garden pools

Garden Ponds: One of the least expensive way to create a water/land harmony outside in the viewing range of bedroom or living space is that of a garden pool or pond. One could say a fish pond but some prefer the sounds of amphibians (frogs and creepers) and these cannot coexist in the confined space of a small water enclosure. When building for frogs remember to have a gradual and not an abrupt siding so that animals and enter and leave at will. Whether choosing fish or frogs, some simple designs of exotic shapes can be created using plastic or cement or other materials. If fish are expected to remain through the winter then make it about three foot deep in normal climates -- though these depths are greater than allowed for pools without fences in some municipalities. Check local building codes.

Siting Considerations: Many prefer pools which have good sunlight (four to six hours a day). This may allow the growth of algae to assist in water oxygen content. A better approach though is to have less light and allow for a trickle or drip of water -- or have the pool as a basin for a waterfalls (much as a fountain effect). Birds are attracted to the sound of water, as well as the soothing effect on the nearby residents. They may be made in irregular shapes and with nearby plant arrangements along with benches and observation places. The pond may be the home of frogs and other water creatures as well. When shrubs, herbs and flowers are arranged nearby, the attracted birds and butterflies add an extra richness to the pond area. A number of wetland plants may be added to the pond or shoreline. If it gets too hot in the location during the summer, place a trellis with vines nearby to reduce the power of the afternoon sun. Some use ponds in summer and tanks in winter and thus consider the systems as complementary to each other.

Pool Surroundings: Much of the final success depends of how the pool is surrounded with flowers, bushes or wetland plants on the banks or on terraces on one side. Some recommend a clearing on at least one side so birds coming for a drink or bath will have a clear view. Generally one situates the pool at a distance from trees, especially those with shallow roots which tend to penetrate the water container. Also there is the falling leaves concern in the autumn.

Pool Care: The quality of the water is highly important. A solar recirculating system is good for aeration. If municipal water is used to fill the pool dechlorinate it (aeration will generally remove chlorinated materials) by standard methods or use cistern water. Clean pool in autumn. If shallow, transfer fish to an indoor fish tank. In warmer climates these can live throughout the year.

Ref. Thomas G. Barnes, Gardening for the Birds, "Woo Wildlife with Water," The University Press of Kentucky, 1999.