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Water in the Garden

Water adds a special dimension to any garden. A water garden can provide an eye-catching focal point for your landscape design. The sound of water muffles sounds of the outside world, helping to create a sensory retreats. And water attracts and benefits wild creatures from birds to beneficial insects.

There are many ways to incorporate a water feature into your garden. It could be a fountain on the balcony or deck, a small pond and waterfall in the back garden, or a reflecting pool with fountains that fills the front of your property.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Sometimes the issue is not bringing water into the garden, but dealing with a seasonal excess of it. Plan ahead to use wise water strategies in your landscape design to channel water safely and attractively in the rainy season.

One popular strategy is the use of a dry stream bed in home landscapes. In truth, these are water features -- ditches cut so they can be lined with large rocks and filled with smaller, rounder ones. When rainfall or local flooding overwhelms the soil's ability to absorb it, the flow is directed into the dry stream bed. By staging the bed so it drops from one level to another, greater amounts of water can be accommodated, pools and waterfalls are created, and the bed becomes a working part of the backyard habitat.

Maintaining a Water Feature

The most important consideration when setting up a water feature is balancing the mini-ecosystem. While algae is less prevalent in moving water, it can still crowd the view and stifle the plants below, especially in sunny sites. Be sure to include plants that grow underwater, some to line the pond and shade it, and enough to float and cover 60 percent of the water's surface. Once the pond is set up, the key is patience. It may take several months to balance out, and no magic product exists to instantly solve the problem.

Stagnant water is the source of mosquito infestations and must be avoided. Use mosquito dunks (containing the safe bacterial insecticide B.t.) to kill the larvae in still water, or keep the water moving with a pump -- well worth the investment if it prevents mosquito populations from building in your water feature.

Read more from the National Gardening Association