by Charlene Burgi
Oft times we dream of adding water features in our gardens. The trickle of falling water draws people and wildlife to the soothing sounds. The shimmering blue water cools the air as well as those entering the area. Birds, bees, dragonflies, and butterflies along with other wildlife also benefit from the sustenance it provides.
However, the negatives of having a water feature in your garden can outweigh the positives. For example, large surface areas of water evaporate at a fast rate, requiring frequent refilling of the pond and consuming precious water resources. Pool covers that slow down evaporation are not an option to eliminate this problem. Even if covers for water features were available, the feature would lose its beauty and benefit if it were covered.
There are also the issues of mosquitoes breeding in the pools of water, pumps jamming with debris that finds its way into the system, and raccoons finding this spot a desirable way-station for washing their food before dining. If a water feature supports fish, the raccoons may consider this pond the best location for one-stop shopping and dining.
While building our new home, my husband Jack included a beautiful waterfall in the front with a modest-size pond. Yes, I love all the positives listed above including the family of toads that live there and croak us to sleep during the warm evenings.
The dilemma for us, in addition to the above list of negatives, is two golden retriever pups whose day wouldn’t be complete unless they found their way into the water—whether it be 35 degrees or 95 degrees outside. The dripping pups manage to collect the bark from the heavily mulched garden on their wet fur and then, more often than not, scamper into the house (they know how to open the door) and plop down on the living room carpet to share their adventure with us. Needless to say, the living room carpet is shampooed almost as often as one shampoos their hair!
Jack and I pondered the dilemma of keeping or eliminating the feature. The current water shortage, wet dogs, and the loss of wildlife that visit our garden to quench their thirst were all considered. We decided we could still meet our needs (and sanity) as well as the needs of wildlife if we converted the pond into a disappearing underground pond by placing our recirculating water pump into a water collection box hidden beneath the fall rocks. The falls would be lower, reducing evaporation; a screen placed over the water collection box would eliminate foreign debris from entering the pump area; and the natural, irregular depressions in the rocks under the falls would continue to support a watering hole for wildlife. I could add streams of low-growing lavender along the side of the bank where the pond was located. The newly created dry creek bed could be threaded with blue aubrietia and violets for spring/summer color and Ceratostigma plumbaginoides for continued fall color. The picture is in my head. Now to create it!
Do you have this type of dilemma? Is there a water feature that is causing you more trouble than the time you have to give to it? Or are you thinking of adding a water feature to your garden but hadn’t realized the pitfalls of maintaining it—even with the help of golden retriever pups? Consider installing or revamping an existing water feature into a disappearing pond. (Remember that the water district requires all water features to use recirculating systems.) I can’t wait to see our outcome! If you have experience with ponds, and other water feature ideas, please share solutions with the readers!
I am wishing a well-deserved day of rest to those who serve or served in our military and their families. Blessings to all.