Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Bathtub Koi Pond
A fellow blogger, Barbara, of Clay Garden remarked about my koi pond in a previous post. When we moved here there was an old bathtub which was used for a cattle watering trough. It was a huge, cast iron, claw foot tub, minus the feet. We wanted to dispose of it but it was too heavy to move very far even with a tractor. So we tried to think of how we could camoflauge the tub. We installed a bathtub koi pond with just the cost of a few fish, plants, some materials we had on hand, and some hard work.
When we made our parking area, I had an idea to make a turn around in the middle and thought about making a bathtub koi pond. Gary placed the bathtub on top of the ground with the tractor. We connected a PVC pipe to the bottom of the drain. We put the PVC pipe in in case we ever wanted to drain the tub. Then Gary piled some nice compost enriched soil all around the bathtub about two feet wide, right up to the top of the bathtub. We placed rocks we gathered on our property riprap fashion, around the soil to prevent erosion.
I planted shrubs on the east and west side of the tub to shade the water part of the day. I planted bottlebrush, cotoneaster parney and red yucca. If I had it to do over again I wouldn't use the bottle brush because the flowers drop in the pond and I have to keep cleaning the flowers out the pond. I put a rubber stopper in the bathtub drain and filled the tub full of water. I had some old ceramic molds and put them in the bathtub and placed water plants in pots on top of them. The water plants are fiber optic grass, pickerel rush, and penny wort. If a pond has more than 6 hours of sunlight a day, algae grows more easily. We let the tub "age" for about a month.
I purchased four very inexpensive koi and placed them in the pond. During the hottest part of summer the water in the tub stays cool. The soil surrounding the tub insulates it and the depth of the water helps keep it cool too. The plants put oxygen in the water and help to keep it clean. During the summer I regularly refill the water which evaporates. I found the copper float in our yard and placed it on a piece of rusty rebar as an ornamental sculpture. The image above was taken two summers ago. Notice the copper float is above the level of the shrubs. Now the shrubs are much taller than the float.
The koi were one inch long when I brought them home four years ago. One fish died the first week and a month later I found one fish skeleton on the ground. The other two fish, one solid orange and one orange and white, are now eight inches long and their bodies are getting nice and plump. They actually look like koi now instead of gold fish. When visitors come to my garden, they don't even notice the pond unless I point it out to them. A pond really attracts all kinds of wildlife to the garden. The first week I put the water in the pond, I saw water bugs in the pond and noticed birds and lizards visiting the pond to get a drink. One time I even saw two very large toads beside the pond. If you've ever thought of having a koi pond I recommend a bathtub koi pond.
Gaillardia 'Torchlight' or Blanket Flower is blooming in front of my studio right now. It's a member of the sunflower family and is drought tolerant. Blanket flower refers to the resemblance of brightly patterned Native American woven blankets. I know I promised a post on how I plan on hanging my wall panels. I finally got some more epoxy so I'll work on that post tomorrow.