Monday, May 11, 2009

#16...potting a pond

When choosing something for the landscape for the little curved bed just off my front porch steps, I wanted something sculptural, but not something too overpowering. I decided to test my green thumb by growing a potted water garden. Surprisingly, the water garden pot has turned out to be less maintenance than any of my other plants.

Here's how I made it, and some tips on how I care for it.

First, I found a pot at a garden center. This pot has a metallic bronze glaze on the bottom portion and was natural terracotta on the top portion. To ready the pot to hold water, I filled the bottom water hole in the pot with silicone used for sealing windows and doors that I bought in tube form and squeezed into the hole to close it up.

Next, I painted the entire inside of the terracotta pot with DRYLOK waterproofer. Since DRYLOK only came in white, and I did not want the interior of my pond to be white, I simply mixed a little bit of black acrylic paint that I had lying around into the DRYLOK to make it a gray color. I went ahead and painted the DRYLOK on the outside terracotta rim of the pot, as I did not like the terracotta look anyway, and wanted to totally seal the terracotta so that the water would not seep out. Note: DRYLOCK is messy! Wear gloves and expect your brush to get so mangeled that you'll throw it away.

Lastly, I painted the exterior rim of the pot with a gray/brown exterior latex floor paint that was leftover from when we painted the lattice skirting on our house.Then came time to fill the pot with water. I filled the pot and let it stand for a few weeks, monitoring if any water was seeping out, and how much was lost to evaporation. If it had lost a lot of water I figured I would drain it, check my silicone plug, and apply more DRYLOK.

Very little water is lost to evaporation. During the fall, winter and spring I have to add about 2 inches to the top about every six weeks. During the summer, I have to add the same 2 inches about once a week. This pot actually requires soooo much less water than a ground plant requires.

When it came time to choose plants, I did a little on-line research and found many on-line water garden nurseries selling plants. For about $25 I was able to purchase 5 varieties of water plants. My pot sits on the Northeast corner of my house, so I was observant of the sun it got and did my best to order plants that would thrive in my pot's sun allotment. The plants came in the mail, and looked like limp seaweed, but I carefully planted them according to the instructions that came with them. Click here for a diagram and more info on how to place water plants in pot.
Of the five plants that I ordered, only two lived, and only one is doing really well. The lily (shown above) has made lily pads covering the entire water surface....but no lily blooms yet. The taller plant is supposed to be about 2 feet tall, but it only sticks out of the water about 6 inches. Despite that the plants may not have done exactly what I thought they would, I like how the pond looks, and I love the little maintenance it needs.
This project took about six hours over the course of several weeks. Costs totaled less than $200, and included:
Pot: $120
DRYLOK paint: $25
Silicone: $6
Plants: $25
Pavers and Containers for Elevating Plants: $10


Teri said...

Very cool--Lilly would be over the moon if we could grow lily pads---
I'm thinking the evaporation factor here in the desert would make it hard to keep up with.
Also, you aren't worried about mosquitos?

Christie Chase said...

There are some water plants that will grow in an indoor water pot that gets indirect light...but then you would probably have to contend with your cat. Mosquitos don't seem to be a problem. My pot is in the front of my house, and the city sprays on our street, so maybe that is why we don't have any.