Water Gardens

Choosing a Liner:

  • There are two types of liners to choose from. One type is a flexible 45 mil EPDM liner. This comes in various sizes or can be cut to size for larger projects. We carry them in various widths, which we cut to length and can special order up to 50 feet wide.The other type is a preformed liner, which is made out of a heavy UV resistant plastic or fiberglass. Preformed liners are easier to install than the flexible liner, but can be more expensive on the larger scale.

    Concrete is not recommended in the northeast due to the severe winters. In most cases, concrete will crack within the first five years. (We are able to line the concrete ponds with the flexible liner.)

    Plants for the Water Garden:

    There are so many beautiful plants to choose from. The most popular being the serene water lily: There are two types of water lilies, hardy (will winter over) and the tropical varieties.


    • Hardy varieties come in red, yellow, pink, white and orange/yellow. They bloom during the day between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
    • Tropical varieties are divided into two groups: day bloomers, (and come in red, yellow, pink, white, blue, purple and green) and night blooming which open at 8 p.m. and close the next day at noon, (and come in red, white and pink.

    Water hyacinths & water lettuce are great for adding shade to the water in a short amount of time which will help clear the water if you are using the natural balance method, or if you are using a version of the wetland filtration system. These little plants will mass and help do the bulk of the filtration.

    Oxygenators are totally submerged in the water. They not only add oxygen to the pond during daylight hours, but they also help reduce algae by competing for the same nutrients. They also provide a safe place for fish to lay their eggs and for fish fry to hide.

    There is also the beautiful and exotic looking lotus. This magnificent plant can reach heights of 6 feet out of the water. The Lotus is hardy in New England! Colors include Red, Pink, White, Yellow, and Lavender.

    Bog plants (plants that sit on a shelf of a pond, partially submerged) come in two types. The hardy varieties include pickerel rush, rises, arrowhead, zebra rush, cattails, lizard tails, reeds, marsh marigolds and many more.

    The tropical varieties include canna, umbrella palm, papyrus and more!


    Fish give a beautiful lining aspect to the pond and finish balancing the ecosystem. We recommend two types of fish for ponds the first is goldfish which come in a variety of colors including red, white, orange, black and blue. The other is koi, which have even more colors including gold & platinum and will look like living jewels in your water garden. The fish can also stay outside for the winter. They go into a type of hibernation and don’t eat once the water temp is below 50 degrees. Their one requirement for winter is a hole in the ice to enable oxygen to enter the pond. A pond de-icer is recommended.

    Maintenance Requirements:

    Your pond will benefit from a good spring cleaning. This involves removing debris from their bottom, dividing and replanting of aquatic plants, thinning of the fish population and cleaning of the filter. Usually a partial water change is done at this time. You do not need to scrub the sides down. The spring cleaning usually takes an afternoon or a weekend depending on the size of the water garden. Summer maintenance should not exceed two hours. Fertilizing the plants, and topping off the pond occasionally is all that is required.

    Remember this is supposed to be fun, not a lot of work!

    Clear Water:

    The question of how to keep pond water clear is one that always comes up. Our philosophy is to keep it simple and low maintenance. To be able to do that, we try different systems to see if they will perform the way pond keepers want them to.

    • There is a method called the natural balance. This uses plants to keep the pond clear (pond clear, not swimming pool clear). Using this method you will have a green period in the spring, until the plant materigarden2al (such as water lilies and water hyacinths) can grow to give 2/3 surface coverage and the submersible plants kick in. This works well in small ponds (usually up to 40 square feet) with a low population of goldfish.
    • Our next choice is the Wetland Filtration System. The wetland allows the pond keeper to have more open water to enjoy more fish or the reflecting qualities of the water. By using a combination of lava rock, plant material and proper sizing of an upper pond, water gardens will stay clear with this low maintenance approach. This is our specialty!
    • There are several types of compact filter systems on the market. Most tend to need a lot of maintenance, and unfortunately they don’t always keep the water clean.  Chapley Gardens carry several styles that will keep your water garden or koi pond clear.
    • Water gardening is constantly changing and new products always come onto the market. We are always looking and trying our new products to see if they will help or hinder the home water garden.