How to Create a Container Water Garden for Small Spaces

David Cory is the owner and lover of a container water garden. He and his family have one set up on their front porch in rural Indiana.

Container water gardens are a great alternative to in-ground ponds. They can be placed on a front porch in the suburbs or on a sturdy balcony in the city. What makes these focal pieces great is the movement of the water-the swimming of the fish and the ripples of the water cascading down from a fountain.

It's hard to go wrong when there are so many possible combinations of plants, fish, and decorations. And when you consider the small size of this water garden, you will understand how much easier they can be to maintain. The smaller size also greatly reduces the cost involved.

Creating Your Own Water Garden in a Container

Be sure to have fun! Most projects should be able to be completed in a single day or weekend. However, make sure to allow your water garden to cycle (run the pump) for a couple weeks before adding fish. The bacteria that will help balance your water garden need time to become established.

• Since your container water garden is relatively small, be sure to account for that when choosing the number of fish and type of plants. Most of the time, dwarf varieties of plants will be the better choice.

• Keep in mind how much sunlight the water garden will receive. Too much will aid in excessive algae growth, which is certainly not a desired result. Conversely, too little sun will make it hard to properly grow the water plants.

Different Aspects of the Garden to Plan

Be creative when planning your garden!

• Plants: Use a wide variety of ideas and bring them together when planning your container water garden. While lily pads are popular, for instance, not every container will be big enough. A covered porch might also create too much shade for lilies to grow properly.

• Fountain Head: What type of fountain head will you use to create the feature that you prefer? There are bubble dome attachments, traditional fountain heads, and more. Thankfully, most water garden fountain kits will provide several, so you can choose your favorite.

• Lights: Lights are a great feature to add as well. Floating solar lights, underwater spotlights, and others are just a few possibilities. My personal favorite are floating solar lights. They never need their batteries replaced thanks to the built-in solar panel on top. Try and not add too many so as to not disrupt the fish in your container. After all, it's a small space, and fish need sleep, too!

Once you have your ideas ready, it's time to put them into action. Creating your own container water garden is easier than you think. Simply follow the steps below:

You could also use an actual, real half whiskey barrel. If you close the latter then you will need to line it with pond liner. This and all other supplies needed to complete this project can be found at your local home improvement store.

2. Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of pea gravel on the bottom of your container.

Pea gravel is a good choice, but you could also use small river pebbles. Both can be found at your local hardware store.

3. Fill with about half the needed water.

This will allow you to easily add in the remaining items without difficulty.

4. Place the fountain/pump in the middle of your container.

Choose the fountain head that you prefer and attach it to the pump. Do not turn it on yet.

5. Add the plant(s) that you've chosen for your water garden.

Think about how you will want them arranged and take your time. Now is the easiest time to change the placement.

If you do not plan to add fish then go ahead and turn on the fountain. Congratulations, you are finished with your project! If you do plan to add fish, continue to the next step.

7. Let the garden cycle for a few weeks, then add goldfish.

The fun part is picking out your fish. Get whatever colors and variations you would like. Just be certain not to add too many as overcrowding is unhealthy for the animals. Add the goldfish to your water garden and you are now finished.

Building a container water garden can be a lot of fun. The best part is being able to sit down with a cold drink while listening to the sounds of water and watching the fish happily swim around.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author's knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

I am glad you liked the article. Good luck to you!

Excellent point, Jeff. That's completely correct and I am glad you mentioned it. Have a great day!

Most city water needs to sit for a while before adding fish. Allow the chlorine and other chemicals to air out.

