Water Craft

The midday sun reflects off a 15-by-20-foot pond that extends throughout a rural yard. The blue of the sky is mirrored by the water, while a couple of dozen koi sweep about beneath the surface area - flashes of orange, yellow, white and black slide 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 drink in the sunlight.

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

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

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

That's right, water gardening. Unusual as it appears, constructing a huge water function in the yard may be the very best way to save water.

" Though it may sound counter-intuitive, it has been shown that an area provided over to a water garden consumes less water than the same ground covered with yard or ground-covering plants - by some estimates, just one-tenth as much," states the book "Water Gardening for the Southwest," by Teri Dunn.

Building your own pond is simpler than it utilized to be, thanks to advances in devices and a broader schedule of water plants. Club members state you can develop 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, remembers transporting dirt from his backyard one wheelbarrow at a time in 1993. And the pickings were slim for pond accoutrements.

" At that time, there were no services in town selling pond plants," says his other half, Betty Lou. "But now the market is real full."

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

Just recently, Spencer has actually hosted a "build-a-pond" workshop for 50 people each year at his store at 4720 Center Valley Drive in Fountain. Due to the fact that he's required to turn away so lots of people, next year he's expanding it to three workshops.

The products ended up being much more much and offered better," Spencer says. "And, as time has gone on, individuals are spending a lot more time in their backyard.

Unlike some garden clubs, the Water Garden Society attracts its fair share of big men. Bissonnette, an automobile mechanic, and a number of his accomplices like the building and construction element of water gardening, together with the mechanics of filters and pumps, and the soothing benefit of enjoying fish swim.

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

True enough, his better half is into the horticulture.

" I just enjoy the water plants," LaNell says. "The noise and the sheer appeal 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 huge pond the very first time - otherwise they'll be doing it all again in a few years.

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

" She plays filthy," he says.

As soon as the building and construction is done, water gardening needs less upkeep than flower beds in the dirt. The difficult work is available in the spring when you open up the pond, and in the fall when you put it to bed. And, because the plants have all the water they desire, they usually thrive and people find themselves cutting them back and distributing additional plants.

" The work is more just ripping things out since it's growing too fast," LaNell says. "I've handed out numerous plants this year."

Because they can't believe of anywhere much better than their own backyard, the Williamses rarely go on summer holiday any longer.

" You invest a great deal of time just watching the goofy fish," Dick states. "When pals come over, we generally wind up outside. It's calming and it's relaxing."

A stone-step waterfall cascades down into their big pond, and the noise of rushing water lulls them to sleep during the night - together with the chitchat from their three resident bullfrogs.

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

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


1. Develop your pond as large as you can. Water garden enthusiasts state you'll just wind up broadening it in the future, so conserve yourself the time and expenditure and begin huge. Plus, it's much easier to stabilize the environment in a bigger pond.

The first step is to call your energy business to mark underground utilities in the backyard. Use a garden hose to sketch out the shape of your pond and let it sit for several days up until you're particular you like it. Check out books, talk to local water garden enthusiasts and inspect out plants.

Water plants require complete sun, so make sure the area gets 6 hours of direct sun. Don't put the pond under trees - the plants will suffer and the water will be littered with needles or leaves.

4. Keep it on the level. Water is unforgiving if your pond is not perfectly level. Hang around getting it ideal before the water enters.

5. Fish require filters. Even without fish, using filters may be a great idea to keep the water healthy and clear. Also, fish eat mosquito larvae. Without them, you should put mosquito killer in the water.

Durable waterlilies are the stars of many water gardens in Colorado Springs (along with koi). Hardy plants can be cut back and set much deeper in the water where they will endure the winter.

7. Be flexible. The preformed pond bottoms cost hardware shops are extremely limiting in size and depth, inning accordance with our pond specialists. They suggest versatile pond liners (normally EPDM), at least 40 millimeters thick.

Heron and raccoon are both consistent bugs to water garden enthusiasts, so you'll need to make some accommodations. Some garden enthusiasts trap and release raccoons; others construct little fences around the ponds to hinder the birds.

They need supervision near the water. Parents might consider a more shallow pond, stair actions in the pond that make it simple to climb out - or simply waiting to construct it till the kids are larger.

Add water slowly. As soon as your pond is filled, you will require to use a pipe to top it off about once a week to counter evaporation.

11. Don't flip out when algae grows. The pond environment will ultimately find balance if you're patient. If you empty the pond, add chemicals, or scrub the sides, the process will begin again. Water garden enthusiasts advise UV sterilizers for more water clearness.

Durable waterlilies ought to cover about two-thirds of the water for pond health. Great marginal plants (in ground or water ringing the pond) are arrowhead, bog bean, pickerel rush, water iris, marsh marigold, bull rush, variegated sweet flag, miniature cattails and water celery.

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 available for printing at www.ppwgs.org under the "Pond Tours" link. Printed map bundles are offered 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m.-noon Sunday in the trainee car park of Wasson High School, 2115 Afton Way. click this link here now When: Tours happen 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cost: Free More information: Check out www.ppwgs.org, e-mail nofishing@qwest. net or call Betty Lou Bissonnette at 597-1504.

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 better half this statue for her birthday last year. It's named Keo Miles for the 2,000 miles he traveled to purchase it in Arkansas.

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

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

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

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