Garden Design Myths – Episode 1 – Water

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Garden design has a rich history. You only have to look at history to see the Romans and their green boulevards, the Egyptians and their palace courtyards. Whilst it’s a far cry from your roof garden in Hackney, it’s all the same practice. This wealth of time and effort spent on garden design has allowed us to perfect the art – but with such a long history, there are bound to be consequences.

With the natural world, the smallest mistake can make a big difference. We’ve all followed bad advice before, planting our bulbs at the wrong time of year or in the wrong area of the patch. Laying patios or terraces without properly levelling the ground, purchasing timber which hasn’t been properly treated. They’re mistakes you only make once, but there’s a lot of common garden design myths out there that you need to understand. Below are 4 of the most popular ones that we hear, along with our opinion of it…

Green Roof Gardens Leak & Cause Structural Damage

Well, yes. But only as much as any normal roof. Every type of roof needs to be installed properly and professionally, every type of roof needs a high-quality waterproofing membrane – this stands true whether your roof is made of thatch, grass, slate or acrylic. Whether you’re installing an entirely green roof, or just having a patch of lawn on your roof garden, you’re at no higher risk of leakage and damage than with a traditional roof.

In fact, a lot of leakage is caused by the deterioration of the waterproof membrane from direct sunlight and UV rays. A green roof will actually protect a green roof from this threat.

Hardy Plants Are Hardy From Day One

This is particularly important when dealing with drought-tolerant plants, but is applicable for all hardy varieties. If you’re purchasing greenery because of its resistant properties to certain elemental effects, you need to bear in mind that younger plants won’t have fully developed this protection yet. A lot of sources will tell you that breeds like Russian sage and Black-eyed Susans will be able to fend for themselves, but this isn’t true in the first year. Until root systems are fully developed, they’re just as vulnerable.

After 12 months, the advice becomes true – but not before. Make sure you take necessary care and precaution over hardy plants, otherwise you might find yourself some months behind your planting goals.

Garden Ponds Need To Be Deep

Not true. The ability of your garden pond to sustain aquatic life and health isn’t dependent upon its depth. Sure, you can’t dig a 4-inch trench and call it a pond – but you’re good with about two feet. Many pond-dwelling fish, including Koi Carp, can hibernate in as little as 24 inches of water. If you live in a cold region and are worried about water this shallow and its capacity to freeze, all you need is circulating pump and a heater. The heater can be tiny and designed to just keep a breathing hole open. It doesn’t matter if the edges freeze up.

For those of you worried about predators eating your fish in shallow water, invest in a motion-activated water jet. Not only will you find it amusing to watch birds and cats flee from the spray, it’ll also protect your fish as much as the best surface net.

Smaller Water Features Are Easier

Ask anybody who has had aquariums and fish tanks in their home and you’ll invariably hear that the larger, the easier to maintain. Smaller water features rarely have the water and air flow to sustain themself without your intervention and help. Water features and ponds will develop more biological stability over time, regardless of their size. Don’t be drawn into buying smaller, less-impressive water features if your design calls for a bigger piece.

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  • […] We’re all trying to do the best for our plants, but when do we become more hindrance than help? We’ve looked at a few of the most common but obscure myths surrounding plant care in order to help you avoid unwittingly harming your garden. If you missed our last debunking of garden design myths, you can read it here. […]


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