How to fix solar lights not working

Why your solar lights may not be working and how to fix them Solar powered lights can be a convenient way to light up your yard. They are easy to setup and save you money that would otherwise be used to extend cabling to the lights. So what can you do when they stop working? Fortunately, usually the problem is not as complicated as you may think. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that a number of these faults can be fixed by yourself. This post lists common failures of solar powered lights and how you can fix them. Solar lights not coming on during the night can be caused by solar lights not charging. Do you have access to the light? Can you access the solar panel connection? (do not do this if it voids your warranty) If you can, using a voltmeter measure the voltage output across the solar panel positive and negative connections during the day. A good solar panel has a voltage output equal to its rated output. A voltage output significantly lower than the solar panel's output is a sign of a failing or dead solar panel. Possible reasons for a failing or dead solar panel are: • None • Water or moisture leaks that destroy the solar cells • Some solar panels particularly the cheap ones are not built to last. For example, some solar garden light lights will last for 5 years. If a solar panel is dead, you can either replace it or if it is an all-in one unit, just get a new solar panel light. You most probably have a dead battery if: You have had at least 5 hours of sunshine and can measure the solar panel voltage across the battery but the light is dim and works for a short-time or does not work at all the battery. This is a sign that the battery holds little charge or does not hold charge. What to do is you suspect you have a dead solar battery: • If the solar light is serviceable, replace the battery with the type recommended by the manufacturer. • Make sure you charge it fully for the recommended hours, usually 5-8 hours Solar lights usually have either an ON/OFF or ON/OFF/AUTO switch. If the light has an ON/OFF switch, check that the switch is in the ON position for the light to automatically come on at night when the light sensor detects darkness. If the light has an ON/OFF/AUTO switch, check that the switch is in the AUTO position for the light to automatically come on at night when the sensor detects either darkness or motion. Note that, changing the switch to ON the position for a light with an ON/OFF/AUTO switch, tends to switch on the light regardless of whether it is dark or motion has been sensed. # 4. Check that the battery is charged Is the battery charged? If the solar light's battery is not charged, then the solar light will not light. To check if the solar light's battery is drained or not: • (If possible) access, remove the battery and use a multi-meter set to measure DC Voltage. Compare the the current battery voltage and with the voltage specified on the battery label. Voltages significantly lower (e.g. 0.9V for a 1.2 V battery) the expected battery voltage is sign of a battery not charging or bad battery. • (If possible) replace with a new or known working batteries batteries of the same size (follow the manufacturer's instructions). If the solar light comes on, you may need to establish why it is not being charged. • Check that the solar light's solar panel is not shaded in anyway (it may need to be charged for a day or so after removing the obstacle causing the shadow) • Check that the solar panel cable is plugged into the light (depends on model) • Check that the solar panel in not damaged in any one way Dim solar lights is usually a sign of batteries not charging fully, ageing batteries or lights set to the dim brightness switch setting. Check the section above on "Solar lights coming on for a short time". Click here to see the content below. for information on how to deal with batteries not charging fully or ageing batteries. Possible causes of dim solar panel lights • Some solar lights have a dim/full brightness setting switch. If they do, check that it is not set to the dim mode. Note that when the light setting is set to full brightness, the battery will not last as long as when it is set to the DIM mode. • Shading of the solar panel reducing its power output. Check and remove any obstructions casting shadows on the solar panels or if not possible, you can relocate the solar light to an area with plenty of sunlight during the day. • Several days of cloudy weather. The lights need several hours of sunlight to charge fully and will likely dim after a short time during days of cloudy weather. Solar lights typically require 4-6 hours of sunlight to charge. 3. How to fix solar lights that come on for a short time Solar lights coming on for a short time is usually a sign of either batteries not charging fully or ageing batteries. You are more likely to have ageing batteries after 1-2 years of service depending on quality of solar lights. Possible causes of batteries failing to charge fully • Shading of the solar panel. Check and remove any obstructions casting shadows on the solar panels or relocate the solar light to an area with plenty of sunlight during the day. • Several days of cloudy weather. Solar lights need several hours of sunlight to charge fully. Solar lights typically require 4-6 hours of sunlight to charge. 4. How to fix solar lights that do not work after rain If your solar lights do not work after the rains, check: • Have your lights received enough hours of sunshine? Solar lights typically require 4-6 hours of sunlight to charge. • For water or moisture leaks that may have destroyed the solar cells or solar light circuity How long solar panels last on average before replacement? Why is my inverter making noise?

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