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A New Wildlife Pond ( last)

Hi folks. My newest project is building a Wildlife Pond in the garden so I thought it might be fun to document the progress as I go about this. I realise that this should maybe have been started a bit earlier in the year but better late than never I suppose. We’ve been thinking about a pond for a while now but the only place we can really put it is quite close to some trees down the left hand side of our garden. I think this may raise some concerns with the root system puncturing the pond liner but I’m thinking if I can line the pond with maybe a thick piece of old carpet, sand and pond liner insulation, thing should be fine. The trees that are close to where the pond is going are conifer types so aren’t actually too deep rooted. I’m also considering building a small Hibernacula next to the pond in the hope that this may encourage Frogs and Toads to take up residence here. The pond itself is not going to have any pumps or filter systems, I’ll be relying on the correct plants and creepy-crawlies to carry out the task of keeping the water clean and oxygenated. I’ve been looking at a lot of other threads on here in regards to other peoples Wildlife Ponds so I’m hoping that I may get some good advice along the way, this is all new to me so any and all suggestions and help would be very much appreciated. There are another few issues in regards to the slope of the garden but I’ll get to these as we go along. The first step was to decide on the size and shape of the pond which wasn’t as easy as it may sound. I didn’t want a rectangular pond nor did I fancy a teardrop shaped pond. After about an hour or so of messing around with a hosepipe on the ground, we decided on the shape that you can see in this first photo.

Once this had been decided upon, the first cut went in...

And the job of removing the turf began...

I've been doing most of the work in the evening after I come home from work and I managed to capture this sunset at the end of the first night.

This next photo shows the area where the pond is going to be, taken from the upstairs window in the house.

The roots from the trees are actually quite small and shallow so hopefully things should be fine in regards to this. I suspect that the further down I dig, the less roots I'll come across.

Anyone who's taken turfs off a lawn will know that it's actually quite hard work, they're much heavier than they look to be.!!

I'll maybe add some photos of the birds that visit the garden as well, like this male Blackbird. I've been spoiling him a bit by feeding him pastry and now when I go out into the garden he almost always appears and follows me around until I've given him his pastry fix. On the upside, he comes really close to me at times, within a foot or so although I always throw the pastry balls into the middle of the lawn in case any of my cats are lurking around. I saw him feeding a youngster the other week but I haven't seen the youngster since. He always takes the first load of pastry away, then returns and eats the second lot himself.!!

At last, the turfs are all removed.

The pond doesn't actually look as if it'll be too large and I know that it'll 'come in' a bit once it's planted up, but when you look at the area that the removed turfs cover, I think the entire surface area is in the region of sixty square feet. I've laid the turfs aside for now as I'm still not sure if I maybe need some of them during the build.

I do actually have the basic outlines of a plan for all of this. I've made this up on the PC as I didn't really want to show off too much with my excepionally neat handwriting....!! Like all plans though, it may change as time goes on.!!

As you can see from the plan, the shape of the pond on the left hand side is also to accomodate the Hibrenacula, plus I need access down that side for trimming the trees now and again. You'll have noticed that I intend to put a wall at the bottom end of the pond although this is only going to be a few inches high. I still have lots of stones left from my recent wall building project as you can see from this next photo. I have plans to use a lot of the stones in the pond but more about that later.

I thought ity would maybe be fun to have a wander round the garden at times so I'll start off with a wee look at what's going on in the Greenhouse at the mpment. Mrs A has been gathering bedding plants as you can see from the next few photos.

A few more...

She's also got four hanging baskets planted up although they've still to be hardened off before being put uot at the start of June maybe.

The first two...

And another two....

The only thing that I have in the Greenhouse at the moment are these Carrots. (Ignore the scruffy handwriting, a deranged five year old child must have snuck in, erased my perfect handwriting and replaced it with his own).!!

Whilst we're on the subject of vegetables, I've got a few things going on in containers and bags. From left to right at the back we have five bags of Potatoes, Mint, Rosemary, and a stone container with Herbs in it. I know there's Chives, Parsley, Thyme,Fennel and a few other things that escape me at the moment. In the containers at the front from left to right we have Peas, Spring Onions (which I've only put into half of the container, the other half I'll sow in maybe a month's time), Onions and Cabbages. I'll maybe keep you posted on the progress of these as the Pond build goes on.

Speaking of the Pond, I've begun the process of digging it out.

I'm starting off by going down to around one foot in depth althought this won't apply to all the way round as I intend to have a few gradual slopes going into the water. I'll dig a one foot deep shelf all around the back of the pond (the edge furthest away from the path). The soil was actually quite dry so the digging hasn't been too difficult (so far).!!

And a bit more progress...

A few more birds have been in the garden as all this is going on, like this handsome Jackdaw....

