Water Craft

The midday sun reflects off a 15-by-20-foot pond that stretches across a rural yard. The blue of the sky is mirrored by the water, while a couple of dozen koi sweep about below the surface - flashes of orange, yellow, black and white slide by. They dance between the waterlilies, the plants' round leaves sitting delicately on the water's surface as blooms of pink and yellow available to drink in the sunlight.

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

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

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

That's right, water gardening. Strange as it appears, building a huge water feature in the yard might be the best way to conserve water.

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

Building your own pond is much easier than it used to be, thanks to advances in devices and a larger accessibility of water plants. Club members state you can construct a big 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 carrying 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 companies in the area selling pond plants," states his better half, Betty Lou. "But now the marketplace is genuine complete."

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

Just recently, Spencer has hosted a "build-a-pond" workshop for 50 individuals each year at his shop at 4720 Center Valley Drive in Fountain. Next year he's expanding it to three workshops due to the fact that he's required to turn away a lot of individuals.

" In outdoor living, it's definitely the hottest segment today. The products ended up being much more available and far better," Spencer states. "And, as time has actually gone on, people are investing 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 reasonable share of burly men. Bissonnette, an automobile mechanic, and a number of his friends like the construction aspect of water gardening, in addition to the mechanics of pumps and filters, and the relaxing reward of viewing fish swim.

" I like to think that I'm the building and construction engineer, and she's the horticulturist," says Dick Williams, who likes his slick new filter and pump system that powers three ponds and 2 streams.

Real enough, his partner is into the gardening.

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

The Williamses have 5 ponds that hold about 7,700 gallons of water. They highly recommend newcomers to dig a big pond the first time - otherwise they'll be doing it all again in a few years.

" If he digs another hole, he much better look out or he'll wind up in it," LaNell states. read the full info here

" She plays unclean," he says.

As soon as the building is done, water gardening requires less maintenance than flower beds in the dirt. The tough work is available 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 normally thrive and people discover themselves cutting them back and giving away extra plants.

" The work is more just ripping things out because it's growing too quickly," LaNell states. "I've distributed numerous plants this year."

The Williamses hardly ever go on summer holiday any longer since they cannot think about just about anywhere better than their own backyard.

" You spend a great deal of time just viewing the goofy fish," Dick states. "When good friends visited, we typically wind up outside. It's calming and it's unwinding."

A stone-step waterfall cascades down into their big pond, and the sound of hurrying water lulls them to sleep in the evening - together with the talk from their 3 resident bullfrogs.

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

" Jarring sounds and distractions slope. In a hectic and struggling world, something as easy as a backyard pond is a balm to the human spirit."


1. Construct your pond as large as you can. Water garden lovers say you'll just end up expanding it in the future, so save yourself the time and expense and begin big. Plus, it's much easier to balance the community in a larger pond.

The first action is to call your energy company to mark underground utilities in the yard. Utilize a garden tube to sketch out the shape of your pond and let it sit for a number of days until you're particular you like it. Check out books, talk to regional water gardeners and check out plants.

Water plants require full sun, so make sure the spot gets six hours of direct sun. Don't put the pond under trees - the plants will suffer and the water will be littered with leaves or needles.

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

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

6. Hardy beats tropical. Durable waterlilies are the stars of most water gardens in Colorado Springs (in addition to koi). Likewise, durable plants can be cut down and set deeper in the water where they will endure the winter season. Still, numerous garden enthusiasts try the lotus and tropical waterlilies, with diverse success.

7. Be flexible. The preformed pond bottoms cost hardware stores are awfully restricting in size and depth, inning accordance with our pond experts. They suggest versatile pond liners (usually EPDM), at least 40 millimeters thick.

Heron and raccoon are both persistent bugs to water garden enthusiasts, so you'll need to make some lodgings. Some gardeners trap and release raccoons; others build little fences around the ponds to deter the birds.

9. See children. Kids like to check out the ponds with fish and frogs and cool stuff. They require guidance near the water. Parents may think about a more shallow pond, stair actions in the pond that make it simple to climb out - or simply waiting to develop it until the kids are larger.

10. Add water slowly. Once your pond is filled, you will have to utilize a hose pipe to top it off about as soon as a week to counter evaporation. However add just a couple of inches at a time, or the chlorine might hurt your fish and plants.

11. Do not go crazy when algae grows. If you're client, the pond environment will eventually find balance. If you empty the pond, add chemicals, or scrub the sides, the process will begin again. Water garden enthusiasts recommend UV sterilizers for more water clarity.

12. Plant concepts. Hardy waterlilies need to cover about two-thirds of the water for pond health. Great 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 wish to attempt 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 homes included are offered for printing at www.ppwgs.org under the "Pond Tours" link. Printed map packages 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. When: Tours happen 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cost: Free More details: Check out www.ppwgs.org, e-mail nofishing@qwest. net or call Betty Lou Bissonnette at 597-1504.

Penis 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 other half this statue for her birthday last year. It's called Keo Miles for the 2,000 miles he took a trip to purchase it in Arkansas.

The Williamses have been water gardening for 11 years, beginning with LaNell seeing if she could grow water plants in a bucket. Now they have 6 ponds filled with fish and plants.

The sound of this waterfall in the Williamses' largest pond lulls them to sleep at night, as does the chatter from the bullfrogs the water draws in.

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

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