Aqua Design Amano (ADA) is, in my opinion, the leader in aquascaping equipment. They are focused on making it easy for a beginner to buy their products and set up a beautiful nature aquarium. To that end, they recently put up a page on Starting from Zero.
Going through the steps they depict, I saw a “pro tip” I always use but don’t see many others using. I’m very glad ADA is showing it as something everyone should do. However, the reason they recommend it is completely different than mine. I didn’t think of using it like they do but I guess it makes sense.
Above is step 6 in the ADA Starting from Zero recommendation. Notice how they recommend burying bamboo sticks in the layout prior to position the larger stem plants. The reason they do this is so that you can rest the long stem plants on the sticks and keep them upright. This facilitates the planting.
Of course, they are absolutely right! I never thought about that. I always had to lay the stem plants one way, plant, then lay them another way, plant, and so on. Resting the stems onto this bamboo framework would eliminate my need to constantly lay them one way or another.
I’ve seen some people who raise the water level up to the midway point so that the stem plants float and make it easier to plant. I don’t like doing this because adding water and planting can result in substrate coming up, floating and causing a mess. It’s happened to me. ADA’s way, I think, is better.
Now, I mentioned I used the bamboo sticks (plastic straws in my case) too but not for building a framework to lay plants on. I use the sticks to design the layout and make sure the focal point is where I want, triangles are correctly positioned, etc. How? Well, I position the straws using the rule of thirds to divide the layout correctly. Then I use tie wraps to connect diagonal straws to create triangles. Only then do I start planting stem plants or plants that will be focal points. Only then do I position hardscape that will anchor the layout.
Thanks for the different perspective, ADA! I think my planting will be easier in future aquascapes.