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How To: Make a Water Garden

updated May 9, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We love the idea of an in-ground water garden or a water fountain, but we don’t have a backyard. This water garden could work even in a small area like a balcony or a patio. Check out step by step instructions after the jump…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Think of it as “a miniature water garden in a box.” The size of the box could vary and you could create additional sections if you have more space. This could be a lovely addition to any balcony or a patio. For more detailed instructions check out Do It Yourself website.

• Wood
• Water sealant
• Plastic liner
•Water plants (Plants used in this how to: Japanese sweet flag, arrowhead, common duckweed, broadleaf, stonecrop, houseleek, deer fern, and blue-eyed grass.)
• Potting soil
• Pea gravel
• Gazing ball or other ornament

• Handsaw or circular saw
• Hammer and nails
• Drill
• Wood screws, screwdriver

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Step by Step Instructions:

1. Get 1×8 – inch cedar boards. (You could use 1×10 or 1×12 boards to create a deeper pond.)

2. You will need 2 pieces that are 30-inches long for the sides and 2 pieces that are 15-inches long for the ends of the box.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

3. Assemble the outer frame with a hammer and some nails.

4. Measure the interior dimensions for the floor of the box. You can use the same 1×8-inch wood or you could get some 3/4-inch exterior plywood. Cut the wood with a hand saw or circular saw, or you could have it cut at your local hardware store. You want your cuts to be as straight as possible to minimize gapping.

5. Pre-drill holes every 6 inches along the edges of the box to attach the bottom piece. Start with attaching long side to the base first, then the two short sides, and finish with the remaining long side. Use wood screws to connect the boards.

6. If you want to create a divider, as illustrated in this project, for a separate planting box—cut another piece of wood that is the width of your interior. You can try it in a few different spots, before you decide on where you would like it. In this example one-third of the box is for plants and two thirds are for the water garden. When you are happy with the placement, attach the divider with the wood screws.

7. Use additional wood screws to fasten the end joints on all four corners. Screw them in as tight as possible to minimize gapping.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

8. Apply sealant to lengths of 1×2-inch stripes of wood and fasten them to each corner. They will strengthen the box and provide additional sealing.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

9. On the inside of the box, install a plastic liner or use a water sealant. If you are planning on having fish in your water garden, make sure that the sealant that you choose is safe for aquatic life.

10. If you are going to have a garden side in your box, you will need to drill two or three holes in the bottom to provide drainage.

11. You are now ready to create a composition with your plants. Try choosing some that vary in size, texture, and form. Choose a combination of edge, submerged, and floating plants. Select some that are taller and a couple trailing plants.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

12. Fill the garden side with potting soil and fill it with plants that have similar growing requirements.

13. If you are using floating plants in the water garden, place them on a brick, so they sit two inches below the water surface.

14. As a final touch you could add ornamental elements for visual interest. You could also paint the outside of your box for a different look.

For some helpful tips on how to plant in your water garden click here and for ideas on how to maintain your water garden follow this link.