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Container water gardens are easy to install and are ideal for small spaces like balconies and decks.
Container water gardens are easy to install and are ideal for small spaces like balconies and decks. (iStockphoto.com)
Posted: June 07, 2014

Make a water garden in a container. Although you might have enough space to make a pond, ponds require time, energy, and lots of maintenance. On the other hand, if you love the idea of having a water element in your garden, container water gardens are easy to install and are especially great for small spaces like balconies, decks, and postage-stamp gardens. All you need is a watertight container, a few plants suited to the size of the container, and a soil mix heavy enough to secure the plants' roots so they won't bob to the surface. Of course, in any type of water garden, mosquitoes are guaranteed to come. You can deter these insects by installing a small fountain to agitate the water surface. If that's not an option, doughnut-shaped mosquito repellent (containing Bacillus thuringiensis) will kill the mosquito larvae. You'll need to replace the repellent when it eventually dissolves in the water.

Create a fragrant pathway. Turn the walk to your front or back door into a wonderfully fragrant experience by planting herbs along a sunny path. The closer you plant the herbs to the edge of the path, the more likely they'll spill over into where your footsteps will help release the herbal fragrance. You can choose from a variety of herbs, either perennials (such as lavender, oregano, sage, and thyme) or annuals (such as basil, dill, rosemary, and summer savory).

Turn your whole garden into a butterfly garden. Rather than designate only one bed as such, spread the wealth of pollinator food plants throughout the garden to nourish butterflies, bees, and wasps, all good pollinators. Incorporate native perennials such as butterfly weed ( Asclepias tuberosa), blazing star ( Liatris species), and purple coneflower ( Echinacea purpurea). You also can plant serviceberry ( Amelanchier species) and fall-blooming witch hazel ( Hamamelis virginiana), both small, native trees. Some non-native annuals like zinnia and marigold, as well as shrubs such as butterfly bush ( Buddleia davidii) and lilac ( Syringa species), can also be sources of nourishment for insect pollinators.


Patricia Schrieber is director of education for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) ( www.phsonline.org), and co-owner of Valentine Gardens ( www.valentine-gardens.com).

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