and places to hide from predators and hot summer weather. Goldfish can thrive in a pond of this approximate size and depth, while Koi breeders recommend a pond to hold a minimum of 2000 gallons for schools of Koi, a dramatically larger size than the average homeowner can fit in their yard. Another rather unusual problem that Koi can have is the issue of sunburn. A deep pond is necessary for housing Koi schools because the fish are prone to sunburn in shallow water, and can die from too much exposure to direct sun rays.

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Book Review: “An Essential Guide to Choosing Your Pond Fish and Aquatic Plants”

guide to aquatic life book cover 300x300 Book Review: “An Essential Guide to Choosing Your Pond Fish and Aquatic Plants”I found this great light read recently on everything pond related, and made sure to add it to my gardening shelf! This hard-cover book, An Essential Guide to Choosing Your Pond Fish and Aquatic Plants, Book Review: “An Essential Guide to Choosing Your Pond Fish and Aquatic Plants” is 80 glossy pages of photos and tips guaranteed to help you build and run a successful pond or water feature, and take your water gardening skills to the next level buy introducing you to a wider variety of fish and plant life to build a dynamic backyard ecosystem!

Covering topics ranging from water feature creation, plant selection, fish varieties, and DIY tips for the weekend water gardener, this book is thorough and written simply and concisely. The format is easy to read, but with an information pool of a much larger book. The chapters are broken down by topic, and each point is illustrated thoroughly through detailed photographs and step by step instructions, or one sentence tips in the photo margins. The basic pond topics are expanded to provide new information for every level of water gardener, while not overwhelming the novice. The writing and visual style of this book is unique, as it alternates between classic paragraph style and and almost scrapbook feel on pages heavier in photography, with tips and pointers artistically arranged around diagrams and pictures.

This book is a great resource for every water gardener, and one that I recommend for the home library for quick topical searches. I particularly appreciated the full page spreads dedicated to the needs and habits of pond fish varieties, and the section on pond and bog plants that included many native plants unmentioned in other pond resources I have read! Check it out today at your local library or on amazon, and create a beautiful water feature around your home or apartment.

Using Barley Bales to Get Rid of Algae in Your Pond or Water Garden

ground hog trap barley balls fish water ponds 010 225x300 Using Barley Bales to Get Rid of Algae in Your Pond or Water Garden

Going “green” with your backyard pond this year can mean a cleaner conscience, and a cleaner pond!  Of course, no one likes a green pond, when the “green” we are talking about is string algae, and pond scum!  Aside from taking away from the aesthetics of your tranquil oasis, dealing with algae means constant additions of safe chemicals that won’t harm your pond plants and fish, and cleaning both filters and rocks on a regular basis.

After years of balancing the chemical ratios in several of the ponds that I oversee professionally, and struggling to keep algae under control in a few ponds that were constructed poorly, I finally made the switch to Barley Bales  Using Barley Bales to Get Rid of Algae in Your Pond or Water Gardenthis past summer, and I’m never looking back.  While I am always looking for cleaner and greener products, I confess, most often I’m just looking for a product that makes life easier!  Barley Bales are a long lasting, fish and plant safe, chemical alternative, for keeping algae out of your pond or water-garden.

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Bringing Up Baby; Mallard Style

picture 031 300x200 Bringing Up Baby; Mallard Style

One of the areas I manage is a complex that features a large enclosed courtyard, with lush vegetation, and a small pond with a waterfall.  Last summer, a pregnant Mallard came to scope out the courtyard with her mate only a few weeks after the construction was finished.  She and her mate would sit on tree mounds, and in garden beds on one side of the courtyard or the other, to watch the people pass by, and search the bushes for likely nesting places.  Regardless of the constant human traffic through this area, she latched on to this spot as the perfect location for her family. After several weeks of her frequent visitations, she disappeared for a time, only to reappear with babies in tow. The entire summer, she and her ducklings camped out “poolside,” by the tiny water feature, awaiting the free Saltines and cracked corn that come with Condo living for puddle ducks.  All fall and winter, the apartment dwellers where she had taken up residence were placing wagers on the likelihood that she would return, and hoping to see her again.

picture 078 300x200 Bringing Up Baby; Mallard Style

This year, “Lil’ Momma”, as we call her, hatched 12 babies, so she has been incredibly busy watching overall of them, as they investigate their world in twelve different directions at once. It seems like they have designated “exploration time” with Lil’ Momma, as well as a special time for sunbathing, and swimming lessons.  Momma keeps them in line, and on target with each new activity, and with only one or two quiet peeps from her, everyone moving as one unit toward the next activity with no questions asked.

Initially the tiny pond they were paddling around was amply large to teach ducklings how to swim, and properly dabble at the water’s edge.  I had to wonder how the family would continue to fit in the pond, as the duckling grew in size.  Last year’s ducklings stayed through late July, and never attempted flight. I ended up personally assisting several of them on their way to a larger pond on the premises, where I hoped that they would learn to fly, and socialize with the other water birds.  The photo at right was taken about two months ago of Lil’ Momma, and her kids.  Right now, the Mother duck is still very protective of them, even though they have grown to a size approximate to hers! As you can see in the picture below, they are currently packed in the pond like sardines for their “All Swim” sessions!

img 0241 300x225 Bringing Up Baby; Mallard Style

I’m not sure how much longer I’ll let them be where they are, since the young ducks don’t have room in the enclosed courtyard to learn to fly, and with the constant supply of food handed over to them, are not learning to fend for themselves.  Thursday of last week, I went into the courtyard to replenish the bowl of corn for them, and discovered that one of Lil’ Momma’s daughters from last year had just hatched her own brood in the courtyard, and had her own duckling paddling around the pond.

Watching the full-sized ducklings bum crackers off the passers by, and the day old “newbies” circle their protective, young mother in the pond, I’m reminded of a Shel Silverstein poem entitled “Crowded Tub!”