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Go ahead, build that water garden under trees

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Courtesy of Mary-Kate Mackey

(Read caption) A round pool gives an impression of coolness in the shade.

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“Never put a water feature under trees.” That’s a standard adage when deciding on placement of water around your home. And yet, after attending the 2010 Garden Writers Association Symposium in Dallas, I would say — go ahead, put the water in the shade. That’s what they do where it’s HOT.

During the symposium, when I came out of air-conditioned buildings, I experienced the Dallas heat like a physical barrier — a wall you could almost lean against. As one homeowner who was showing us her garden explained, “Most people feel sad when summer ends. Not here. We’re happy because fall brings cooler weather.”

So the Texas gardens chosen for the tours had plenty of trees. In fact, overarching trees seemed to be a sign of wealth — the way huge acres of manicured lawns might signify money in other more temperate parts of the country. Upscale neighborhoods contained whole forests of trees.

Couple that necessary shade with the sight and sound of water, and then temperatures in the gardens we visited became somewhat more bearable. The landscapes offered a feeling of respite from the physical buffeting of the super-heated air.

Maintenance counts

Of course, every water garden was well-maintained. With trees overhead, changing the leaf filters in the system becomes a priority, so that floating debris doesn't fall to the bottom.

But in any garden that has trees, a homeowner makes the commitment to keep leaves raked off pathways, composting the collected excess. It is simply an important part of gardening in a mature landscape.

Tips from Texas water gardens

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