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Jul 11, 2011 6:20 PM CST
|I always meant to write an article on this, but never got around to it, so I'll put some of the basic parts here.|
Ponds are very difficult to build here, short of concrete, which is difficult everywhere. We have the wrong kind of soil for earthen ponds, so that leaves preformed and liners. Both of them require that you remove all of the sharp rocks from your hole, which is impossible for us since we have better than 50% rock in the ground (ancient river bed).
The answer for us was the stock tank, which I've been using for many years in many other capacities. They come in all sizes, are easy and inexpensive (relative to the cost of pond liners and such) and don't puncture just because there's a few rocks underneath and around them. For this project I was looking for a small waterlily pond. It has to be deep for overwintering plants and fish (I don't heat it in the cold winters), and for thwarting the birds and wildlife that home in on unprotected fish, destroying the plants in the process. We chose a small, 100 Gallon Rubbermaid type--$50 at Ranch & Home.
These are freestanding, long lasting, and can be used to stash a pond anywhere you like, above ground or below. You can build a brick wall facade around it for a formal look, or frame it however you like.
Jul 11, 2011 6:31 PM CST
|We wanted to place it in the ground, so first we flipped it upside down and carved the outline in the ground with the shovel. Then we started to dig it out.|
As we got to right depth we started squaring off the sides. The tank could be lowered in temporarily to check our fit and depth. Leveling the bottom was a fair bit of work in itself, because of the rocks. I used a long board and a level with the tank inserted to verify that all edges were at the same depth. You can see the pile of rocks to the side. All smaller rocks and gravel were removed with the soil.
Jul 11, 2011 6:39 PM CST
|You can see in the previous picture where I tamped down the soil by jumping on it. Your soil may vary, but be aware that any soil you add back while leveling the pond will settle, especially when all of the water weight sits on it. I always run a fill test on any tank or pond I build and let the water sit for a week. If it's still level after a week, I back fill the dirt in the gaps around the edges (with the tank still full) and water it in good to help it settle.|
Jul 11, 2011 6:53 PM CST
|Edge it however you like (I used rocks I dug out of the hole and split with a 20lb. maul), and transfer your cured water and plants. As with any pond, I start with a few mature plants and existing pond water where possible, and add clean (not chlorinated) water day by day until the pond is full. Aeration is critical in a pond this small, so a small fountain or bubbler can really help. Water lilies don't like troubled water much, though, so I ofter run an air line and an underwater power head to move things around, when I'm not pumping the water in and out as part of another loop.|
(Small) fish keep the plants happy and take care of mosquitoes. I like to drop a few large comet feeder goldfish in. You can see I used mature tropical waterlilies to break in the pond, but eventually I swapped them for new hardy waterlilies that have been happy there for the last three years. The fish, too, overwinter each year. I don't feed them, but I do feed the waterlilies each year.
Jul 11, 2011 7:12 PM CST
|I do agree with the use of stock tanks for container gardening. Unfortunately for me, I live in Hawaii, so the cost of these is much much more! Here is an old photo of what I have. Most are in 30- 50 gallon range.|
Jul 11, 2011 7:16 PM CST
|That's quite a collection of tanks you have there. Just one of many things that are more expensive in Hawaii, I suppose. Do your lilies bloom year round, then?|
Jul 11, 2011 7:25 PM CST
|I have probably doubled what was shown in that photo. Here it's about $1/gallon. I would kill to be able to get 100 gals for $50! Most of my tropicals should go year round. Not sure about my hardys as I've only gotten them this year.|
Jul 11, 2011 11:09 PM CST
|Many of the viviparous tropicals do well for me overwintered in a cool greenhouse, but they can still go dormant and never come out if I let the water get too cool. They're the first and last thing to bloom for me every year. I need to repot this year; they've grown right out of the soil.|
Jul 12, 2011 6:33 AM CST
|I had trouble with tropicals - my fish kept eating the tropicals right down to the pot they were in. They never ate my hardy waterlilies. I have come to the conclusion the tropicals must taste better.|
Jul 12, 2011 6:46 AM CST
|About 3 years ago, I made a nice little pond from a 50 gallon stock tank. Since I wanted it to have a sort of tropical/jungle feel, I planted it lushly with interesting plants. |
It's mostly all in shade. I've tried all sort of plants in the pond itself, but everything seems to die pretty quickly. It currently has 4 goldfish, a couple of minnows, and 3 huge bullfrogs.
