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Creating Esthetically Pleasing Water Gardens and Pools

Creating Esthetically Pleasing Water Gardens and Pools

Water gardens or garden pools have grown increasingly popular in the United States as integral elements of landscape architecture. These visually soothing water features not only connect people to the natural aquatic realm but also offer limitless design and planting possibilities, making each water garden personal and unique.

Choosing the Right Location

The location of a water garden directly affects its ecology, maintenance, and overall enjoyment. Plants within the garden pool require sunlight for photosynthesis. These plants play a vital role in the water garden’s ecosystem by producing oxygen, recycling nutrients, and providing shade and shelter for fish and other aquatic life. Ideally, a water garden should receive at least six hours of sunlight each day.

However, positioning the garden to avoid direct midday sunlight during the warmest months can prevent shallow pools from overheating. Ensure that the water garden is visible from the house for added enjoyment and supervision. It is also important to control access to the garden for the safety of children and to easily identify unwelcome visitors like predators.


Avoid placing water gardens over utility services; consult with utility companies to determine the location of underground lines. Additionally, do not situate a water garden directly under trees, as the roots can hinder excavation and cause structural damage in the future. Leaves and overhanging branches can also introduce debris and toxic substances into the water.

Deciding on Depth and Shape

The depth of a water garden should take into account the design vision, local climate, and over-wintering strategies. Many year-round outdoor water gardens feature a section at least 3 or 4 feet deep to prevent freezing in the winter and provide a cool retreat for fish during hot weather. Large koi carp particularly benefit from cooler areas to prevent color loss and stress during warmer months.

Water gardens can be irregular or geometric in shape. Irregularly shaped gardens showcase a natural appearance, while geometric shapes evoke a more formal look. Experiment with different designs using a garden hose or rope before beginning construction.

Construction and Costs

Water garden construction can range from simple to complex. Fiberglass or concrete water gardens require substantial construction skills, while earthen and plastic liner pools demand less expertise. Many commercial firms that sell water garden equipment also offer consulting services for design, construction, and maintenance. Utilize both available resources and personal creativity to design a water garden that complements your imagination and preferences.

Water gardens can be expensive to build and maintain, with construction costs varying based on size and materials used. Costs can range anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Ensure that the proposed garden complies with all local building codes by having construction plans reviewed by local governmental agencies.

Water Quality and Maintenance

Maintaining good water quality is essential for the garden's health and aesthetic appeal. Poor water quality can damage fish, plants, and the overall visual attraction. Understanding the basics of water quality allows for minimal time spent on maintenance.

One primary consideration is a good quality water supply for filling the pool. Use city water or well water instead of water from creeks or ponds to avoid contaminants, diseases, or wild fish that may harm the garden ecosystem. If city water is required, dechlorinate the water before introducing fish and plants.

Avoid overcrowding the water garden with too many fish. A water garden can support fish only if it provides enough oxygen and efficiently decomposes produced waste. Factors influencing the number of fish the garden can support include the water garden's size, fish size, temperature, sunlight exposure, aeration, and the effectiveness of the filtration system.

A well-designed water garden grants a tranquil and serene natural environment for urban spaces. It serves as an avenue for creative expression while allowing individuals an opportunity to appreciate the complex beauty of aquatic ecosystems.

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