Water gardens or garden pools have become a popular part of landscape architecture in the United States. Water gardens are visually soothing and seem to connect people to the natural aquatic world. The esthetic value of water gardens is enhanced by the almost endless variety of design and planting options that make each one a unique and personal creation.
The location of the water garden is critical to its ecology and maintenance, as well as to your enjoyment of it. Sunlight is needed for plant photosynthesis. Plants are important to the water gardens ecology because they produce oxygen, remove and recycle nutrients, and provide shade and hiding places for fish and other inhabitants. A water garden should be situated to receive at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.
However, direct sun at mid-day during the warmest months can cause shallow pools to overheat. Locating the water garden so that it can be viewed from the house will increase your enjoyment and allow you to supervise it. Be sure to control access to the water garden to ensure the safety of children. A good view of the water garden will also help you spot unwanted visitors such as predators.
Water gardens should not be located over utility services. Check with utility companies for the location of underground lines. Water gardens should not be located directly under trees because roots hamper excavation and may cause structural damage later.Also leaves foul the water and over-hanging branches may exude toxic substances into the water garden.
The depth of a water garden depends on design, local climate, and over-wintering strategies. Many year-round outdoor water gardens have a section at least 3 or 4 feet deep that does not freeze in the winter and gives fish a cool retreat during hot weather. Large koi carp, in particular, tend to lose color and become stressed if they do not have a cool place to stay during hot weather.
Construction of a water garden can be simple or complex. Water gardens built of fiberglass or concrete take considerable construction skill. Earthen and plasticliner pools require less construction skill or experience.
Many commercial firms selling water garden equipment offer consulting services on design, construction and maintenance. Use available expertise and your own creativity to design a water garden reflecting your imagination and taste.
Water gardens can be relatively expensive to build and maintain. Cost of construction varies with size and the materials used, but can range from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. Construction plans should be reviewed by local governmental agencies to ensure that the proposed pool complies with all building codes.
Water gardens may be irregular or geometric in shape. Irregularly shaped water gardens have a natural look, while the geometric shapes appear more formal. Before you start construction, try laying out possible water garden designs using a garden hose or rope.
Whether your water garden is a plastic tub or an aesthetic wonder, good water quality is essential. Poor quality water makes the water garden less attractive and can harm fish and plants. Once the basics of water quality are understood, maintenance will require a minimum of time.
The first consideration is a supply of good quality water to fill the pool. The most common sources are city water and well water. Surface water from a creek or pond is not recommended as it may contain contaminants, diseases and wild fish, any of which may harm the water gardens ecosystem. If city water is used it must be dechlorinated before adding fish and plants.
One common mistake is stocking too many fish. A water garden is suitable for fish only as long as it can supply adequate oxygen and decompose the wastes produced. The number of fish the water garden can support depends on factors such as the size of the water garden, size of the fish, temperature, amount of sunlight the water garden receives, whether or not aeration is provided, and how well the natural or rtificial filtration system removes wastes.
A water garden is a wonderful way to enjoy the natural beauty of aquatic plants and animals and gain a better understanding of the complexities of aquatic ecosystems. Designing the water garden and its surroundings is an outlet for creative expression and enables urban dwellers to add a serene, natural environment to their yards.
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* Climate change is an urgent topic of discussion among politicians, journalists and celebrities…but what do scientists say about climate change? Does the data validate those who say humans are causing the earth to catastrophically warm? Richard Lindzen, an MIT atmospheric physicist and one of the world’s leading climatologists, summarizes the science behind climate change.
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I’m an atmospheric physicist. I’ve published more than 200 scientific papers. For 30 years I taught at MIT, during which time the climate has changed remarkably little. But the cry of “global warming” has grown ever more shrill. In fact, it seems that the less the climate changes, the louder the voices of the climate alarmists get. So, let’s clear the air and create a more accurate picture of where we really stand on the issue of global warming or, as it is now called—“climate change.”
There are basically three groups of people dealing with this issue. Groups one and two are scientists. Group three consists mostly, at its core, of politicians, environmentalists and the media.
Group one is associated with the scientific part of the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change or IPCC (Working Group 1). These are scientists who mostly believe that recent climate change is primarily due to man’s burning of fossil fuels—oil, coal and natural gas. This releases C02, carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere and, they believe, this might eventually dangerously heat the planet.
Group two is made up of scientists who don’t see this as an especially serious problem. This is the group I belong to. We’re usually referred to as skeptics.
We note that there are many reasons why the climate changes—the sun, clouds, oceans, the orbital variations of the earth, as well as a myriad of other inputs. None of these is fully understood, and there is no evidence that CO2 emissions are the dominant factor.
But actually there is much agreement between both groups of scientists. The following are such points of agreement:
1) The climate is always changing.
2) CO2 is a greenhouse gas without which life on earth is not possible, but adding it to the atmosphere should lead to some warming.
3) Atmospheric levels of CO2 have been increasing since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 19th century.
4) Over this period (the past two centuries), the global mean temperature has increased slightly and erratically by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit or one degree Celsius; but only since the 1960’s have man’s greenhouse emissions been sufficient to play a role.
5) Given the complexity of climate, no confident prediction about future global mean temperature or its impact can be made. The IPCC acknowledged in its own 2007 report that “The long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
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Climate Change: What Do Scientists Say?