Every year it seems something new comes along making the building of a garden pond easier and the end result more satisfying. In past years the availability of high quality pond liners enabled the pond builder almost unlimited flexibility in pond size and shape. Here we're looking at the finished result and what can be done to improve the aesthetics of the pond. One answer - floating island planters!
Floating island planters aren't particular about who they host. Putting it another way, a majority of pond plants find these planters to be a perfect environment in which to flourish.
In terms of landscaping, the available combinations of planting beds are huge. You can plant anything from cattails to creeping jenny and even change the contents of the planter throughout the season. A splash of color in a bed of green is always attractive.
For some ponds, particularly large ones, free-floating planters offer a constantly changing scene while for other ponds it may be preferable to anchor the planters in selected locations.
These floating planters can be more than just pleasing to the eye. The root structure of the floating islands absorbs nutrients in the water, helping to maintain the quality of the water by acting as an efficient pond cleanser. In particular, the islands can help discourage the formation of algae while at the same time providing a source of nourishment for more desirable aquatic life. What you have in effect is an aesthetically pleasing water filtration system and nutrient provider.
In determining the contents of your island you can select a host of plant life that combines beauty with function. Your floating island may even take on the characteristic of a hobby, with a limitless variety of trials and outcomes to experiment with.
We mentioned that the planters are beneficial to aquatic life, e.g. fish, from a nutritional standpoint. Fish also find the islands a source of protection from raptors, such as the osprey, and other predators as well as a cool haven on days when the sun is beating down on the pond.
In larger ponds, various forms of wildlife may be attracted to the floating islands. The root structure is an ideal place for frogs to lay their eggs while above the surface the planters offer a safe haven and nesting habitat for everything from turtles and salamanders to bird life.
You don't have to wait for the summer months to plan and build your floating planters. In fact some folks get going when ice covers the pond, successfully putting the planters in place while the ice does the work of holding everything up.
There are certain plants which are best seeded in the fall and begin to appear in early spring. Putting plants in place during the late spring or summer of course provides instant beauty. No waiting to see what comes up and what doesn't. Depending on what you want and the circumstances affecting your landscaping goals you may be able to get started at most any time of the year.
An area in which care and maintenance of floating planters differs from other types of gardening is fertilizing. Fertilizers are for the most part an enemy of pond water quality. Any excess of fertilizer will more than likely encourage the growth of algae and aquatic weeds. Fertilizing should be done sparingly and carefully - if at all. If fertilizing is a must, the use of special wetland fertilizers which break down slowly and do not burn the new plants would be the recommended approach.