The Q&A Archives: Bathtub Water Garden

Question: We have an old white bathtub we'd like to use as a pond or water garden. Can it stay white, or does it need to be painted black? How will the water plants do?

Answer: If you plan to sink the tub into the ground, it should serve quite well as a pond. If it's above ground, consider it a warm-season garden ornament because the water will freeze hard during the winter and kill your plants. The tub can stay white, but expect it to turn green with algae growth within a year. Pond liners are black because they fool the eye into thinking the water is much deeper than it really is. It's an aesthetic thing, rather than a functional thing. Most any water plants will do okay in your tub, but some aquatic plants require a water depth of four or more feet in order to grow well, and to be able to winter over. A layer of ice on the top of the pond in winter won't hurt plant roots that are several feet below the surface, but a shallow pond will freeze completely and may kill the plants. Enjoy!

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