Written by Rachel Arieff
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Aquascapes are water gardens that you can build, or have built, for your yard. Aquascapes are one of today's most popular landscaping options due to their novelty, soothing nature, environmental friendliness, and of course, their sheer beauty. Aquascapes come in many varieties to accommodate almost any logistical criteria or taste. Whether your yard is tiny or spacious, whether you desire many decorative effects or just a simple pond, you can find an appropriate water garden to meet your needs.

For example, water gardens can be anything from a sprawling, multilevel complex of ponds and waterfalls to a single, minimalistic pond with a few lilies floating atop it. Your aquascape can be built to bedazzle, with exotic flowers and plants, sculptures, quartz rocks, elegant sitting benches for observers, and fancy underwater and surface lighting. However, no matter how simple or extravagant your aquascape, in order for it to have a long and problem-free life, you must understand how it works ... and know how to properly maintain it.

What Comprises an Aquascape

An aquascape is not just a bunch of water and some rocks, but rather a complete and well-functioning ecosystem. It includes not just water and rocks, but also oxygen, bacteria, algae, plant life, insects--even fish and turtles, if so desired. However, whether you want wildlife in your aquascape or not, be advised that animals of some variety--whether they be birds, frogs, salamanders, or snakes--will be sharing it at some time or another.

This is all part of the magic of the aquascape, which, in its inviting nature, will occasionally create situations beyond our control. As long as these are not harmful to the aquascape itself, it's best to relax and enjoy these new discoveries. After all, the relaxing and soothing nature of water gardens is one of their main attractions. However, problems can sometimes surface with predators attacking the fish or plant life of the aquascape, and products are available to discourage them.

Water Garden Installation

Though some people prefer to contract a professional service to install their water gardens, many people choose to work with do-it-yourself kits. For one, it's cheaper to build an aquascape yourself than to hire an installation team. Another reason is that, for many people, installing the water garden is a large part of the fun.

However, many people without an understanding of aquascapes underestimate what goes into creating them. Some of these people make the mistake of trying to build their own water gardens without knowledge of liners, plumbing, aeration, or bacteria and algae control. These people often pay the price for their ignorance, often ending up with a big, muddy mess in their yard, and a lot of frustration.

The Well-Prepared Water Gardener

The best way to avoid this nightmare, of course, is to inform yourself as much as possible about water ponds before starting on your own. Fortunately, this is not difficult to do and, again, is a pleasurable part of the adventure of creating your own aquascape. Take advantage of the many good books and videos on the subject. Sometimes you can find these materials in your local library; if not, they can be purchased in larger bookstores, home and garden centers, or on the World Wide Web.

Another option is to take a class or two in water garden creation. As aquascape popularity grows, more and more classes are being offered through garden centers, neighborhood organizations, and community college adult education programs. These courses are usually inexpensive and sometimes even free. On the other hand, learning in an interactive setting, where you can pose your questions to a knowledgeable teacher, can give you an excellent base of information and confidence. Armed with these tools, you'll probably be ready to build an excellent water garden.

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