Ponds and Water Gardens for Kids (all ages)
Question: My child wants to grow water lilies and fish in a half-barrel? Can that be done?
Answer: Yes. This miniature type of water garden is simple to put together and care for, and can provide many hours of pleasure. Place it in a spot where you and your child can closely observe it and enjoy the wildlife it will surely attract.
Select a partly sunny location where the surface of the water will receive bright most of the day, but be shaded during the hottest afternoon hours. If this isn’t possible, be sure to add plenty of underwater plants so the water stays well oxygenated.
Start with a clean, plastic half-barrel designed for a pond, or line a wooden half-barrel or similar container with the special pond liner material. This material, which is not toxic to fish, is sold at water garden suppliers by the foot or prepackaged to fit the half-barrels.
Fill your barrel with clean water and treat it, if necessary, to remove chlorine and other chemicals used to purify drinking water.
Help your child select one water lily that will not grow too large; another surface plant, such as floating heart or floating snowflake (Nymphoides); several bog plants, such as spike rush, arrowhead, or parrot’s feather; and several bundles of submerged oxygenating plants. When used together, all of these plants will form part of the ecosystem in your pond, fight algae, and help keep the water clean.
You should allow the pond about two weeks to regulate itself before adding fish and a few snails. Add just a few inexpensive goldfish, guppies, or mosquito fish to avoid overcrowding. Your child will enjoy feeding the fish (just a tiny pinch will do) and watching the frogs, dragonflies, and birds that discover your pond.
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