And one of the first young Starlings to appear although their numbers are starting to take off now.!!

A quick dash out to the front of the house now to show you this Lilac tree/bush in the front garden.

And what may be my first ever sighting of an Orange Tip Butterfy? Mrs A spotted it.!!

Since I'm still on the subject of plants, here are one or two others which are starting to come out at the moment. This Aquilegia has started to show (I think that this may be one that I grew from seed last year but I'm not 100% sure of this).

I've no idea what this is.!! It's really pretty though.

Getting back to the pond again, one issue that I have is that the garden slopes away the further down you go. This next diagram shows the difference from one end of the pond to the other.

This leaves me with what I think may be two possibilities. I could build up the surronding area of the pond to have the wall at the far end raised about eight inches as is shown in the next diagram.

The problem I have with this idea is that the new wall that I built recently would be hidden from view along the front of the flower bed when viewed from up the garden. The front of the new wall is only around four inches high. I think I may have decided to raise the wall at the end of the pond to around two inches and then when digging back to the other end I'll actually sink the pond's maximum level around six inches into the ground, if you follow my meaning. The next diagram may help explain this a bit better.

You can see in the diagram where the Hibernacula is possibly going to fit into all of this but more about that another time I think. I've got a few summer/autumn flowering Heathers to plant on the Hibernacula as you can see from this next photo.

As you can see from this next photo, the weather got quite wet for a few days.

This led me to erect a small Gazebo above the pond area, after all, I'm not quite ready to have it filled with water yet.!!

The final photo of this particular post shows the progress made to date. I'm not hopefull that too much will be achieved in the next week as I've come down with a stinker of a cold and I'm also on holiday for a week and had two or three days out planned. (The stones in the hole are just in case a Hedgehog manages to fall in, allowing it to get back out more easily).!!

Thank you if you've read all of this and I'll update it once more progress has been made. I do know that I still have drainage/overflow issues to look at but I have a basic plan for that as well. Until the next time, I hope you've enjoyed.


My bird photos HERE

  • What a fabulous thread Paul,  really enjoyed reading all your excellent ideas, not to mention professional looking plans and the progress already is amazing, taking very nice shape;   Yes, I agree that the turf is extremely heavy to move and that's before you've got down to the digging part so make sure you have a couple of pints handy so you can take some time out before you dig down any deeper  - or is it Beecham's with lemon at the moment ! ?   - so sorry to hear you've come down with a heavy cold :(  and hope you feel better soon.    The photos are brilliant,  gives such a clear view of the area and work completed so far, as well as what the finished pond will look like.   The shade of the tree may help prevent build up of algae as ponds in full sunshine will be very prone to that unless they have a covering of waterlilies and the like .........and you'll have to get some of those but check on the sizes of the waterlilies as some can have huge pads  lol    With not having filters the oxygenating plants like water violet (Hottonia Palustris) and Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus Aquatilis) will help;  even though we have a filter we still bought a few plants to help and some floating plants called Stratiotes Aloides (Water Soldiers) and I think another was a water hyacinth which will flower hopefully !  

    Thanks for the bird photos too, always nice to see the garden visitors and well done to Mrs.A on her magnificent hanging baskets, you'll have to take more shots when they come into full flower :)      Guess I'm prattling on again so better go get myself a cuppa before I take up any more of your valuable pond digging time  LOL !!!   keep up the good work, can't wait for next installment :)  


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Your threads are so interesting Paul, you seem to have a natural ability to write & entertain at the same time.

    I prefer the second idea for the water level as ponds are naturally lower than the surrounding ground & you want to be able to complement your lovely wall! We have used old carpets to line our ponds in the past & it works well, the last one was a Wilton!!

    I can't really offer that much in the way of advice except to be very careful with buying reeds as one that we bought took over the entire pond & the root system formed a huge mass that we could barely drag out in one piece. We had to chop it into big chunks from the edge. Since then I had to re-pot all the other plants that it had invaded. Fingers crossed it's gone now.

    You've made a brilliant start & can't wait for the updates. Your garden will look amazing when all your baskets & plants are out, do you have a "most beautiful garden" type competition in your area? You'd win it easily!!

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • In reply to Noisette:

    Thanks for your very nice comments the two Hazels.

    Hazy: Thanks for the plant names and ideas, these will all be noted and looked at in more depth (ignore the pun) as the time comes to plant up. We have two garden centres within a twenty minute drive from us that deal with aquatic plants, one of which has quite a large selection on offer. They also have a small pond planted up with a map showing which plants are where which is a good help as you can see a lot of them 'in situ' if you know what I mean.

    Hazel: One of the jobs I have coming up inside the house is the decorating of a spare room. If I had a Wilton lining my pond I might be sorely tempted to drain it and use the Wilton in the spare room instead.!!

