Ginny Allen started digging koi ponds simply because she enjoyed watching the multi-hued fish.
"I like gardening and wanted a pond. They are pretty," she said.
That was more than 10 years ago.
Allen has now two koi ponds in the back yard of her Westchester Drive home that she and her ex-husband built together when they were members of the now-disbanded Augusta Koi Club.
Allen presented a program on koi ponds at the monthly meeting of her garden club - the Cherokee Rose Garden Club - April 1 at her home, where members could hear about water gardens then view them on-site.
Allen's ponds are full of colorful koi up to a foot long and lush foliage of umbrella palms, water lilies, lotuses, water hyacinths and a variety of reeds and irises.
"We revised things several times so the ponds have had different looks," Allen said. "But there was a lot of fun and digging."
After more than a decade of raising koi, Allen said it is more complicated than just digging a hole and adding plants and fish.
Some of Allen tips include:
Buy a book on koi ponds before making one.
Consider the location and size of the pond. Sunny spots will cause more algae and more shady locations will bring more leaves, blossoms, acorns and other items to clean out of the pond. Be sure to chose a site where water can easily be drained off the pond and runoff from the yard does not enter the pond.
Pre-fabricated forms can be bought or homeowners can draw out the shape of the pool they want with a hose or marking chalk before using a pond liner or concrete. Both can be patched.
When choosing the depth of the pond the growing depth of the plants to be added should be considered. Many are made with a plant shelf around the edges. "Making your pond at least 3 feet deep helps save your fish from herons and hawks," Allen said. "In the shallower ponds, they disappear." Allen puts potted plants on foot stools or crates to give her koi a place to hide from predators. She also has a false alligator, herons' natural enemy, near the pond to help keep them away.
All ponds need circulating water. A simple pump will do.
A filter is needed whether it is mechanical (a pump), chemical (carbon or zeolite) or biological (a container filled with a media that will allow beneficial bacteria to colonize and help remove or neutralize waste).
Add plants to the pond first and let the water circulate for about a week before adding fish. Allen recommends starting with 10-cent gold fish to be sure the system is working.
Water lilies are beautiful water garden plants and koi are the most coveted fish for them, but watch out. Koi like to knock over pots, uproot and eat lilies.
"Koi ponds are a lot of fun," Allen said. "They have not been work, but they do take some maintenance."
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