There's a cliche about making lemonade from a bad situation, and it's perfectly apt for what was a smelly, swampy section of Lisa and Craig Treadaway's Raleigh yard. They transformed the problem spot into a stunning 3,000-square-foot pond.
The water feature started as a sediment pond to catch runoff from neighboring properties. It was perfectly functional but completely unattractive. It was also a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
The Treadaways wanted their new pond to feature lots of stone, so they brought in rocks for the edges, a waterfall, and even a scenic footbridge.
Keeping the water moving addresses the mosquito problem. They use a recirculating pump that pushes water over a small waterfall.
A variety of critters, from dragonflies to frogs and fish, also reduce the mosquito population.
Test Garden Tip: Make sure your water feature attracts insect-eating wildlife by limiting the use of pesticides, growing a wide array of nectar plants, and planting shrubs or trees to provide habitat.
Water cascading off the surface of a rock or over a small waterfall creates the babble of trickling water. The Treadaways discovered that letting the water fall over different surfaces and at varying heights created subtle differences in sound.
The couple has a wonderful collection of hardy water lilies. These plants thrive in most sunny water gardens and grow larger and showier each year. Unlike their tropical cousins, they safely overwinter outdoors.
There's a wonderful range of water lily varieties to choose from. Some, like 'Attorney Elrod', shown here, stay relatively small (this one grows 3-5 feet wide). It's one of the Treadaways' favorites. Large varieties grow 8 feet wide or more.
Algae thrived in the Treadaway's old pond. To keep the pest from disfiguring their new water feature, they shaded the water surface with foliage, including water lilies.
The Treadaways surrounded the 3-foot-deep pond with a sloping wall of stone. This makes it easy for turtles and other wildlife to access the pond.
'Pink Sparkle' is another favorite water lily thanks to its reliable show of fragrant pink flowers. The purple-mottled leaves are a wonderful accent to the blooms.
The Treadaways looked beyond water lilies for adding color and texture to the their pond. Lotuses provide height, for example, and variegated water iris brings in a different texture.
Lotuses, such as 'Mrs. Perry D. Slocum', shown here, bring an intricate beauty to the pond. This magnificent variety has 12-inch-wide flowers in a wonderful blend of yellow and pink. The large leaves, which can reach 2 feet across, lend the pond a tropical feel.
Marginal plants thrive along the shallow edges of the pond and include types such as this interesting horsetail. Though it produces no blooms, it offers an intriguing texture reminiscent of bamboo.
Note: Horsetail can be invasive; it's best to plant it in a container.
Elephant's ears add a lush look to the pond. Selections such as 'Red Stem Rhubarb', shown here, provide a touch of color with burgundy-red veins and stems. Or look for varieties such as 'Black Magic' that offer purple-black foliage.
After transforming the old pond into a work of art, the Treadaways installed a flagstone patio with built-in fire pit. It's become their favorite place to relax after a long day.