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Pond Liners

You have sited your pond, calculated measurements and dug a hole. Now comes the hard part, what type of liner do you use?

There are many types of liners available varying in materials, color and of course price. As with many things in life, it is a good idea to get the best quality for your budget as the product will last longer and cause fewer headaches down the road. Liners made of Butyl rubber and PVC or low-density polyethylenes are used in better quality liners. These are available in different thicknesses and some even have a Glad bag type web design to offer added strength. Different colors and liners with pebbles glued to the edges for a natural look is an aesthetically pleasing option for some butyl and PVC liners available on the market. But you’re not done yet. Adding an underlay (a cushioning material to go between liner and earth) is a wise decision to get your pond off to a good start and protect it from punctures and the elements. Purchasing a specific underlay material is not entirely necessary however. Sand and even old carpet scraps can be used with basically the same results.

While the aforementioned liners will get the job done for most pond enthusiasts, there are others to choose from. Polythene liners are cheaper but should be avoided if possible. Lacking pliability and prone to becoming brittle and cracking due to sun exposure, polythene is a cheaper option best used only for temporary projects. Geotextiles or “clay-impregnated” liners are on the other end of the spectrum as far as quality and price. Infused with clay, these liners are able to plug small holes and thus sustain minor punctures. While the idea of never having to deal with leaks is a pleasing thought, geotextiles are ideal for larger, wildlife ponds and aren’t necessary for smaller, backyard ponds.

Now that you’ve decided what type of liner is best for your project, you are ready to shop! Remember to add a couple of inches to each dimension before cutting your liner and underlay. It is far better to be left with an overlap than to run out after all your hard work.

Wood is a widely available and versatile material that can be used in many ways in the garden. Along with its natural color and texture, wood is also relatively to work with. Unfortunately, woods major disadvantage of course is rot. Fortunately, wood rot can be overcome and controlled.

Although the natural look of wood generally looks best, applying a finish can keep wood looking good for longer. Take precautions when choosing a finish so as to protect your fish. Microporous paints and stains all the wood to breathe. Applying sealant evenly is important because uneven seal jobs are at greater risk of cracking in time. Preservative free stains are available but keep in mind they are harder to find.

Don’t use preservatives on wood that comes in contact with your pond water. Be sure to treat the wood far away from the pond so as to avoid any possible chance of the preservatives getting into the water by accident. Always use low-toxic preservatives. Wood preservatives are often in a toxic-solvent base, generally including various pesticides and fungicides that can be lethal to fish and other pond life. Avoid solvent-based treatments when re-treating wood. Fumes from the solvent can even be lethal to fish. Timber is often pre-treated with preservatives so be sure to check before buying.

Promote rain water run-off by positioning wooden structures and edging in a way that won’t build up pools of water but will naturally run off. Although hardwoods are more expensive than softwoods, they are more resistant to rot than softwoods. Hardwoods are also harder to cut but are ideal for structures that will be supporting something, such as bridges that people will be walking across.

Softwoods can be sealed with clear polyurethane paints, or can be painted with low-toxicity bitumenastic paints. Larch is one of the most rot-resistant softwoods available. Imitation logs available from Japan are molded from concrete and placed around pond edges. After moss grows on them, they look rather natural.
It is very important to make sure that wooden slats in bridges and decking are secured safely before they are open to public use. Use rustproof screws when constructing because nails can come loose over time. Drill pilot holes first so as to minimize the risk of splitting. Load-bearing beams need to be bolted into position.

Practical Koi Fish

Koi fish in the water garden are a beautiful site, the colors of the fish, the various sizes are great to look at and these fish are very functional as well as easy to care for. If you are going to collect Koi in your water garden, you will need to keep in mind how much room these fish need to grow and how the Koi fish likes to live. The early Koi, about twenty five hundred years ago, come from lines of fish, which are called Nishikigoi, and the Magoi. The Magoi is a black fish but color mutations over the year give you the modern day Koi which is also known as the carp.

The Koi raising and Koi gardening hobby is one that is not clearly seen through the world until the early 1900’s. As the railroads began connecting different parts of the countries together, the spread of Koi began advancing as well. The fish known as the Nishikigoi which is a more fancy type of Koi fish is seen in Japan with some collections seen spread out around the world.

The Koi fish is a very sleek looking fish, with an outer layer that seems to envelope the body leaving nothing uncovered. The short fins an the sides of the body, along with the thin sleek tail that helps the Koi moves gives the Koi a complete look that is not interrupted. The front end of the Koi is broader than the end potions of the fish, also called the dorsal portion of the fish. Imagine the comparison of that of a broad chested man and a thin waist. With such a streamlined body the Koi can move through the water without creating much disturbance in the water at all.