Jo-Ann - Gardening in New Orleans
Jul 12, 2011 10:52 AM CST
|I haven't had any luck with shaded ponds. Seems like most everything I want to put in them needs lots of light. Sometimes I can get away with water hawthorn, which also prefers cooler water and seems to be pretty tough. It has sweet smelling little white flowers and multiplies in my ponds by seed.|
Jul 12, 2011 11:30 AM CST
|The viviparous ones also are much better performers for me (I have 10 varieties). For the most part, they are much more resistant to being overcrowded and rootbound. Many of my non-viviparous ones (8 varieties) just don't do as well in the same conditions. They'll grow, but they never get to a point where they are consistently flowering. I have to keep them in containers by themselves to really get them going nicely. They also seem to need much bigger pots as well. Once they get heavily rootbound, they tuber up and I have to start all over again...|
I have a couple of tubers that went into dormancy and never got out of it... they just have a bunch of teeny tiny leaves, but they never create surface ones.... it drives me bonkers because I don't know how to get them out of it. I force many of my plants to make tubers, break them off and it's no problem to make a plant. The others came to me as tubers and never got out of it.... ugh...
For an unrelated question, what kind of containers do you guys use for your hardies?
Jul 12, 2011 11:40 AM CST
|I tend to use the 12" square baskets, though I've planted in everything from standard black nursery pots to surgically altered milk jugs. I plant the hardies in one corner pointed at the other corner because I don't want to have to repot more often than I absolutely have to.|
Jul 12, 2011 12:10 PM CST
|Thanks for the head up. I've been using standard pots, but they are just not wide enough... I'm thinking about using dish tubs since they are relatively cheap.|
I also use all kinds of strange vessels for planting. If it can hold soil and doesn't have holes, I'll use it. I grow a lot of viviparous ones, so I'm one of those folks who grows plants in the 10 oz plastic drinking cups... I started off with 3 oz ones and they work for some varieties, but too much repotting... The ones I sell are either in 6 inch pots or 32oz plastic containers transplanted from the 10oz ones.
Jul 12, 2011 8:00 PM CST
|I use the waterplant baskets - the ones with the sides that allows the exchange of water. The waterlilies are planted in gravel with egg rock on the top so my fish cannot uproot the plants. DH put 'handles' of coated bellwire on the sides so that the pots of waterlilies can be removed from the pond without having to get into the pond.|
I also like to use the once a year fertilizer stakes. I know if I had to fertilize the waterlilies monthly or every other month - they would be fertilized each spring - March/April and then probably not again. This works well for me as my understanding is that waterlilies are heavy feeders.
Jonathan - I was wondering if any of your waterlilies are fragrant?
Jul 13, 2011 12:04 PM CST
A lot of the varieties that I have are very fragrant. They seem to smell the strongest on day 1 and 2. The two varieties that instantly come to mind are "Albert Greenberg" and "King of Siam." You don't even need to be by the flowers to smell them. I can't think of any that I have that have no smell at all.
Because i have so many plants, when i get a massive bloom and a nice breeze, the whole yard smells like them!
Jul 13, 2011 4:43 PM CST
I'll bet they smell wonderful. I have some that are supposed to be fragrant as well, but I can't get at them to see.
Jul 13, 2011 7:13 PM CST
|Ugh... Although I can honestly say I wish I had that problem But then I'd have even MORE plants!!!|
Jul 13, 2011 7:45 PM CST
|If I had a pond the size of Carolyn's, it would probably be full of Victorias and Euryale.|
Jul 13, 2011 7:49 PM CST
|Or how about a Black Princess?|