A splash of creativity: it’s easier to make a water garden out of a pot than you think

This summer, the CBC’s Tanara McLean in Edmonton is working on a special section on horticulture in Zone 3. From knowing the planting zone to water-demanding your lawn, it explains why certain gardening practices help you get the most out of your Zone 3 garden.

Imagine sitting by a beautiful lake watching birds, squirrels, butterflies and bees visiting for a cold drink on a summer day.

In addition to emotional and mental well-being, water is a scarce resource for many wildlife species in the urban environment.

Creating a small container water garden is fairly easy – and doesn’t cost much.

Here’s a guide to help you create your own water tank garden, even if you only have a small apartment balcony.

1. Choose a waterproof container that is the right size for your location

It can be anything fancy and creative with the container: old galvanized washbasins, tin buckets, or even a modified sink can work.

An easy option is a planter without a drainage hole.

Choose a size that fits comfortably in your seat. A good option is a planting pot 30 centimeters in diameter and 30 centimeters deep.

The choice of container is limited only by your imagination. The only requirement is that it be relatively clean and waterproof. (Young McLean / CBC)

2. Prepare the pan for the water

Be sure to wash the tank to get rid of harmful chemicals or dirt.

You can place a thin layer of gravel or small stones on the bottom – but this is an aesthetic choice, not a requirement.

To allow insects or animals to escape safely from the pot, place bricks or stones on top of each other to create layers in the bowl. If a rock breaks through the surface of the water a few inches, it creates a wonderful natural feeling. It also provides space for birds to crawl or insects to crawl when they want to get out.

Creating layers in the vessel with rocks and bricks ensures that wildlife is safely released from the tank. (Young McLean / CBC)

3. Fill the tank with water

Fill the tank with garden hose or rainwater. Do not add chlorine or other chemicals to the water. Start by half-filling to make it easier to arrange the plants, then finish filling while leaving an inch of space on top.

For a dramatic mirror effect, consider using a biodegradable, animal-friendly dye that conjures up water in a stunning ink-black hue. This allows the lake to reflect the sky and the green around it.

Start by half-filling the pot, allowing the plants to arrange without overflowing. (Young McLean / CBC)

3. Add plants!

The plants in the water garden literally bring the lake to life by attracting more wildlife.

Try planting in layers to fill the space above and above the water.

Standing above the surface of the water, the beautiful plant is both dramatic and serene. Consider using plants like a coal miner Collocation esculenta, buttery flowers of the marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) or broadleaf arrowhead (sagittaria latifolia).

Garden centers offer a variety of tall, graceful grasses for lakes.

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Get inspired by Claude Monet’s waterlily paintings and use floating plants to cover the surface of the water. Good options include water hyacinth (Pontederia crassipes), the Salvinia natans floating ferns that look like blurred green fur bands or delicate red parrot feathers (Myriophyllum brasiliensis).

Healthy water is high in oxygen, so take a common oxygenating plant such as a mare’s tail (hippuris vulgaris.) This plant can be invasive if it enters natural waters and it is the responsibility of every gardener to handle it responsibly.

Many of these plants cost between $ 10 and $ 20 in garden centers. You can treat them as annuals, which you buy every year, or try to overwinter them indoors.

The graceful broadleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) stands calmly above the water surface, while the water hyacinth (Pontederia crassipes) floats gently on the surface. (Young McLean / CBC)

4. Ward off mosquitoes

Mosquito larvae live well in stagnant water, which is quite shallow. They have breathing tubes like a breathing tube that allow them to hang upside down while still being able to breathe on the surface.

But it is almost impossible for mosquito larvae to breathe if they disturb the water, so make sure the water in the lake moves.

Small solar-powered fountains floating in the water are available for about $ 20. A conventional solar pump costs about the same.

Adding fish to the lakes is not recommended, but once the lake is done, you will feel joy and serenity when you watch other creatures appreciate what you have created.

A floating, solar-powered fountain is good at deterring mosquito larvae from a container lake. (Young McLean / CBC)

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