When you sit next to a babbling creek, listening to the sound of running water, you feel serene. When you lounge next to a still lake or sprawl out on the beach, you feel relaxed. Water generates a sense of calmness like nothing else on earth.
Homeowners often want to harness this calm by creating a soothing water garden in their backyard. Our high altitude desert region makes creating a water garden challenging because of its temperature extremes, stormy winters, and dry summers. Despite Utah’s dry weather, water restrictions, and high altitude, it’s still possible to create a dream water garden in your backyard. You just have to be willing to make some adjustments.
In this blog, we outline great water gardens ideas for Utah resident. We'll also highlight the considerations for maintaining these serene spaces in our high desert’s climate. Read on to learn more.
Consider Your Yard’s Orientation and Grade
Many homes along the Wasatch Front have naturally sloping yards. This slope, or grade, offers an excellent opportunity for a backyard stream or waterfall. Use rocks and boulders from your yard or neighborhood to create a more natural look for your backyard stream. Though your local landscaper won’t need to excavate to build this tiny waterfall, he or she can help you pick out a filtration system to keep the stream replenished.
If you’re interested in planting flowers or ornamental grasses around your water feature, chose the part of your yard that sees the most consistent sunlight. For example, your backyard might be north-facing. Sunlight hits your front and side yards throughout the day, while your backyard stays cool. Though this is a great place to escape the blistering summer heat, it’s not a great place for plant growth. Instead, consider putting your water garden in your side or front yard so that you can give your plants enough sun to grow.
What if you don’t have much of a yard? Ground-level decks and patios also provide great spaces for small water gardens.
Choose Native Plants
Yellow pond lilies, called Nuphar polysepalum, work best in local water gardens. As the Beehive State’s only native water lily, these plants have adapted to our harsh winters. The Uinta Mountains’ high-altitude ponds host huge numbers of these gorgeous yellow flowers. If you’re interested in adding yellow pond lilies, make sure your landscaper excavates a pond at least 18 to 24 inches deep. This depth helps your Nuphar polysepalum endure the cold winter.
Come springtime, pond lilies create an eye-popping aesthetic for you and your neighbors to enjoy. They also offer exceptional benefits to your water garden’s micro-ecosystem. Lilies aerate your pond and prevent algae overgrowth. They generate shade for any fish you might add to your pond, protecting them from predators.
Minimize Water Use
Utah is the second-driest state in the country. Water can be scarce, especially during hot, summer months. You can minimize your water garden’s cost and its environmental impact by choosing smaller, deeper water features.
Static features like reflection pools and ponds use substantially less water than waterfalls. These features also give you the chance to get creative. For example, some homeowners use metal stock tanks, old whiskey barrels, or planters to create small pools in their yard.
If you do choose a running water feature, keep the water trickling lightly and slowly. It will keep your energy and water bills lower and reduce evaporation. For larger ponds, install preformed features and surround them with rocks and plants.
Water gardens can encourage relaxation and reflection. If you follow these tips, you too can have a serene space in your yard. Contact a local Utah County landscaping company to consider your yard space and design a water garden that is well-suited to your property.