Jan. 1 2007 12:00 AM

ADD THE SOUND AND BEAUTY OF A WATER GARDEN TO YOUR FRONT PORCH by creating your own mini water feature. They're easy to do and the combination of containers, plants and fountainheads are truly endless. Try placing them as accents in other parts of the garden, such as in the middle of a perennial bed or adjacent to your primary water feature for a truly spectacular display of color and foliage.

One of my favorite aspects of container gardening is the creativity that can go into any one or multiple container gardens. The great thing about this is that you can use what's made available to you by various manufacturers or you can simply utilize anything that will hold water lying around the house. I've seen everything from antique bathtubs and coke cans to something a little bit more conventional, like pots.

Another great way that I've seen people create a container garden is by implementing a certain theme, using paint, stickers, lawn ornaments or whatever you can think of. These themes can range anywhere from your favorite vacation spot to your favorite cartoons, or my favorite . . . sports!

A key to container gardening, however, is what I call zoning. This is a technique that can be used to help prevent your garden from having a cluttered look or improve your garden's health. As with any pond that I build, I first draw a rough sketch, splitting key parts of the pond into different zones so that its ability to function properly as an ecosystem is maintained. The same applies to container gardening. I'll draw a picture of what piece I'll be using and how it works with its surroundings by splitting the drawing into segments. This is essential inside the container if you plan on incorporating fish and aquatic plants into your design.

A key to maintaining health for plants and animals within your container is to allow water to flow freely, thus promoting an adequate oxygen supply to all that live inside.So, as you can tell, the possibilities are endless when it comes to designing and enjoying your container garden. It really is exciting to watch one mature over the course of a season . . . and with a little time taken away from mowing the lawn, who can really complain?