The Q&A Archives: Whiskey Barrel Water Garden For Novices

Question: I would like to make a whiskey barrel water garden this year but I don't know how or where to begin could you please help me? What kind of plants should I use and how should I put it together?

Answer: These small ponds can be a lot of fun. Since they are small, you need to be restrained in what you try to grow: a healthy pond must be in balance with regard to space as well as water quality. Look for smaller or dwarf varieties of plants such as water lilies, and limit your fish to just one or two small ones. Be sure not to skimp on underwater oxygenating plants, though, since they are critical to keeping the water clear and controlling algae. In general, try to shade about three quarters of the water surface with foliage. Since the water temperature in these small ponds tends to fluctuate with the air temperature, they are best sited where they are shaded a bit at midday during the summer to reduce the chance of overheating. They may also freeze solid in the winter, so you might consider bringing any fish indoors. Finally, while a small fountain or bubbler is not a requirement for success, it does add a lot to the overall effect. Be sure you have a ground fault interrupter (GFI) on your power source if you use a small pump and fountain. Most water garden suppliers offer kits and plant collections for making these little gardens, and their catalogs will give you even more ideas.

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