5 Steps to Setting up a Water Garden

Setting up a water garden is fun and easy. Learn everything you need to know to get started and enjoy the benefits of a water garden.

5 Steps to Setting Up a Water Garden:

  1. Choose your location and find a vessel that holds water. Seal the holes in the bottom with hydraulic cement. Terra cotta or unglazed pottery will seep water and will need to be sealed with masterseal.  Full sun locations will be ideal for a water lily.
  2. Fill your vessel with water. Let the water sit for at least 24 hours to confirm that the vessel is holding water and allow the chlorine to dissipate.  Letting the chlorine evaporate allows the water to be habitable for your fish and snails.
  3. Add underwater clarifying plants such as tape grass and hornwort. Place tape grass into the bottom of the vessel and anchor hornwort to the bottom with a rock. This will help keep algae to a minimum and will help oxygenate the water for your fish.
  4. Add your feature plant. Choose a water lily if you have a full sun location (6-10 hours of full direct sun per day). Choose a lower light plant if you have 4 or less hours of sun per day. Some water lilies can tolerate a minimum of 4 hours of sun. Aim to have a seventy percent water surface coverage with your plants, leaving a thirty percent of the water’s surface open. This allows for some sun to filter into the underwater ecosystem, and gives you a window so that you may peer in and observe the underwater ecosystem of fish, snails and plants interacting. 
  5. Add fish and snails. After the water has been sitting for 24 hours, you may add your fish and snails. We recommend 3 platy fish and 2 ramshorn snails to begin. The fish will eat mosquito larva and algae, and the snails will help break down organic material.

Once your water garden is established, be sure to pause and smell your blooming water lily, put your hands in the water to prune leaves as needed, and observe the fish.  You do not need to feed the fish.  Fertilize the water lily once per month by pushing a lily tab into the dirt.  Our recommended monthly fertilizer can be found here.  Repotting the lily can help keep it happy, every 6-9 months or so. Watch our video on repotting here. Check our website for class listings here.

Come and check out our water garden package deal that has everything you need to start a blooming water garden for $211.

Water Garden Package Deal

Everything Included for $211.  Water garden package deal includes a ceramic pot, a water lily or equal value low light plants, a ‘starter kit’ that includes the underwater clarifying plants tape grass and hornwort, 3 platy fish, and 3 snails. Plus, for a limited time, receive a bottle of the water lily fertilizing tabs to keep your lily blooming year-round!


Water lilies are the perfect sunny spot water garden feature plant.

Underwater clarifying plants, fish and snails make up the underwater ecosystem of a water garden.