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by Carole Schwalm A japanese garden with a large white umbrella.

In Feng Shui water is a calming essence; water splashing soothes the senses. Water enhances prosperity. The water garden is a little habitat for birds and butterflies. For landscaping this type of garden creates a visual interest. In the corner of a balcony, a simple bowl of water becomes a Zen garden.

You can use any type of container for a garden as long as it securely holds water. And, speaking of the actual water itself: city water supplies often contain chlorine. Let water sit for a couple of days before you add to your plants. Second, if you have a softener, this is not the water to use in your garden.

A japanese ceramic home decoration sitting in a water garden. Siting? Most water plants need 5-8 hours of sunshine a day. A very large container (100 gallons or more) needs a bit more shade. Too much shade and many of the plants will not bloom and too much sun and the water over heats so aim for ‘just right.’ The best is an area with morning sun and afternoon shade. If you put your water garden on wheels and you can move it around wherever, whenever.

There are a few things to remember. For landscape decorating: the size of the container should be in proportion to the space. And a heads up if thinking about a balcony or wood deck: water weighs 8 lbs per gallon and this means that a 20 gallon container weighs in the neighborhood of about 200 pounds with everything included.

Your water garden is a self-contained ecosystem that needs clean-up in the spring and debris removed in a timely way. Of course, you have to tend to the plants, and add water, because it does evaporate.

A diagram showing a cutout of two plants in a container. You need to make a Plan B, for wintering the plants. They should be brought in the house and stored in water-filled tubs in a cool, dark area. Floating plants can ‘winter’ in an aquarium in a well-lit room. Sound like a lot of trouble? (According to University of Illinois Extension) consider the plants as annuals and buy new next season.

Plan your water garden now, but wait until the outdoor temperature reaches a steady 50° (with water temp reaching at least 70°).

Plant suggestions from Better Homes & Gardens: lotus, water lily, Japanese primrose, perennial hibiscus, taro, papyrus, Louisiana iris, pitcher plant, canna, swamp lily and sweet flag among others.

Share your feng shui experience or if you'd like more information.