A Stony Point landscaping firm recently received an inquiry from a local resident who wants to create an Asian landscape on her property. This is a sort of general request, because Asian landscapes include many different elements, from rock gardens to teak decks. If you think you are turning Japanese, you’ll want bonsai pavilions and gardens. And nothing screams “Asian!” like a koi pond. In fact, any type of water feature would be appropriate. They can have a huge impact on any garden in terms of sight and sound.
When you add golden-colored fish to a pond, you have a living element that animates the water and provides good fishing (as long as you restock). Koi demand clean, clear and healthy water. If you feed the fish with food that floats on the surface, you won’t get a build-up of detritus on the bottom of the pond. This is hard to clean, especially if the bottom is lined with pebbles. Leftover food will cloud the water and support algae growth. A good, low-maintenance way to keep the water clean is to throw a Barley Ball into the pond. This is slotted, plastic ball that contains barley that has been coated with special bacteria that eats algae. Toss a new one in every six months and you’ll reduce algae problems.
An important softscape element in an Asian landscape is a bonsai garden. These miniature potted plants are sculpted into pleasing shapes by skilled experts, but you can learn to do it yourself via books, videos and classes. You can let the plant grow naturally in a very small pot, or you can actively shape the plants into unnatural or animal shapes, like topiary. If you want to add tropical plants to your Asian garden, you will need to use potted plants that you can bring indoors when the weather cools. A perfect specimen for this purpose is the Pygmy Date Palm. It can thrive outside in warm weather and/or inside a light-filled room with high ceilings.
Other Asian elements include:
- Stone lanterns
- Round gates
- Asian statuary
- Ironic pictures of Chairman Mao
The homeowner who requested the Asian landscape ended up putting in a koi pond. It includes the following features:
- An automatic skimmer that cleans the surface of leaves, twigs, uneaten food and floating debris.
- A bottom drain to provide for mechanical filtering.
- A Vortex mechanical filter is used to keep the biological filter from clogging.
- A biological filter for removing nitrogenous wastes. It is a cross-flow filter with aeration.
- Ultraviolet lighting to clump algae for mechanical filtering.