Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

Do you have additional gardening questions? Please contact us. Here's how.

Horticulture Questions and Answers

How do I create a water garden?

Picture yourself sitting next to a quiet water lily pool on a late summer afternoon. The stillness is broken as goldfish gently break the surface of the water. The ripples give a slight movement to the waterlily leaves and their colorful flowers. Sounds like a vacation spot on a Caribbean island! It could be but for a growing number of people this scene is right in their own backyards.

A water garden can be sophisticated with a series of waterfalls and pond levels; or simple as a single 3-to-4 foot pool in the corner of the yard. Water gardening is becoming a favorite hobby for experienced as well as beginning gardeners. This trend is aided by the development of durable synthetic pool liners and fiberglass inserts now available. Additionally, many garden suppliers are offering a wider variety of water plants. Here are a few constructive tips:

Shaped fiberglass pools are convenient and easy to install but fairly expensive. Although durable, lasting (5-10 years), often they are shallow. Ideal water depth is about 2 feet. Shallower ponds will heat up more quickly, and require frequent cleaning due to growth of algae. Many water plants require containers of 1 foot deep, which may be impossible to achieve in some precast pools. Alternatively, sheet-pool liners are not only equally as durable, but offer shape and depth flexibility, plus the option to construct a shallow water-edge shelf for shorter plants. Whichever construction style or materials, the container should be protected from direct sunlight at the edge, with stones and throughout, with plants.

When one thinks of water gardens, water lilies are a must. Lilies come in two varieties; hardy and tropical. Flower colors in each group are tremendous. Hardy lilies can withstand freezing temperatures of the pond in winter. Tropical water lilies offer more fragrant and vibrant colored blooms and tropical lilies bloom at night. However, being less hardy means extra consideration.

A shelf, or shallow area, in the pond creates different plant heights. This shelf can contain plants such as horsetail (Equisetum hyemale), cattails (Typha latifolia, and Japanese iris (Higo Strain). Deeper areas on the shelf could contain umbrella palm (Cypres alternifolium), arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), pickferel rush (Pontederia cordata) and even lotus (Nelumbo cvs.).

Every aquatic garden needs oxygenation plants to keep the water crystal clear and pure. They grow underwater absorbing impurities and liberating oxygen, which helps prevent the growth of algae. The most common hardy in the St. Louis area is Anacharis (Elodea canadensis 'Gigantea').

Fish add another dimension to water gardens. Interaction between fish and plants ensure proper water conditions, plus add movement and tranquility. Fish can easily be taught to respond to feeding. Goldfish are the most popular choice because they are colorful, hardy, and relatively inexpensive.

For best flowering your water garden should receive at least five hours of direct sunlight each day. With this requirement fulfilled your water garden is limited only by the designer's imagination.