Small pond/water garden in desert on the cheap? (lots of questions)
I live in Arizona. I just bought a new condo. It has a little yard (maybe 5 ftx20 ft? I'm bad at estimating distances).
I was thinking it might be nice to have a (very) small pond or water garden in one corner.
But I need advice. Especially since I'm... extremely not-wealthy.
A friend's dad might be able to score me a pre-formed pond liner of some sort, and obviously I can dig the hole myself (well, with some work, we do have infamously hard dirt 'round here). And I might be able to talk my dad into making a fake-rock waterfall for me for Christmas or something. And I have some ideas and sources for cheap plants and fish (a spare water lily from a friend's pond, taro roots from the grocery store, feeder goldfish/guppies...)
But what else do I absolutely need, for a (probably) ~3'-round pond or so, if I want to have plants and fish in it? What would make it a *lot* easier to work with, or save money in the long run? Where/how can I get these things as cheaply as practical? Any other tips?
I wanted part of the pond to be a plant bed, filled with gravel/perlite/some other dirt substitute, so I could grow plants that like "wet feet", but aren't actually fully-fledged water plants. I'd partition it off from the main pond with something non-water-tight that won't let the actual dirtlike substance through, but 1. would that work? 2. what should I use for the dirtlike substance? 3. what should I use to keep the rest of the pond from being filled with dirtlike substance?
Also, anyone have experience with a pond/water garden in Arizona or a similar climate? Any tips or advice there?