Water Craft

The midday sun shows off a 15-by-20-foot pond that extends throughout a suburban yard. Heaven of the sky is mirrored by the water, while a few lots koi flit about below the surface area - flashes of orange, yellow, black and white glide by. They dance between the waterlilies, the plants' round leaves sitting delicately on the water's surface as blossoms of pink and yellow open up to consume in the sunlight.

" This is our play area," says Dick Williams, as he and his partner, LaNell, hide from the summertime heat in the shade of their aspen trees, and see the fish and flowers in their yard Shangri-La.

The Williams' house is one stop on this weekend's Water Garden Tour - the 17th annual tour hosted by the Pikes Peak Water Garden Society. The tour draws as numerous as 1,500 gawkers when the weather works together, and the society has grown to more than 250 members, indications of the appeal of water gardening in the area.

Wait one cotton-picking minute, you might be thinking: Did you say water gardening? Here in Colorado Springs, the land of water restrictions and dry spell?

That's right, water gardening. Unusual as it seems, building a giant water function in the backyard may be the very best way to save water.

" Though it might sound counter-intuitive, it has actually been proven that a location provided over to a water garden takes in less water than the same ground covered with yard or ground-covering plants - by some price quotes, only one-tenth as much," says the book "Water Gardening for the Southwest," by Teri Dunn.

Structure your very own pond is much easier than it used to be, thanks to advances in devices and a larger schedule of water plants. Club members say you can build a large pond for less than $1,000 if you do the work yourself.

It's not a cinch. Ron Bissonnette, vice president of the Pikes Peak Water Garden Society, keeps in mind transporting dirt from his yard one wheelbarrow at a time in 1993. And the pickings were slim for pond accoutrements.

" At that time, there were no services in the area selling pond plants," states his better half, Betty Lou. "But now the market is genuine complete."

Mike Spencer, co-owner of Spencer's Lawn & Garden Centers, verifies that. He now stocks water plants and fish, and a fuller supply of liners, pumps and filters than he did a decade ago.

Recently, Spencer has hosted a "build-a-pond" workshop for 50 people each year at his store at 4720 Center Valley Drive in Fountain. Next year he's broadening it to 3 workshops due to the fact that he's forced to turn away numerous people.

" In outside living, it's definitely the most popular section today. The items became a lot more readily available and far better," Spencer says. Get More Info "And, as time has gone on, individuals are spending a lot more time in their yard. People do lots of outside entertaining in their homes."

Unlike some garden clubs, the Water Garden Society attracts its fair share of big people. Bissonnette, a vehicle mechanic, and a lot of his mates like the construction element of water gardening, along with the mechanics of pumps and filters, and the soothing benefit of watching fish swim.

" I prefer to believe that I'm the building and construction engineer, and she's the gardener," states Dick Williams, who likes his slick brand-new filter and pump system that powers three ponds and 2 streams.

Real enough, his wife enjoys the gardening.

" I just like the water plants," LaNell says. "The noise and the large beauty of the entire thing is another measurement from flowers and pots."

The Williamses have five ponds that hold about 7,700 gallons of water. They strongly advise newcomers to dig a big pond the very first time - otherwise they'll be doing it all again in a few years.

" If he digs another hole, he better look out or he'll wind up in it," LaNell says.

" She plays unclean," he says.

Once the building and construction is done, water gardening requires less maintenance than flower beds in the dirt. The effort comes in the spring when you open up the pond, and in the fall when you put it to bed. And, due to the fact that the plants have all the water they desire, they usually prosper and people discover themselves cutting them back and distributing extra plants.

" The work is more simply ripping things out since it's growing too quick," LaNell says. "I've distributed hundreds of plants this year."

The Williamses seldom go on summer holiday anymore because they cannot consider anywhere much better than their own yard.

" You invest a great deal of time simply watching the wacky fish," Dick says. "When good friends visited, we typically wind up outside. It's relaxing and it's relaxing."

A stone-step waterfall cascades down into their large pond, and the sound of hurrying water lulls them to sleep during the night - in addition to the chitchat from their three resident bullfrogs.

" A water garden has a primal tourist attraction," writes Dunn in "Water Gardening for the Southwest."

" Jarring noises and interruptions drop away. In a hectic and struggling world, something as simple as a backyard pond is a balm to the human spirit."


Construct your pond as big as you can. Water garden enthusiasts say you'll just end up broadening it in the future, so conserve yourself the time and expenditure and begin big.

The very first step is to call your utility company to mark underground energies in the lawn. Utilize a garden hose pipe to sketch out the shape of your pond and let it sit for a number of days till you're certain you like it. Read books, talk to regional water garden enthusiasts and inspect out plants.

3. Pick the ideal spot. Make certain you can view the pond from the home and an outside sitting area such as a deck. Water plants require complete sun, so ensure the area gets six hours of direct sun. Don't put the pond under trees - the plants will suffer and the water will be cluttered with leaves or needles.

Water is unforgiving if your pond is not completely level. Invest time getting it right before the water goes in.

Even without fish, utilizing filters may be a great idea to keep the water healthy and clear. Without them, you must put mosquito killer in the water.

Sturdy waterlilies are the stars of the majority of water gardens in Colorado Springs (along with koi). Sturdy plants can be cut back and set much deeper in the water where they will survive the winter season.

The preformed pond bottoms sold at hardware stores are extremely limiting in size and depth, according to our pond professionals. They suggest flexible pond liners (normally EPDM), at least 40 millimeters thick.

Heron and raccoon are both consistent pests to water gardeners, so you'll need to make some accommodations. Some gardeners trap and release raccoons; others build small fences around the ponds to hinder the birds.

They need guidance near the water. Moms and dads may think about a more shallow pond, stair actions in the pond that make it easy to climb out - or just waiting to build it till the kids are larger.

Include water slowly. Once your pond is filled, you will need to use a pipe to top it off about when a week to counter evaporation.

11. Don't go crazy when algae grows. If you're patient, the pond ecosystem will eventually find balance. If you clear the pond, include chemicals, or scrub the sides, the procedure will start once again. Water gardeners advise UV sterilizers for more water clearness.

12. Plant ideas. Durable waterlilies need to cover about two-thirds of the water for pond health. Good marginal plants (in ground or water sounding the pond) are arrowhead, bog bean, pickerel rush, water iris, marsh marigold, bull rush, variegated sweet flag, mini cattails and water celery. If you want to try a lotus, make it the Mrs. Perry D. Slocum lotus.

SOURCES: Ron and Betty Lou Bissonnette, Dick and LaNell Williams, "Water Gardening for the Southwest"


Hosted by the Pikes Peak Water Garden Society Where: Street maps of the 12 houses featured are readily available for printing at www.ppwgs.org under the "Pond Tours" link. Printed map plans are offered 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m.-noon Sunday in the student parking lot of Wasson High School, 2115 Afton Way.

Cock and LaNell Williams feed their koi in a ring so the food does not get skimmed away by the pond's cleaner.

Dick Williams gave his wife this statue for her birthday in 2015. It's called Keo Miles for the 2,000 miles he traveled to buy it in Arkansas.

The Williamses have been water gardening for 11 years, beginning with LaNell seeing if she could grow water plants in a pail. Now they have six ponds filled with fish and plants.

The noise of this waterfall in the Williamses' largest pond lulls them to sleep in the evening, as does the chatter from the bullfrogs the water brings in.

The 19 koi in their big pond are too big to be bothered by herons, but Dick and LaNell Williams have actually lost smaller sized fish to the predator.

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