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A garden pond can be a beautiful ornamental feature, adding interest and variety to your garden, and providing a relaxing place to enjoy a drink in summertime. It can also be a haven for wildlife, which is more important than ever, as natural habitats for insects, birds, and aquatic creatures are vanishing at a faster rate than ever before.
If you are considering adding a pond to your garden, there are plenty of options, even if you have a modest amount of space. Here are some points to consider when designing your new pond.
Where will you put your pond?
Choosing the right spot for your pond is of utmost importance because it will affect how well the wildlife and pond plants will thrive. This is essential to maintain a healthy ecosystem, and prevent the water from becoming stagnant and toxic. The best position is a place which is in sunlight for part of the day, and in shade for a few hours too.
Try and avoid putting the pond at the bottom of a sloping garden, because run off from rainwater will wash too many nutrients into the pond, causing the natural ecosystem to become unbalanced.
How deep should I dig my pond?
For a wildlife pond, the central section should be about 2ft 60-75cm deep: any more than this and you are just creating work for yourself., With pond liner don’t forget to allow a little extra depth to allow for a protective layer of sand or old carpet. Create plenty of shelving around the edges with some shallower shelves at a depth of 15-25cm around the edges and a width of 25-30cm to put aquatic plants on. A beach area at one end where the pond gently slopes from the bottom to the edge of the pond will provide easy access for pond creatures, and an escape for those that accidentally fall in.Keep all the sides of the pond sloping rather than vertical, to help creatures get in and out, and minimise the risk of the sides caving in.
What shall I use to line my pond?
There are two main options for lining a pond: a preformed pond, or a liner. Preformed liners are a rigid mould, which is usually made from fibreglass, plastic, or rubber. They are available in a range of shapes and sizes, and are ideal tend to be used for small to medium sized ponds. They can be quite expensive however for a decent quality one, and in our opinion are generally poorly designed with very limited planting shelves. Avoid the ones with a channel around the perimeter which claims to be a bog area, as this is pretty hopeless.
Pond liners give you more freedom to create a pond of any size and shape that you want, and are a more affordable option than a preformed liner. They also give you the option of being able to expand the pond in the future, should you wish to do so. The best ones
are usually made from a tough but flexible rubber material, either butyl or EPDM, and correctly installed should last up to 50 years. They give you more freedom to create a pond of any size and shape that you want, and are a more affordable option than a preformed liner. They also give you the option of being able to expand the pond in the future, should you wish to do so.
Once you have your pond liner in place, you can use a few large rocks and stones to help keep it secure, or dig a trench around the pond and lay the liner into this and fill with soil. You can then either wait for it to fill up will rainwater, or add water collected from a water butt. If you use tap water, leave it to stand for at least 24 hours first, to let some of the chlorine evaporate.
What plants do I need for my pond?
It’s best to choose a mixture of oxygenating plants which live below the surface of the water and help wildlife breathe while soaking up excess nutrients. Hornwort and spiked water milfoilWillow moss are just two good examples. Work on 1-2 per square metre of surface area.
Choose some floating deep water plants such as water lilies to provide shade, shelter, and a method for frogs and insects to exit and enter the water. Marginal plants are those which you can place on the ledges around the edge of the pond. They add visual interest and help to attract pollinating insects and also consume excess nutrients in the pond water..
To help keep your pond water in the best condition and provide the best ecosystem for pond life, ensure you a include good variety and density of planting that will provide flowering and interest throughout the growing season.
It’s important to include plenty of native species in your selection, because they have naturally evolved to nurture wildlife such as bees, frogs, and invertebrates.
Child safety and garden ponds
If you have small children or pets, and you are worried about them falling into the pond, you could build a raised pond with stone, wood, or brick sides, and line it with a sturdy pond liner. Other options to child-proof a pond include building a fence around it or covering it with a metal grille.
Mini container ponds
If you have a paved back yard garden, or even a balcony, it is still possible to create a mini pond in a container. You can just use a cut-down barrel, an old Belfast sink, or a plastic washing up bowl. Place it where it will get some sun, but is not under the full glare all day long. Line the bottom with gravel or stones, and fill it up with rainwater.
You can either dig a hole to sink the pond to ground level or leave it on the surface. If you do not sink your pond, remember to build steps or a ramp to help wildlife climb in and out. Add some slow growing, small leaved aquatic plants in baskets to help keep the water healthy, such as marsh marigold. There are even dwarf Water lilies that are suitable for container ponds.