The scales on the Koi are similar to an armor that will protect the fish, even though they are a very lightweight protection, the scales cover the entire fish. You will find that there are two types of scales that are seen covering the Koi fish, one type of where the Koi is covered all over with the scales, and the other is where the scales are bigger more prominent. The scales on the first type of Koi are smaller and sometime can break off or peel off, but the scales on the second type of Koi are actually a part of the skin and will not break off or fall off.

Transporting fish from one place to another is not an adventure to be taken lightly. Much goes into a smooth introduction of fish into a new pond as well as the process of getting them there.

If you are purchasing fish from a local pet store, the fish should be put in a plastic bag filled with pure oxygen. Ask if the provider has a stress-treatment that can be squirted in the bag. If the transportation will be a lengthy endeavor, consider putting the fish in a bucket with an air-pump or be prepared to splash the water every so often to allow the water to stay aerated.

Keeping the fish in a cool and dark place while transporting is important as this will lower stress for the fish. Keeping an ice-pack under the bag will slow the metabolism and awareness of the fish while slowing their need for oxygen.

Once you’ve made it to your destination, you’re only half way there. Letting the fish into their new habitat immediately will cause immense stress and can possibly be fatal. Start by placing the plastic bag in the pond to be floated for 10-15 minutes. If it’s a sunny day, place a towel over the bag to protect the fish from direct sunlight. Adding a teaspoon of dissolved salt will also help to alleviate stress. After the first 10-15 minutes (longer if the fish were transported with ice) add a little bit of the pond water into the bag and continue to float the bag for another 10-15 minutes. A lengthy transition yes, but it will make all the difference in assuring the health and happiness of your fish.

At this time you are ready to introduce your fish into the pond. Gently untie the bag and allow the fish to swim out. If you went the route of introducing the pond water into a bucket instead of floating it, be sure to wet your hands before picking up the fish and placing them in the water. For bigger fish, it’s a good idea to use gloves or a net to avoid injury to yourself or the fish.

It is a good idea to keep an eye on the new fish after their transition because fish, especially Koi, are known for jumping up and sometimes out of the pond. If you have a pond cover, place it over the pond for a couple of hours or a day to keep the fish from jumping. New fish will usually stay at the bottom of the pond while they recover and gets accustomed to their new surroundings.

Lastly, feed fish sparingly for the next few days to allow time to recover and also because you will find they are not particularly hungry at first.

Besides the obvious importance of pond plants including oxygenating by photosynthesis and being aesthetically pleasing to the eye, plants have many other important roles.

All pond plants have roots in which they absorb a wide array of things from the water. Nitrates, the end products of the natural detoxification of waste from the pond, can rise to a dangerous level if left unchecked. At an excessively high level, this can negatively affect the health of fragile fish but will also help fertilize the annoying algae variety known as blanket weed, neither a good thing. Plants come into the picture because they can take up excess nitrates through their roots as fertilizer, which will in turn take away important nutrients from algae and help keep your pond algae-free naturally. On top of that, plants can create a cushion against any drastic fluctuations in water quality just by absorbing components in the water.

Surface and floating plants will also create shade and shelter for fish from too much sunlight and possible predators. Up to sixty percent coverage for a pond is ideal to keep your pond running smoothly. Plant pond coverage can also help prevent water evaporation from the pond, keep the water cool and provide some food for the fish or other small organisms. Come spawning season, plants provide many sites for fish to lay and fertilize eggs as well as provide safety for the fry and other pond life to develop safely. Submerged plants are also ideal in providing oxygen, food and safety for your pond’s inhabitants.

Choosing Plants

When drawing up plans for a new backyard pond, it’s important to think ahead about what you’re going to need and want to achieve your goals. Planning ahead for plants is important because although they only require light and water, different plants need different amounts of each.

All ponds should ideally get sun for at least half the day. A full day of sun will promote plants to grow at their best but sun all day long can be fatal. Constructing different levels within the pond will be the best way to provide a variety of environments for different plants. Be sure to take in consideration the size and amount of plants you want to keep in your pond. Shelves should have a width that is deep enough to accommodate different plant basket sizes to avoid over-hanging.

Most marginal plants are suitable to grow on shelves. Building shelves on the south side of the pond will be of benefit to you in sunny weather because you can place plants there that will in turn provide shade to the pond and help cut down on green algae. Water lilies vary in size but most prefer up to 10-16 inches of water coverage so placing them on the bottom of most ponds will suffice.

If you see a waterfall or fountain in your future, keep in mind that many water plants, including lilies, don’t grow as well in moving water. Therefore, keeping waterfalls in a separate part of the pond, away from the plants, is something to consider. If a big part of having a pond is to grow water plants, know that space and plenty of room to grow is an important key in your plants future to grow to their best potential.

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