Reflecting on the Still of the Garden & Seasonal Water Feature Care

20140630-074206-27726176.jpgA Water Feature Needn’t be Large or Expensive to Add a Calm, Soothing, Reflective Element to the Garden

On these hot, humid summer days, my thoughts drift to quiet lakes or the sea. I often think that the only thing missing in my landscape, is a pond. Unfortunately, digging one won’t be in my budget for a long while. However, I’ve discovered that simply looking at a small pool of water can cool down a space considerably. With this in mind, every spring I place a water bowl at the corner of my Secret Garden door. I’m amazed by how much a tiny water feature can add to a landscape. In addition to the calm, pleasantly reflective surface the little pool provides, the water also creates a habitat for Prince Pickerel the frog and drinking water for birds, chipmunks, squirrels and other creatures. And I love to drink in the dark, cool refreshment with my eyes on sultry, summer days.

I’m frequently asked how I keep mosquitoes from breeding in this water feature. A recycling bubbler or fountain will prevent mosquitoes from lighting and reproducing on the surface of moving pools, but in still water, mosquitoes will become a problem unless the feature is properly maintained. Some water gardeners like to keep larvae-eating koi in their pools, while others empty their decorative water bowl and bird baths once a week to keep water free of mosquitoes. I like to sprinkle or float organic Bti —commonly known as mosquito dunks or granules— in my Secret Garden water bowl to keep the water free of mosquitos. OMRI-approved Bti is not a chemical, but a microscopic, naturally-occuring bacterium that attacks and kills mosquito and other aquatic fly larvae. It is harmless to mammals, amphibians, fish, reptiles, birds and other insects –including bees, butterflies and adult dragonflies– and safe for use in water features where animals drink. Mosquito dunks and granules must be refreshed every few weeks can usually be found wherever organic gardening products are sold (see online resource link, below).

Click here for Gardener’s Supply Company’s Organic Mosquito Control Rings for Still Water Features

Mosquitoes will breed in standing water. In order to prevent bird baths, water bowls and still pools from becoming mosquito-havens it’s essential to empty and refill these features weekly or treat the water. Mosquito dunks are a safe, biological control utilizing Bti, a naturally occurring bacterium (Bti targeted usage is OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) approved. Mosquito dunks are harmless to mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and all insects except for certain, waterborne members of the fly family. See site linked above for more details. For more information on Bti and it’s usage, please click here to read this well-written article with an explanation of Bt strains from Colorado State University**

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