Project: Wildlife or nature pond

I’ve wanted to do this for years. A small nature pond for all sorts of bugs, plants and amphibians, all of which will help me out around the garden in eating nasties and attracting ‘life’. The transformation a pond can make to your garden can be remarkable. It becomes a focal point, a talking point and a small oasis in your little patch of Earth. It acts as a catalyst in attracting life and becomes integral to the make up of your garden, making it not just some mud and flowers, but something with a heartbeat.

Location

Pretty easy to find a good spot right? Anywhere will do. The guides tell me I should have somewhere with good sunlight and not under a tree. I looked about and found some places that fit the bill and all got vetoed; this, as you might imagine, was quite the problem. More reading gave more information as you would expect – the tree issue was only that the leaves fall off into the pond and rot down causing nutrient build up in the pond which can cause a green goo and is generally not wanted as a pond. Scooping off the leaves will solve that or an annual cleanout of goo (very good for compost) will also suit. Sunlight is a must. That said, it doesn’t have to be constant and this would probably be a bad thing in a small pond anyway as it will overheat and evaporate too quickly.2014-01-16 10.50.24 (Small).jpg

My final site option brought me back to my stone circle. This is nothing more than a crazy paving circle that was in the garden when I moved here. Since then, every year, I have ummed and ahhed over whether to remove it; I don’t know why but I like it. Well, liked it now I suppose as it’s gone. The sandstone pieces that made up the circle were cleaned off and stacked out the way so I could use them to top the edge when finishing the pond.

Stuff

For a pond you need stuff – a prefab pond (boo) or a pondliner (yay!) for starters, but also sand to line and the digging tools obviously. The pondliner looks massive when you unfold it but it soon disappears down the hole.

Get digging

I watched a couple of youtube videos and read a few guides on making the pond as although I had a good idea, I wanted to check, and there were a couple of good tips to be had. Probably the best one being to dig in shelves – shallowest top shelf first to give overall size, then lower one etc. This makes the earth remain compacted and therefore more stable for the finished pond.

This was always going to be a small nature pond so only has one shelf and a deep part. The deep section is created using a half old water butt that was in the garden when I moved in and I just knew would come in handy one day! Having dug everything out which was quite the job (I also found a blue sort of old cementy/claggy stuff, no idea what that was), removed the stones and packed with a lining of sand, the pond liner was finally placed in the hole.

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Fill ‘er up

The water butts were full so turning on the taps and filling was simple enough and the liner pulled and folded as the water filled up. It was cold, oh so very cold!

After that settled, I placed the stones around the edge then moved them about. I’m still not convinced they’ll stay in place but they’re fine for now. Liner trimmed (always buy a bigger liner as a few quid more makes everything easier to fit), a few stones added for a way for ‘things’ to get in /out and a solar powered pump added. These are utter shite so don’t be tempted! A pump or water feature isn’t required in a nature pond anyway and can in fact have a detrimental effect so not that bad news for me.

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Got a few marginals and the neighbours let me have a small clump of oxygenators and a bucket of their pond sludge to kick start everything.

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Plants

Every pond needs plants. Some to use up nutrients and provide perches for insects, some to oxygenate and some to provide surface cover.

My marginals – on the left I think is Cyperus alternifolius and the stripy grassy thing a form of zebra rush. There’s also some greater spearwort or water buttercup, and oxygenating elodea crispa and water milfoil in the deepest part.

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Some time later…

I was also given a lily. Weighted down and lobbed into the deepest part, the leaves rose like something from the deep (which it was) and then a bloom appeared!

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Verdict

Overall I’m chuffed. An initial influx of mosquitoes disappeared after a flurry of goldfinch and bluetit aerial attacks and they haven’t come back. Damsel flies have appeared along with all sorts of other life in the pond itself. No frogs yet but I’ll wait to next spring to see what occurs… Ribbet.

 

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