GWAPA: Ponds and Container Water Gardening

July 1st, 2009

Sherry Mitchell hosted GWAPA’s June meeting last weekend, where she took us around her beautifully landscape garden, which included a huge reflecting pool/pond. Appropriately, Sherry then described her various methods for successfully settings up a pond or container water garden.

Pond, Reflecting Pool

As you can see in the picture below, Sherry plants all of her pond plant in containers. Instead of using the overpriced pond-baskets, she recommends using plastic under-the-bed boxes which can be had for a dollar or two from any Target or similar store. She has a large colony of goldfish in her pond, many which she has rescued from situations that were not befitting of living creatures.


To filter the few thousands of gallons of water in her pond, Sherry uses a homemade “Skippy Filter,” which she built using designs from Essentially, water flows in the bottom, and is lifted through a series of filter pads before returning to the pond. The benefit of this system is that it’s comparatively low-priced, reasonable in terms of the maintenance required, and does a great job.

Skippy Filter

In addition to the filtration, she also believes in doing 50% water changes each month. The water does not go to waste, however, as she has a drain on the filter which automatically waters plants in the rest of her garden, using the nutrient-rich water from the pond.


There were a number of lillies blooming while we were at her pond. She has a well-proven system for potting her plant. Instead of using a standard aquatic plant mix, she uses a combination of Osmocote fertilizer with top soil, kitty litter (for clay), and pea-gravel to keep the other stuff down.

Sealed Planter for Water Container

She’ll use the same methods in smaller containers for growing out plants, or when setting up a container water garden. Sherry mentioned how it’s often difficult to find large containers that don’t have drainage holes. She seals those holes using margarine lids and aquarium cement on either side of the hole. From there, the container should be water tight, and ready for use!

Frog on Lillipad

This was a wonderful meeting. In addition to the beautiful outdoor features that Sherry described to us in detail, she also had a nice fishroom inside. We had another large auction, and raffled off some pond and plant supplies. I’m going to have to apply many of the principles Sherry described to my raised brick pond when I get the chance.

4 Responses to “GWAPA: Ponds and Container Water Gardening”

  1. Phillip Says:

    What a great pond. I do envy being able to grow those beautiful tropical lilies.

  2. Bethany (yarnorgy) Says:

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful pics! Love the Skippy filter! I just learned about them recently and was happy to see it endorsed. Do you know what type of pump she uses?

  3. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comments. Bethany, I don’t know what type of pump she uses, but it pumps 2900G/h. Much more info on her garden and pond here:

  4. Raised Brick Pond: Summer of the Flower-- Guitarfish Says:

    […] hearing Sherry’s talk about her pond at the last GWAPA meeting, I decided it was time to post an update about how my raised brick pond is progressing this summer. […]