Garden Coach on Patio Water Garden In A Weekend

January 28, 2008

8_waterf_topview_horiz.jpgRead on for the tale of how shopping for vegie starts in the summer of 2007 resulted in the installation of a new waterfeature for our patio .

Day 1, Act 1: The Morning Nursery Visit: I ask Bob if he’d like to go to a local nursery with me to spend some coupons & pick up a few vegie starts. I’d been to the nursery earlier that week & had seen some leggy but viable vegies still for sale. Bob accepts. We go to the nursery around 9am. All vegies are gone until fall. With soon-to-expire valuable 50% coupons burning a hole in my pocket, I feel the need to at least look around in case there’s some kind of “must have” in the garden center. I almost decide to buy a box of organic fertilizer I’ve been wanting to try. But, then, I see a waterfeature trickling & wonder what the price is for a small bamboo spigot. Low & behold, the “floor model” price was reasonable — $29.95 for a spigot with pump attached. With my coupons — OMG! How could I resist?! In other garden centers, pumps were retailing at $35-$40. Spigots & bubblers were that price as well. 1_container_before2.jpgI knew I had a container at home that I wanted to renovate. Sure, 11_waterf_pitcherplant_vert.jpgit had drainage holes, but I knew I could seal those with clear caulk in no time. So, we selected a couple of 25% off water plants, snatched up the bargain spigot & pump & headed home. We figured we’d have a waterfeature running in no time. We should have known better!

Day 1, Act 2: Preparing the Site: When we got home, Bob immediately began removing the plant material from the container. We knew that sealing the drainage holes in the pot would take a while as the sealant would need several hours to set up and harden. He got the plants out & all were in shape to be transplanted in new locations. I worked on getting rid of the roots by putting them in my worm compost bin; the worms will eat them. And, I distributed the soil into some garden locations. Bob then got the sealant out. Uh-0h, it takes 24 hours to 1 week to dry completely. Well, so much for soothing bubbling sounds on the patio tonight at dinner. Uh-oh #2, Bob points out that although we do have a plug available on the patio, it isn’t properly weatherproofed & it is mounted pretty high on a lamp pole. He wants to re-wire the pole to put a proper outdoor plug on it & hide the mounting as much as possible. We rinse out the container, grab a glass of iced tea & head to the hardware store around 11am.

Day 1, Act 3: Home Depot: Well, a weekend rarely goes by when Bob doesn’t have to make at least one trip to the Depot. We already needed to get a part for our BBQ, so having to go for the waterfeature just added more things to buy to our list. waterfall sealant in container drainage holesWe found a waterfall sealant foam spray that sets up in 1 hour and is sealed/hardened in 24 hours. After much digging through the electrical department, we were able to figure out how to put together, mount & seal a new outdoor plug & switch. (I say we, but mostly I mean Bob.) Of course, we had to buy a new drill bit to go with the electrical box and screws and washers as well. With all of this in hand, plus our BBQ racks, we checked out & headed home around 1 pm. (In case you can’t tell, the can of worms is wide open at this point.)

3_wiring_vert1.jpgDay 1, Act 4: Minimal Cursing from Bob the Electrician:
Right away, we fill the pot drainage holes with waterfall sealant. Its going to take 24 hours for that to be hardened and sealed. Between the drilling, rewiring, testing, and sealing, it takes Bob until around 4pm to get the electrical all set up so that we have power to the plug for the waterfeature. The lamp is now on an outdoor switch & the original “high up” plug is also charged. And, he managed this with very few 4 letter words.

4_wiring_sealed_vert.jpgDay 1, Act 5: Billy the Fish & Spot: All characters are exhausted at this point with no relaxing waterfeature to enjoy. So, we walk Shiloh to rent movies and stop at the pet shop to buy some goldfish for the new waterfeature. Goldfish are a great addition. They keep the waterfeature clean & they eat mosquito larvae!As I’m looking at the feeder fish (bargain priced at $.14/smalls & $.25/bigs), I think of the recent “Billy the Fish” posting. I can’t tell most of the fish apart, but two are white with orange spots. I named one “Billy” and the other, well of course, “Spot”. We return home & float their bags in the doggie swimming pool for the night.

5_container_filling_vert1.jpgDay 2, Act 1: Filling & Testing: In the morning, we set up the container in its location and begin placing containers & stones in the pot on which we will rest plants and decorative rock. In the early afternoon, we fill the container with water and insert the umbrella palm , water hyacinth and a bit of Duckweed we had purchased the day prior. We float the fish bags in the new waterfeature. Still, it seems a little empty.

Day 2, Act 2: Finishing Touches:
Bob and I wanted a few more water plants, so we ran up to another nearby garden center that has some cool carniverous bog plants. Here we found some pitcher plants to add to the garden. I wanted a purple taro, but theirs were a little sad and spendy, so we left them behind. (I also purchased a chocolate cosmos, which is now planted with my peanut butter bush, but that’s another story.) When we got home, we spent about another hour adjusting containers and stones to get everything just right. 7_fish_release_vert1.jpgAnd, we released the fish. Also, I had some Acorus in the garden beds, which I dug & planted in the water garden after reading it does well in these spaces. (That was another can of worms as I found about a trash container of roofing material left from our roofers last year hidden in this planting bed – yuck!). 10_waterf_bobsmile_horiz.jpgWe are still doing some fine tuning, but we were able to relax on the patio with iced tea and beer and listen to our new waterfeature. We’re both happy with it & I’m glad Bob was still smiling at the end!

Day 2, Act 3: Celebratory Meal: Just before Bob and I sat down to an amazing dinner of Spicy Lemon Verbena Meatballs, Spicy Cilantro Slaw, (The Herbal Kitchen, by Jerry Traunfeld) Jasmine rice & Vihno Verde, we took a moment to feed Billy & his pals their first meal in their new home. They were timid at first, but soon were popping to the surface to grab goldfish flakes. Little do these “feeder” fish know how lucky they are. Oh, and gnats were gathering around the pitcher plants, destined to feed a beautiful part of this tiny ecosystem we love!


  1. Vera Bauer says:

    I really enjoyed this article you posted. Thank You.

  2. […] where traffic noise is bothersome. They provide meditation points in the garden. In my own garden, my small, potted water feature provides a source of fresh, recirculating water for birds, bees and other insects that visit it […]

  3. […] Installing a bamboo spigot potted patio water feature (like my hummingbird’s) […]

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