Build Your Own Natural Swimming Hole
(Page 4 of 5)
To finish the edges of your pool, run a plate compactor around the perimeter. This will help with soil erosion, but it’s not enough to guarantee that extra soil won’t get into your pool. One option is to edge the perimeter with rocks, flagstone or wood planking. Better still, plant right next to the edge and let the plants stabilize the perimeter, says Martin Mosko, principal architect with Marpa Design Studio (www.Marpa.com), a landscaping company based in Boulder, Colorado. Plants work not only to anchor the soil, but create a natural setting for an old-fashioned, swimming-hole effect. Mosko says if you use plants instead of stone, choose plants that thrive in wet soil or make sure the water level is at least a foot below the pool’s edge so the perimeter plants don’t become waterlogged.
Prepare for planting
Once your pool is constructed, you’ll need to prepare the plant zone with 3 to 6 inches of soil. Choose your soil with care as soil can carry various contaminants. Avoid harvesting soil from areas where animals have been kept, or that contains a large proportion of organic matter that has not yet decomposed. If you have concerns, get the soil tested – contact your state’s health department. Once soil, gravel and hardware are in place, fill the pool carefully to avoid disturbing the soil and let the pool rest for a week before installing plants. During this time, you can test your hardware to make sure it works.
The secret ingredient
Sedges (Carex) and rushes (Scirpus), both aquatic plants, make great emergent vegetation for your pool’s perim-eter. You can also consider lesser cattails (Typha angustifolia) and aquatic irises, though be sure to ask which varieties won’t overcrowd other plants. Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), arrowhead (Sagittaria) and water primroses (Ludwigia) are all contenders for the shallowest areas of your pool. Be sure to include submergent plants such as common waterweed (Elodea) and hornwort (Ceratophyllum) for their high oxygen output.
In water 6 to 18 inches deep, plant a mix of floating, submergent and emergent plants. Water lilies (Nymphaea) adapt to any depth, so use them liberally. Floaters, such as pondweeds (Potamogeton) and common duckweed (Lemna minor), drift freely and quickly cover the surface of the plant zone.
Once you’ve purchased your plants, you can plant them in the filled pool. Stick to a plan, grouping plants according to height and type. Place your plants into the soil, anchoring them with plenty of gravel.
Get rid of the green
Both microscopic and macroscopic algae can cause your pond to turn green, but they can usually be controlled by limiting the pond’s nutrient levels, keeping oxygen levels high and nurturing a healthy plant zone.
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