Jan Bahr from Roadhouse Nursery on Central Valley Road recently showed us how to create water gardens in containers. You don’t need a huge piece of land or large construction equipment to enjoy a water garden feature. Smaller water gardens can be created in a bathtub, a waterproof and weatherproof container and even in containers with holes if the holes can be plugged and sealed and made waterproof.
Watch the water-gardening episode of Gardening with Peg to get some tips from Jan and see some beautiful examples.
What You’ll Need
- Sunny or shady location depending on plant choice
- Goldfish or mosquito dunks to control mosquitoes
Once you’ve selected the container, choose the location and remember that when filled with water, it will be heavy, so don’t plan on moving it very often, if at all. Some containers need to be emptied of plants and water during winter because ice expands and can damage the container.
The other thing to consider is placing the container where it can be viewed and enjoyed regularly. Think about a pathway that is walked or visited daily or at least several times a week. Think about a place where you can sit and contemplate and enjoy the plants and the fish.
Consider whether your neighborhood has raccoons, otters, herons or other fish-eating creatures nearby. If so, you’ll possibly not want to add fish to the water garden.
Roadhouse Nursery has an extensive selection of plants for water gardening. Spring and summer offer the very best selections, but other times of the year are good to visit too and find out more about future selections.
You can still create and plant up a water garden this time of year, just be aware that some of the plants will be going dormant soon.
Choose plants with varying features. Choose tall, medium and short heights. In the video, a four-leaf clover-type plant is shown. It is actually related to ferns. Water lilies are always a good choice, but remember, they love sunny locations, so would not work well in the shade. Tall, upright plants are also needed for extra interest.
Plants for water gardening require different water depths. Some like to be submerged completely in water. Others like to be partly in the water with their foliage mostly sticking out of the water. Still others have roots completely in water and their foliage floating on the top of the water.
Mosquitoes are perhaps the only problem found in water gardening. This is easily handled by either adding goldfish or by using mosquito dunks (a form of Bt — a bacteria that kills mosquito larvae). Mosquito dunks are considered nonharmful to people, pets and plants, but read all directions carefully.
If fish are chosen to control mosquitoes, remember that fish need places to hide among the plants and also need to be rescued if a water garden were to freeze solid during a rough winter.
Storing Plants in Winter
Some water-gardening plants are more tender than others. Choose accordingly. Some can be brought into a garage for winter protection, others are very cold hardy, but will go dormant. Roadhouse Nursery has good plant care instructions listed for its plants.