Sunday, June 15, 2008

Making a Splash-Waterfalls and Plants

Because waterfalls and plants are so dependant upon tastes I have decided to combine these categories. For instance, in waterfalls, you may prefer a big splash of water from one location while another may prefer a gentle spill across a wide area. In plants, one might prefer a subtle look while another chooses to make a bold statement with large, colorful plants. As you can see, there will be choices to make, from subtle to bold and everything in between.

Let’s talk first about waterfalls. I prefer the sound of the gentle waterfall. My main waterfall has a small, gravel covered pool near the top, where birds can drink and bathe. The pool is then bordered by Arrowroot and River Rush which spreads through the crevices of the fall and creates a gentle spill into the pond. This waterfall spreads gently into a slope for a softer fall.

Mosquitoes lay their larvae in still or almost still water, so the gentle waterfall does little to move the water enough to discourage them from visiting. To counteract this problem, I have also added a bubbler to the center of the large pond. The bubbler doesn’t distract much from the waterfall, but makes a big difference in the movement of the water.

The smaller pond has become more of a filtration system than it is used as a pond. The waterfall into the small pond is more upright and has further to “fall”. Much of the debris that makes it through the pump in the large pond settles to the bottom of the small pond, leaving the top water clear as it flows into the river and finally back into the large pond.

The river has a gravel bottom and is peppered throughout its length with larger rocks, Arrowroot and Parrots Feather, to further filter the water before it reaches the end of the river. The water at the end of the river is then slowed by thick plantings of Louisiana Iris and Arrowroot, before falling gently into the large pond.

All of this works together to give plenty of movement to the water in the ponds. A single sharp fall of water could do the same job. By creating a more upright fall with a single or only a few rocks jutting out over a long drop into the pond you can get more movement and much more splash. This bigger splash translates into more water movement from a single space. Of course the bigger the splash, just like with color, the louder the sound of the fall.

The choice of a faster fall over a slower fall is certainly subjective. So the next consideration will be in the cost and strength of the pump. A faster waterfall will need a stronger (or faster) pump to move the water quickly through the pump and reach the proper height of the fall. A sloped waterfall is well suited to a filtration system at the fall because you will want the water to enter the filter more slowly. has everything you need for your pond, including the pond itself.

Waterfalls add necessary oxygen to the life within the pond and when creating the sloped waterfall and adding plants into the fall itself, it also acts as a filter. The plants roots and stems will filter out some of the less desirable bacteria that finds its way through the filter, while at the same time introduce beneficial bacteria and oxygen to your pond.

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, plants are subject to tastes. Yet, for the healthiest pond, there are a few rules to follow. There are three types of plants: Floating plants, marginal plants and submerged plants. Floating plants might include water lettuce, duckweed or water hyacinth. Marginal or bog plants will have the widest variety of choices, including the monster cattails. Finally, submerged plants, often called oxygenating plants.

When thinking of floating plants, it is important to note that for the best results for keeping algae out of the pond, you want 50% coverage of the top water. Water hyacinth spreads rapidly in my area to give quick cover to the pond. My sister uses duckweed to offer cover in her California pond. She says it covers her pond so quickly that she has to forcefully thin it out every week.

Marginal plants might include Louisiana Iris, Pickerel, Arrowroot or just about any plant that will grow in moist to wet soil. If you live in a tropical area, you will have a vast number of choices including taro, umbrella and canna. Many garden centers will offer tropical plants for ponds in non-tropical areas, however they will have to be brought inside to over-winter or considered annual plants.

Submersed plants are great for catching deep debris and algae, helping to keep your pond water clear and clean, not to mention that many, like hornwort, parrots feather and anacharis are great spawning areas for the fish. I suppose water lily falls into the category of submersed plant, though with its burst of beautiful blooms throughout the summer months, it’s hard to compare with parrots feather.

When planting pond plants it is best to use “old soil”. That would be the heavy dirt out of your garden rather than using a potting mix. A potting mix is too light and will quickly float out of your planters and dirty your pond. You can buy special pots made for the pond or you can use regular plastic garden pots. When potting, layer the bottom of the pot with small gravel, add the soil and plant, then top it off with another layer of gravel. This will keep your plants and dirt inside the pots.

Before introducing any plants into your pond be sure to check local recommendations and prohibitions as some plants can become invasive.

If you remember that your pond is three stories tall, you will have a healthy and beautiful pond for many years to come.


~ Charlene S Noto said...

Absolutely gorgeous!

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Buy ponds said...

Wow this is really beautiful.