    Mrs A says thanks to the both of you for your lovely comments about her garden. The front garden, whilst being quite small is looking quite colourful at the moment, I may just take you on a tour around it in the next update.


    My bird photos HERE

  • In reply to Paul A:

    Our Wilton came from a friends flood damaged house, but I did cut the best piece out to put in our campervan.LOL!

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • In reply to Noisette:

    Hi Paul, I have no experience of building ponds whatsoever so am not able to offer any advice to you, but just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed reading this thread and seeing how to tackle building a pond from scratch.  Might just show your post to my husband and see what he says........!!!!   (Don't ask - I guess I will just have to admire other peoples' ponds!!)  It looks an awful lot of hard work, but must be very rewarding.  I will really look forward to reading your updates and seing what eventually makes its home there.

    From the looks of your greenhouse, MrsA is a really keen gardener too - bet your garden is going to be a real riot of colour in a few weeks - full of all sorts of insect life.

    Hope your cold gets better soon and that you are not suffering too much.  Enjoy your week off.  I've also got next week off work too and have one or two outings planned, so hopefully a few more photos to post afterwards.

    See my Flickr photos here


  • In reply to ChristineB:

    Hello Paul,

    I'm sorry to read that you are still not better. Please get well ASAP because of your holidays. It would be a pity if you had to spend them on the sofa.

    A very big compliment from me, too, for Mrs A's hanging-baskets. They are a feast for the eyes.

    As far as the work on the pond is concerned, you seem to have thought of everything: The shelter from rain, the stones for the hedgehog to get out,....I would never have had such ideas. And your drawings nearly made me burst out laughing: You have already added a frog and bees! And this skeleton and bones in the ground... If I believed in reincarnation, I would think you were in a former life an archaeologist.

    Unfortunately I have no experiences with building ponds (or anything else, come to that), but I'll follow this thread eagerly, as it is never too late to learn. And thinking of your Wall-thread and the start of this one, I can already tell that at least we'll all have some fun (maybe except you, because you have all the work ;-) )

    Get well quickly, enjoy your holidays and take care!

    Regards, Bente

  • In reply to Bente S:

    Thanks folks, your kind comments are very much appreciated.

    Hazel: I'd have done the same thing with the carpet, waste not, want not....

    Christine: I'm glad you enjoyed reading this and I think you're correct when you say that it'll be rewarding when it's all finished. I'm quite excited to see what'll turn up in the pond. I can remember seeing some small Frogs at the bottom of the garden on a wet night about two or three years ago so I'm hopefull that they might find the pond once it's filled. The garden is starting to come to life now and over the last couple of years we've been trying to plant things that'll bring the insects in. The Orange Tip is the first one I can remember seeing...ever.!! I'm already looking forward to seeing what you're up to during your week off and I hope you have a really nice time whatever you do.

    Bente: Mrs A says thanks to both yourself and Christine for your kind compliments in regards to her Greenhouse, garden and hanging baskets.(She has also asked me to inform all of you that she is suffering more from my cold than I am, even though she doesn't have a cold).!! I'm glad you liked the diagrams, I thought it would be fun to do them as I did. I've a feeling that it's going to take me some time to do all of this so I hope we can all have a bit of fun and learn some things along the way.


    My bird photos HERE

  • Congratulations of your new scheme Paul.   A man with a plan and the ability to carry it out by the looks of the above.   It's quite a task to do all that, so good luck to you.   By the look of the greenhouse and the plants therein I would say you will be having visitors thinking it is a nursery any time now, the baskets look brilliant, so credit to Mrs P, look forward to your updates when your cold gets better.

    Lot to learn

  • In reply to gaynorsl:

    Thanks Birdie and Gaynor for your lovely comments. No further work has been carried out yet due to me feeling miserable, although I seem to be picking up a bit now. The bedding plants (I've been informed) may be getting planted out this week, I can almost hear the slugs licking their lips.!! Hopefully the pond, once complete, will attract Frogs and Toads which in turn may help keep the slug population in check. I spoke to a friend today who's promised me a couple of Tomato Plants and a couple of Cucumber plants, (a permission slip to put the Tomato plants into the Greenhouse has been applied for from Mrs A).!! I'll once again pass on your kind compliments about Mrs A's baskets.


    My bird photos HERE

  • In reply to Paul A:

    I hope you'll be feeling better soon Paul. Summer colds are so horrible!

    You'll have to go out on "slug hunts" at night with a torch. If you don't want to kill them (boiling water in the bucket) you can keep them overnight & release them the next day in a field some way from home. 3 consectutive nights does the trick. Also we put half-round roof tiles on the garden & the slugs congregate there during the day so they are easily removed, our toads also live under these tiles so it's breakfast in bed for them!

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France