Planning and Constructing Water Gardens

Follow these steps to learn the fundamentals of creating your own tranquil water garden.

| May 2017

  • Water gardens are great options for tranquil getaways.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Julianna Olah
  • Draw your plans on graph paper to help you visualize your entire project.
    Illustration by Fox Chapel
  • A sliced-through view of your project can help you work out how a design should be built.
    Illustration by Fox Chapel
  • A method of concealing butyl liner that gives the illusion of a natural pond.
    Illustration by Fox Chapel
  • This is a selection of the most useful materials.
    Illustration by Fox Chapel
  • These are the essential tools needed to get the job done.
    Illustration by Fox Chapel
  • “Water Gardens,” by Alan and Gill Bridgewater, gives an overview of water garden style and explains how to assess which style is suitable for a particular plot.
    Cover courtesy Fox Chapel

Whether your water garden is simple or complex, Water Gardens (Fox Chapel, 2016), by Alan and Gill Bridgewater, guides you through all the key elements to a successful water garden from choosing a project to stocking it with fish. The Bridgewaters have international reputations as producers of highly successful gardening and DIY books on a range of garden, deck, patio and household woodworking designs. This excerpt is from the “Getting Started” section.

If you want the project to run smoothly, you must sort out everything – from who does what and when through to the order of work and what happens if it rains on the day when you are expecting delivery of concrete. If you plan everything out to the last detail, with drawings, lists and schedules, then not only will you get the job done with the minimum of sweat and stress, but along the way you will also probably have a lot of fun and enjoyment.

Deciding What to Keep

When you are planning a new water garden, do not be in a hurry to remove existing trees or large structures; it may be possible (or essential) to incorporate them into your design. If you do have to dig holes, cut down trees or remove structures, then do your utmost to reuse these materials.

Measuring Your Garden

Start by drawing a rough plan (overhead view) of your existing garden. Measure the overall length of the boundaries, critical angles, the position of the house, the gate, other structures, trees and plants you want to keep, the position of the sun at various times throughout the day, and anything else that you think might affect the design. Record these items and measurements on your rough plan.

Additional Features Requiring Planning

Sometimes primary structures like bridges and decks are so complex in themselves that they need to have individual plans in their own right. For example, with a deck you must not only make drawings showing it in plan view, but you must also show all the critical details such as the leg-fixings in cross-section.



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