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Creating a Pond

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Since we were able to extend our garden earlier in the year I have been really looking forward to creating a pond.  Having a pond in your garden is one of the best things you can do to increase the biodiversity in your garden by encouraging wildlife.  All animals need water to sustain life, and by creating a pond you won’t only attract frogs.  Birds, for instance, use extra energy when feeding if they have to travel elsewhere to drink.  Our bird feeder is near the pond, and within a few days of filling our pond I was delighted to see about 40 sparrows drinking and bathing in the shallow end!

As for the aforementioned frogs, I will probably have to wait until next year to see them now.  They do travel overland so they will probably find their way here on their own and I’m sure I won’t be able to contain my excitement when they arrive.  At the moment the pond is far too ‘new’ to have much pond life in it; we filled it from the tap so we could get the liner in the correct place and pond life doesn’t appreciate chlorine!  I also need several more plants but I will get to that later…

 

 

I started digging the pond months ago.  At first it was just a little depression in the ground (above left), but I kept going at it.  To be honest, if my husband Steve had said ‘I’ll dig that for you’ in the beginning I would have probably let him, but he wisely stood back and let me get stuck in, knowing the satisfaction I would gain from doing it myself.

Little by little the pond grew and I added ‘shelving’ as I went along until I was happy with the final size (above right).  Ideally a widlife pond should be about 2-3 foot (1m) deep in the deepest part to allow animals to overwinter successfully.  I say the deeper the better.  I would also like to add that I am not going to add ornamental fish to this pond – it is purely for wildlife as pond keeping for fish is a separate subject altogether.

 

Creating a pond for wildlife

Creating a pond for wildlife

 

Steve helped me on the last push to finish it.  He dug out old tree roots, landscaped the area behind the pond and added another internal shelf around the back of the pond (above).  I’m no feminist – sometimes you just need a man!

Before you lay a pondliner you need to minimise the amount of sharp objects in the pond site and you also need to put an underlay down to protect the liner from said sharp objects.  Some people use a sand and cement ‘bisque’ or you can buy proper pond liner underlay, but Steve had the genius idea of using our scraggy old living room carpet.  Neither of us liked it so it is now buried in perpetuity where no one can see it!  He cut it into rough shapes with a Stanley knife and laid it in the hole like a jigsaw (below).

 

 

Only Kizzy seemed to like the old carpet!

Only Kizzy seemed to like the old carpet!

 

You can buy pondliner from lots of different sources.  I bought mine from eBay and followed the directions on the seller’s page for the size I required.  I ended up with way too much, but to be honest it wasn’t a bad thing as we doubled it up so it’s even less likely to spring a leak now.

We maneouvered it into position and carefully pushed it into the corners at the very bottom of the pond.  You can use a couple of rocks to hold it in the right place if you wish.  We filled the liner only halfway and then started to place large sandstone slabs that we had lying around the garden around the edge (below).

 

 

 

While one edge was being held down by the sandstone slabs we let the pond fill completely.  I was so excited that I watched it fill up, which is much better than watching paint dry…..honest.  We then left it overnight to settle down.

The next night we continued placing sandstone slabs and most importantly, we made a sloping ‘beach’ using pebbles which will help any animal unfortunate enough to fall in the pond to escape with only a small dent in their dignity (below).  It also creates a nice shallow place for birds and the like to drink and bathe in and one day maybe tadpoles will shelter among the rocks…

 

 

 

The area around the pond is as important as the pond itself.  In one area the soil comes right to the edge and makes a damp boggy area where I have planted native Caltha palustris or ‘marsh marigold’ and double Cardamine pratensis or ‘cuckoo flower’.  The planting is only in its initial stages at the moment and I plan to add other bog-lovers in the future such as Lynchnis flos-cuculi or ‘ragged robin’ which is native and very easy to grow from seed.

 

 

 

 

For the pond itself I bought some water hyacinth or Eichhornia crassipes which isn’t hardy but was too beautiful to resist.  Despite the fact that it is not a nuisance in the UK as it is unable to withstand our cold winters, the EU have banned this little gem from being sold here in 2018 because it is invasive in warmer European climes.  I’m going to try and overwinter mine indoors.  I also bought a Nuphar luteum or ‘brandy bottle’ waterlily which is native to the UK, but may eventually prove too vigorous.

I bought Mentha aquatica (‘water mint’) and a water lily called ‘Colorado’ from Lincolnshire Pond Plants.  Although they visit the Harrogate Flower Shows I actaully bought from them through eBay.  I was really pleased that they were able to send water lily cuttings through the post for around £5.00, rather than having to spend about £20 on a lily already planted.

Many pond plants prefer to be planted at different depths which is why I created shelving in the pond.  The water lily will eventually go in the deepest part of the pond whilst ‘marginals’ like water mint prefer shallower areas but provide excellent cover and breeding sites for insects.  Ideally I’m aiming for about 65% surface coverage of floating pond plants.  I haven’t yet decided which plants I’m going to use as submerged oxygenators but they are just as important as the plants you can see.

When I visited Harrogate Autumn Flower Show this year I bought Typha minima (mini bulrush), Veronica beccabunga (brooklime), and Pontedaria cordata (blue pickerel weed), all from the Lincolnshire Pond Plants stand.

My wish list for next year includes Aponogeton distachyos (water hawthorn) and Myosotis scorpioides (water forget me not).  Sounds like I might need to build a pond extenstion at this rate!

At the back of the pond I’ve added upturned terracotta pots which have been damaged but will provide perfect shelter for any small creature which requires it.  I’m going to fill them with hay.  I’m also building a log pile under a shrub which will become an excellent habitat for insects and even toads if I’m lucky.  Toads spend a lot of time out of water but require damp shaded places to live.

I have to say I didn’t make a detailed plan of what I was going to plant around the pond, apart from the marsh marigold.  I’ve added Ajuga reptans ‘Burguny Glow’ (bugle) as ground cover near the water’s edge.  It’s a particularly pretty cultivar with variegated leaves.  I planted 3 Lobelia x speciosa which also enjoy damp conditions, some Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ given to me by a friend which will grow anywhere and some Houttuynia cordata which also likes damp feet.  Although the Crocosmia can be a nuisance they are very easy to pull up if they go a bit wild.  I’ve added several Campanula porschkyana on the bank at the back of the pond which I hope will create a ‘waterfall’ of flowers.  The varieties are ‘Hirsh Blue’, ‘Lisduggan Variety’ and ‘alba’.

At the very back I planted three different varities of mint.  Maybe I will come to regret that decision as they are known to ‘run’, but I need the space filled quickly and the bees love the flowers.  There are a few other plants I added simply because I had them lying around!  These included violas, sweet rocket, a Heuchera and an Erysimum.  I can’t wait until the plants grow and it takes on a more natural look.  I’ll let you know when the first frog arrives!

For now, I am enjoying some of the more familar ‘wildlife’ who like to come for a drink at the watering hole….

 

Kizzy much prefers pond water to tap water!

Kizzy much prefers pond water to tap water!

 

Kelly.

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