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Why do I need aquatic plants in my water garden? When should I get them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why do I need aquatic plants in my water garden? When should I get them?

Q: Why do I need aquatic plants in my water garden? When should I get them?

Melissa – Sedalia, MO

A: It’s a water garden, not a vegetable or flower garden, right? So why do you need plants in your pond? What purpose do they serve? Well, even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are some very good reasons why plants belong in your pond—four of them, in fact.

  • Fish Cover: First of all, floating plants like water lilies and water lettuce provide your pond’s inhabitants cover from predators and bright sun. Your koi and goldfish will appreciate the safety and shade those leaves provide, particularly when a heron comes to visit!
  • All-Natural Water Filter: Bog, floating and underwater plants, like water hyacinth, parrot’s feather and irises, naturally filter the water, too. They’re nicknamed “nature’s water filter” for a reason: They remove excess nutrients from the water while releasing oxygen during photosynthesis.
  • Habitable Habitat: Plants also create a perfect habitat for your aquatic life—both above and below the waterline—by providing food and shelter. Fish and snails hang out around the leaves and stems, frogs hunt for bugs and hide in the shade, and birds and insects flock to the flowers for nectar.
  • Aesthetics: Aquatic plants’ flowers and greenery make for some nice scenery for you, too. Imagine water lilies and irises bursting with color, and curly corkscrew rush and lizard’s tail softening the outline around the pond. Not a bad view while enjoying a balmy spring evening!

Even though Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, it’s still cold outside—too cold for plants. But you can still start thinking about cultivars you’d like to grow in your water garden!

You could head down to your local water garden retailer and check out their selection, but a better option is to order plants via mail order. Simply flip through your favorite mail-order nursery catalog or check out the assortment of aquatic plants at The Pond Guy®. Place your order and voila! Your aquatic plants will be delivered in the spring.

In many cases, if you place your order early the nursery will hold your order until the weather in your area is suitable to grow the plants. Another benefit of having your plants shipped: They’ll be less expensive because you’re not purchasing a full-grown potted plant. Once they arrive, they’ll need some time to grow—but once they get growing and blossoming, you won’t even know the difference!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite aquatic plant?

Add Color To Your Pond - Grower's Choice Hardy Water Lilies

Can I add barley to my 1/2 acre pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Can I add barley to my 1/2 acre pond?

Q: Can I add barley to my 1/2 acre pond?

Bill – Ashville, OH

A: Barley straw and ponds have some great chemistry. As a barley straw bale breaks down in water, it produces and releases many chemical compounds—and one of them may actually control algae growth.

How? Scientists from the Ohio State University Extension report that the compound interferes with and prevents the new growth of algae cells. As the old algae cells naturally die off, few new algae cells are produced—thereby controlling the overall algae population.

Sounds like a perfect solution for your 1/2 acre lake, right?

Well, barley straw will technically work to control algae in all that water—but you’ll need a ton of barley to accomplish it! More precisely, you’ll need as much as 112 pounds per 1/2 acre of surface area, according to OSU experts.

That’s great if you live next to a barley field, but that’s not a reality for most of us …

And accessibility to all those pounds of straw isn’t the only challenge. The bales are also tough to handle. In a small 1,000-gallon pond, small bales of barley straw can be used and tucked away in the filter, out of view. But in a sizable pond or lake, large bales are cumbersome to haul and position.

Not only that, but they also need to be broken apart to allow the right amount of oxygen in the middle of the bale so it properly decomposes, which means all that loose material will float to the pond’s surface and really make a mess of things.

Rather than wrangle all that barley straw, try an Airmax® Aeration System instead coupled with a beneficial bacteria product, like MuckAway. The aeration system will circulate the pond water, allowing the bacteria to break down all the muck.

Low amounts of nutrients in the pond means less food for plants and weeds—and that’s some chemistry every lake owner should understand.

Pond Talk: Do you prefer aeration and beneficial bacteria over barley straw? If so, why?

Reduce Mucky Pond Bottoms - Pond Logic® MuckAway®

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