Sharon Hull, This 7 days in the Yard

When Shantanu Phukan acquired his house near downtown Santa Cruz numerous years in the past, he concentrated his gardening endeavours on his entrance lawn due to the fact the area behind the residence experienced so numerous seemingly insurmountable complications.

Although it was surrounded by a board fence, aggressive bamboo intruding from an adjacent property, sound from nearby active streets and firms, backing up to a general public alley that felt unsafe, and sights of unsightly industrial buildings all made him sense uninspired to locate solutions to the drawbacks. Considering the fact that he experienced planted the entrance backyard garden intensively with alpine vegetation between boulders that remaining no area for anything at all further, a drinking water backyard garden was the very last point Phukan experienced planned.

Then throughout a philosophical conversation with a young worker of a local backyard center about the nature of gardens, a probability remark introduced Phukan up short: “It’s not definitely a back garden except there is some drinking water in it” claimed the employee. Aha! Inspiration struck. But where could a drinking water element potentially in good shape, in an now tightly packed area? Phukan understood that it was time to choose a harder appear at his eyesore of a backyard with the intent of developing a back garden there with water as a central feature.

At first, the plan of an real pond appeared out of access. In spite of 21 a long time of gardening practical experience, he initially believed he “was not great more than enough to style and build a pond.” But immediately after poring for hours about photos of gardens with ponds, consulting with these who have made them, even now a lot more research, and tossing about the possibilities with his fantastic close friend and fellow plant enthusiast Ray Dyer, he was nearer to a decision about how to progress and realized that he could without a doubt pull off what experienced seemed unreachable.

A layout took shape in his imagination and a website obvious from the home windows of the dwelling was preferred. However, the real labor seemed complicated. The catalyst at last happened in July 2020, when one more younger garden center staff who was an enthusiastic pond builder provided to do substantially of the guide labor for a honest price and to consult on the logistics this kind of as checking pH. At past the operate of creating a new garden with a pond as its keystone element could start off. In the organizing approach, it was made a decision to include a waterfall fueled by a pump that would shift and oxygenate the water, allowing for fish and hydric crops to thrive and insuring that mosquitos would not breed in the pond.

Immediately after laying out the outlines, the soil was excavated, then mounded up behind the crater to generate the top desired for falling water. A “shelf” was integrated around the edges of the pond for crops that want frequently moist soil but can’t be completely submerged, and to produce a a lot more all-natural edge. A package was chosen that included a liner, a protective underlayment, an electrical pump, tubing, an outdoor-rated extension wire and a filtration technique. Mainly because Phukan continuously does fight with gophers in his entrance garden (he noted that “gardening in suspense is not fun”), mesh gopher wire was laid to start with to insure that gophers could not chew a leak in the liner, followed by the underlayment, the liner, and by the other components of the kit.

The addition of Sonoma fieldstone of numerous sizes and shapes formed the margins of the pool, hid the edges of the liner and created the composition of the waterfall. Phukan is experienced and talented at incorporating stone in a naturalistic way in the landscape, so he in particular relished that procedure, and finds himself nevertheless altering and including stones as he perfects the pool and encompassing garden.

Plant collection was equally important and a welcome challenge to be certain the pool and the rest of the backyard garden look to have been developed by natural forces. Because attracting and supporting wildlife, in particular birds, was of principal value, lots of of the plant decisions are California natives but they are interspersed with content from other Mediterranean climates that give a broader range of shade, texture and sort, with a thing blooming in all months. Far more crops proceed to be extra as the layout is tweaked and selection content is obtained. Especially noteworthy is the suave use of mat-forming species that creep among the the stones, hunting as while character herself did the planting. Phukan and Dyer are the two smitten with insectivorous crops that occur naturally all-around ponds so the plantings incorporate a number of especially selection species of Sarracenia.

Now a balanced pond ecosystem would seem to be self-sustaining. Smaller fish are thriving, with 1 particularly charming species (White Cloud Minnows) creating very small offspring. Birds come regularly to bathtub and drink, and look in particular captivated to the flat stones at the major of the waterfall, splashing enthusiastically. On the lookout ideal at house among the boulders, the plants have taken root, crammed out and molded on their own to the surrounding difficult surfaces. Numerous are now blooming, generating both delicate and vivid hues that incorporate desire and entice the eye.

Snug out of doors seating is arranged so that observers can delight in the sight and sounds of the transferring drinking water, the a lot of flowers that entice butterflies and bees, the bathing birds, the textures offered by both of those delicate and hard surfaces. The website problems have been minimized: the intruding bamboo has been taken off, trees and shrubs display the ugly sights and make a private globe, and the relaxing appears of the waterfall emphasis the interest inside of the garden and mask the noises from exterior. What in the beginning seemed not possible has turn out to be a truth, a backyard garden pool that however it is on the edge of a bustling downtown, is now a haven for wildlife and human beings, where a perception of protection and peace prevails.

On a connected be aware, I received the letter down below after final Friday’s column about drinking water in the garden.  Thank you, Dr. Dover, vacation medication expert, for the reminder about the dangers of standing drinking water. In addition to guaranteeing that nothing at all in our gardens provides a web page for mosquito breeding, I recommend contacting the free of charge local means, the Mosquito and Vector Control Division of the Ag Dept for suggestions and a provide of mosquito fish. In Monterey County, go to  In Santa Cruz County, go to

Dear Ms. Hull:

I had looked for a caution in your Thursday short article about standing water (chook baths, flower pots, ponds, etcetera.) staying breeding web sites for mosquitoes that can have a quantity of infectious disorders.

Ex. dengue, zika, equine encephalitis, and primarily West Nile virus – a unique issue for the elderly. Not frequent listed here but the probable constantly exists.

Remember to look at addressing management or abatement measures in a foreseeable future posting.

Regards, Arthur S. Dover, MD, DTMH,,

Garden strategies are offered courtesy of horticulturist Sharon Hull of the San Lorenzo Garden Center. Contact her at 831-423-0223.