The Basics of Water Gardens
Water in the garden, whether it's a fountain, waterfall or a fully planted pond, helps create a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere. A well-designed and well-planted water garden gives you the feeling of walking out to your own private backyard oasis.
The first step is to build a bed for your new plants. You can create a water garden in a standard pond with a liner or build a smaller version in a container or water feature. Anyway you build it though, you'll line the bottom with either soil or gravel.
Important: If you choose to use soil to hold your plants in place, you'll need a heavy clay soil. Materials like peat, manure and vermiculite in the soil will just float to the top and create a mess.
Here's a trick to avoid a major mud puddle: lay a plastic tarp down on top of the soil before you fill it with water. When it's full, slide the plastic tarp out and the soil won't be as disturbed as it would be if you let the hose run right on top of it.
Gravel at the bottom of the pond will give you a much cleaner look than soil. It will still hold plants in place too because submerged plants don't need to root in soil. They will use the gravel as an anchor to keep them in place under water.
If the water you use is about the same temperature as the air (not too chilly) you can plant in your new pond right away.