Page 145 - 2017-greengate-Gardensense-magazine
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Choosing the pond
Molded ponds come in many sizes and shapes and are easy to install. Flexible liner gives more variation in size and shape but is a little more work to install. Recently, lighter but very durable pond liners have come on the market. You might want to look into them before you choose. Cement pools are not practical in our area. Our rapidly changing weather causes cracks that are expensive and difficult to repair. Size depends on available space and your needs. Outline the area it is to go into with a garden hose or thick rope to visualize it. Most garden ponds are 18-24 inches deep. By law, in Calgary, a pond 24 inches or deeper requires a 6 foot, lockable fence.
Construction of a pond
1) Outline the shape of your pond, dig deeper and wider than the pond needs and line the bottom with damp sand, old carpet or layers of newspaper.
2) Place the molded pond so that the edge is at the surrounding level, or add the flexible liner, pleating it to fit. Warming the liner in sun for several hours will make this easier.
3)Fill the pond 1/3 full, easing the pond into position. Use a level to be sure the pool will be level. A longboard across the pool will make leveling easier.
4)Pack soil firmly around it to the proper depth, secure edges and cover with a material that looks natural in your garden - stone, wood, brick, etc. Marginal plantscan soften the edges and create a natural appearance.
Note: A ground-fault interrupter must be on new homes, and is recommended for older ones, on the outside breaker box.
Pumps, sprays, waterfalls
Moving water prevents algae from forming and aerates the water for fish and plants. Re-circulating pumps keep water moving for sprays, bubblers, creeks, waterfalls, etc. An easily removed filter will make it much simpler to keep it clean.
Note: The water in a pond should be re-circulated at least once an hour, which means a 450-gallon pond should have at least a 450 GPH (Gallons Per Hour) pump.
Care of ponds
Remove rotting, floating leaves, grass clippings, and other debris but be careful not to stir up the water. Some ponds rarely need cleaning and will stabilize after a few days and become clear, particularly if fish and plants are present. If there are no plants and fish, the pond must be cleaned regularly. A little liquid detergent floating on the surface can be used to eliminate mosquito larvae, if there are no plants or fish in the pond.
Our water is generally safe for human consumption. This means that there are a few additives. Not all water is safe for aquatic life. For this reason, it’s a good idea to treat the water using the procedures provided with pond care kits.
Winter maintenance
With Calgary’s cold winters, fish and water plants will not survive outdoors, unless a trough heater is used. Fish can be kept in an aquarium for the winter. Bring them inside before the first frost and put them back outside after danger of any frost. Water plants can be over-wintered or replaced the next season for variety. Plants to be stored should be removed from ponds after first frost. Ensure that the plant’s root ball is moist and wrap with burlap or loose plastic bag with some air circulation. Store the plant in a cool place, about 5 degrees Celsius, until the possibility of frost has passed and replace in pond.
Water plants
Plants add colour and interest to a pond, reduce algae by shading water, reduce evaporation and release oxygen, which is used by fish. Do not use too many plants, however; some open water should be visible.
Water lilies
Water lilies can be grown in ponds for the summer. Tropical water lilies do not do well here, as they cannot tolerate our cool nights. Hardy ones thrive, however, and may be treated as annuals or kept over the winter indoors. Water lilies must be grown in a sunny spot and prefer still water, so should not be near the pump, bubbler, or sprayer.
Plant the lily in a pot with heavy clay soil, cover the surface with sharp sand or pea gravel and place in not more than 2 ft. (60 cm) of water. When planting in the pot, do not cover the crown of the plant with soil.
There is no need for drainage holes in the pot. It is already under water. Special baskets are available, but you can use plastic kitchenware, or burlap lined wire baskets. Special fertilizer tablets are available to put into the bottom of the container before planting. Water lilies are heavy fertilizer users.
Oxygenators are the pond’s filter system. They use nitrogen before the algae can use it, and add oxygen needed by fish. They can be potted, or float with their roots and stems submerged and flowers above water.
Marginal bog plants
Plants at the edge of a pond should look natural, as if they grew there. The area around a pond is not usually wet, as a natural bog would be. A trough of PVC around the pond edge with no drainage, containing dense soil, can be used but it must be consistently damp and must be checked regularly. It is easier to use plants which tolerate drier soil that mimic typical bog plants. Ornamental grasses and irises look very attractive around ponds, but they need good drainage.
NOTE: See our website for more details on ponds.

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