Monday, September 22, 2008

Green Your Water Garden

Like most people in San Diego, my husband and I have a tiny yard. In our tiny yard is a water feature that looks like a mini tropical oasis, complete with two small waterfalls (more like trickles) and a palm tree in the center.

When we bought our home, the previous owners advised us to add a chemical called "Shock" to the water to keep algae from growing in the water feature. So in the beginning, we faithfully added our chemicals and enjoyed our little slice of paradise.

But then we started thinking...if this chemical is killing the algae, what else is it doing? We decided to research some green alternatives to the chemicals and within a few hours we had a new game plan.

Even though our water feature is rather small, we were able to add two types of aquatic plants and a few fish to the water to keep clean. We selected water irises and water lilies to filter the water and mosquito fish to snack on the algae.

You might think this sounds like a lot of work but it was incredibly simple. The aquatic plants came in planters that we just placed directly into the water. The hardest part was picking out the plants that we wanted - there's a huge variety available.

We also bought three mosquito fish at the aquatic garden center and dropped them straight into the water garden. Apparently they were "busy" because now we have hundreds of fish. Good thing they are small!

Between the plants and the fish, our eco-friendly water garden is healthier than ever. Every day we can ooh and ahh over our beautiful flowers, like the water lily in the picture above. And we are visited by butterflies and birds of all sorts, who like to cool off in the water. We were even graced with a hummingbird nest that cradled twin hummingbird eggs that hatched last spring. That nest, holding two birds, is about the same diameter as a D battery. Amazing! If that’s not proof that small changes make a big difference, I don’t know what is.