Build a Garden Pond
Ponds are probably the single most important wildlife feature that can be added to a garden, attracting a host of creatures from birds, to frogs and beneficial insects.
It's easy to create a simple pond in your own garden. Always consider the following:
a) The view of the feature from every angle of the garden and house.
b) The type of pond - will you use a liner or a preformed pool?
c) The size of the pond
d) The type of plants you wish to grow. Different plants require different depths of water.
e) Avoid shady areas, especially near deciduous trees.
f) Seek professional advice when constructing complicated designs and using electricity to operate pumps.
Materials: Butyl liner; Pond insulation liner or old carpet; Paving or turf for edging ; Soft building sand.
Tools: Craft knife; Hose - for marking our shape; Plank - long enough to reach over pond; Spade; Spirit level; Wooden pegs.
How big should my pond be?
To look right, a pond needs to be in proportion to its surrounding area. A tiny pond would look lost in a huge garden, while a large pond would dominate a small garden. You also need to think about what depth to make your pond. As a general rule of thumb, a pond should be 60cm (2ft) deep if you want plants and fish in it. Water that’s too shallow is vulnerable to evaporating in warm weather and freezing in winter. If you want to grow marginal plants along the edge of the water, you need to create shelves for them to stand on.
How much pond liner do I need?
Measure the length, width and maximum depth of your pond. Twice depth plus width; twice depth plus length = the minimum size to buy. In practice pond liner comes off a standard size roll, so you’ll usually end up having to buy a bigger piece than you need. But don’t despair as the offcuts come in handy for things like lining a waterfall or small secondary pond.
Step by Step
a) Define the perimeter of the pond, either with string, hosepipe, or by trickling a layer of dry sand through your fingers. Remove the turf from the area and stack neatly away from the working place.
b) Excavate the area with a spade to the depth of the first shelf. Mark the outline of the shelf with sand or string. Dig out the centre of the pond and either add additional shelves, or dig until the required maximum depth has been reached. Check each shelf is level.
c) Move the dug out soil to another area of the garden. Check the sides of the pond follow the profile you intended. It is a good idea to give one side of the pond a gentle slope to offer animals, such as hedgehogs, a means of escape if they fall in.
d) Remove any lumps or sharp stones from the hole. Then spread a 3cm (1.2in) layer of soft builders sand over the area. This will help protect the butyl liner being punctured. A layer of pond underlay or old carpet above the sand will provide an additional protection.
e) Get a helper to assist in unfolding the butyl liner. Spread it evenly over the hole taking care not to damage it by dragging it on the ground. Secure the sides of the liner with bricks.
f) Start filling the pool with water and pull the edges of the liner so that it fits neatly over the contours of the pond. Continue filling the hole with water until the pond is full.
g) Trim the sides of the liner leaving a 30cm (12in) overlap around the sides of the pond. Cover these with paving slabs, or if you want to create a more natural effect, lay turf up to the water's edge. The liner should be covered to prevent sunlight causing it to perish.
h) Position plants and add oxygenators. If you want to add fish wait six weeks until the plants are established.
Select native plants for ponds and their surrounds, as invasive non native plants pose a threat to natural wetlands. Do not include any of the 'plants to avoid', some of which have already escaped garden ponds and caused significant damage to natural wetlands.
IMPORTANT: Pond Safety
According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), children below the age of five are most at risk of drowning in garden ponds. The only way to avoid potential disasters is to not have a pond. There are, however, precautions that you can take to significantly reduce the chance of accidents.
Rigid steel mesh frames can be positioned securely over ponds, these can be obtained from security grille suppliers and metal stockholders who should be able to cut the mesh to size. Mesh should be heavy duty, ideally made from 6mm to 8mm diameter wire. Secure it firmly and it should support the weight of a young child. Ideally the mesh should be positioned above the water level.
Information on Pond Safety
Advice sheet on Frogs, toads and newts in garden ponds.
(To view the information leaflet above you may need to download Adobe pdf Reader).