How to Build a Pond in a Box
Create a water garden and a planter in one container.
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Adding a water feature to your landscape doesn't have to be costly and time-consuming. In fact, how about thinking inside the box?
Jane Shannon's pond-in-a-box project is a great option to add life to a small deck or apartment balcony. You'll end up with a divided box — one side for potted plants, another for a little pond (figure A).
To get started, you'll need to gather your tools and 1" x 8" cedar boards for the main box and 1" x 2" sticks for finishing and support.
Building the box
Now measure the interior of your box (the shorter depth) to figure out the length of the divider you'll place to separate your potted plants and pond. Cut your board to length, and it should be snug enough that it won't even need screwing (figure C).
Preparing the box for plants
Before you fill your pond with water, you'll need something to keep it from leaking out: a heavy-duty rubber-based liner (figure D). It's flexible and easy to cut, but you'll have to work with it to make it fit your box.
A staple gun makes securing the liner around the edge of the box a snap. Put your first staple in the middle of one wall. As you go, pound the liner in place with a hammer.
And when you come to a corner, think of wrapping a gift — tuck and fold and you'll eventually get the liner to fit snugly (figure E).
If you're thinking of putting fish in your pond, you'll need to be extra careful that there's no possibility the liner will leak. You might also want to invest in an oxygenator. Also, you'll want to keep algae down if the box is outdoors. A few drops of an algae-reducing product won't hurt your fish or plants.
If you want to be able to move the box around once it's filled, add casters. When you drill holes for the casters along the bottom of the box, be careful that your drill bit doesn't puncture the rubber liner.
One last thing: Drill holes on the soil side of your box for proper drainage.
Fill your planter side with soil before adding water to the other side. That way, if you accidentally spill it into the water side, it'll be an easy cleanup and you can avoid dirtying the water.
When planting, it's a good idea to use plants with similar water and lighting needs.
As for the pond side of your box, a few rocks in your potted plants will help keep them submerged. And consider plants that prefer no pot at all, like a water hyacinth or water lettuce.
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