With triple digits hanging on, how do you beat the heat? You could stay indoors in air conditioned comfort, despite warnings that there may be power problems ahead. Or you could look to the outdoors for the natural cooling of your own garden and landscaping.
Shade is important, whether it’s a covered patio or a canopy of protected trees. Combine it with the sight and sound of water and you’ve got it made! A well-planned shade garden is an inviting respite, especially when it has the appealing element of water.
Relaxing near a water garden can be soothing and sensual, augmented by wildlife – the songs of birds, chirping of crickets, and flashing colors of fish darting about under the lily pads. Add the gentle splashing of a fountain to maximize your enjoyment. Some folks will complain that placing a pond under trees can create a nuisance – leaves clogging filters and debris making for dirty water. A skimmer filter with surface sweeping action can solve this. Maintenance requires only a few seconds to empty the net that catches the leaves.
Of course there are varying degrees of shade. Trees with finely textured leaves will allow dappled shade, while oaks and maples with large leaves and dense, spreading canopies will completely block sunlight most of the day. Fences, walls and buildings will provide a dense shade, while a lath structure creates a lighter environment.
Even soil moisture is important, so remember that thirsty tree roots will soak up available water first. Consider a drip or mist system, which will cool both soil and air. Select plants such as hosta, ferns, coleus and caladiums to provide texture and color variation. If you are starting your water garden retreat, take time to browse through nurseries and garden centers to find trees, shrubs and plants to achieve the effect you want. If you have space for a large tree, select one that grows well in your area; the professional staff can help. And do look ahead, choosing one that will not grow beyond the allotted space.
Smaller gardens can use medium-size specimens, such as dogwood, that can provide canopy but not overpower the site. Remember that the water garden should be a place to relax, so provide a stone bench or weather proof lounge, with some whimsical statuary. Even small animal figures such as frogs, turtles and squirrels can be tucked effectively among the plants.
You may choose to have your pond installed by professionals or do-it-yourself, using and of the kits on the market. Even without space for an in-the-ground pond, you can enjoy the benefits of water gardening. Half a wine barrel with a few water lilies can grace a patio, with or without a recirculating pump to include the sound of splashing water.
Two or three-tiered fountains can also be used, surrounded by container plants to provide the lush look of greenery. At the edge of the lawn a shallow bowl can be used for a birdbath. Enjoy the sound of water by hanging a plastic milk jug above it with holes punched in the bottom to allow the water to drip out. Large scale or small, the sight and sound of water can help beat the heat this summer.