A Pond in your garden

Water in your garden adds a whole new dimension to the pleasure you derive from it. You can grow a number of plants which you would not otherwise be able to cultivate and the wildlife it attracts is endlessly fascinating. If you have moving water, the sound and look is very soothing.

If you do not have a stream in your garden (and most of us don’t), then the alternative it to build your own water feature. This could be a man-made stream or rill or a pond with, perhaps a water fall.

It is not difficult to make a pond. It is simply a hole which is made waterproof and filled up with water. Making one which fits your taste, is useful and safe to wildlife, and is able to sustain plants takes a bit more care and planning.

First, the size and shape of your pond. This is a matter of taste, how much room you have, and how much you can afford in the way of pond liners. Remember though, if you want to keep any fish – even goldfish- then it needs to be at least 2.5 feet deep. This is so that it does not freeze too much in the winter and get too hot in the summer. One other thing about siting your pond. Try not to put it under trees. The leaves will fall into the water and rot. This will make your pond smell nasty, it will also make the water toxic to plants and wildlife. If you want to grow ‘marginal’ plants in your pond, you will also need to build in a shelf 9 inches from the top. This can be around as much of the pond as you wish, but it is nice to leave a gently sloping area into the pond to allow any wildlife to come and drink from your pond without falling in. It will also allow any creatures which do fall in  to get out. If you cannot build in a slope, then add a stick or branch which they can climb on to get out. There are a number of fatalities among hedgehogs particularly because they fall into garden ponds and exhaust themselves trying to get out, eventually dying.

After you have decided on the size and shape of your pond, mark it out with string and leave it for a week so that you can make sure that is exactly what you want. Then just dig it. Make the sides slope slightly outwards from the centre, it will make it more stable. Next comes the lining.

In order to have a pond you need to keep water in it. This means a waterproof lining of some kind. You could put in six inches of fullers earth. This makes it very natural. It also makes it very hard work and very expensive, and not necessarily permanent. You could concrete the bottom and sides. Again, it’s hard work and you need to ensure that the chemicals in the concrete do not leach into the pond and upset the balance of the water. The other, much easier, much less expensive way is to you a plastic liner.

Basically, there are two types of plastic liner you can buy. The first is made of butyl, it is quite thick and therefore is hard wearing. It is usually guaranteed for up to 20 years. The less expensive alternative is a plastic liner. These work very well. However, they only last about five years and will then need to be removed and replaced. A nuisance if you have a lovely looking, settled pond.

Working out how much liner you will need is quite easy.  First you measure the depth. Make a note of this size , you will need it. Next measure the longest part of your pond, add the twice the depth of your pond. This is the length of liner you need. The width is much the same, measure the widest part of your proposed pond and add twice the depth. It works like this: If your pond is going tobe 3 feet long, 1 fot wide and 2 feet deep, then the liner will need to be at least 3 ft plus 1 ft plus 1 ft long and 2 ft plus 1 fot plus 1 fot wide. Furthermore, you could really use a litte overhang, so that it can be anchored at the edges by waterever you are edging your pond with. I will talk about this at a later time.

If you have a stony soil, you should put a thick lining to protect the plastic from being cut by the stones (even if you don.t have a particularly stony soil, it is still as well to do this). You can do this by either laying two inches or so of sand and then laying your liner on it, or line it with something else which is thick and will resist stones. Old carpet it ideal. Then lay your liner, making sure there are no folds or wrinkles in it. Anchor the sides, the liner will move inwards as it fills up with water, but allow some movement as you don’t want it hanging above the ground at the bottom. Fill it with water and voila, you have a pond ready for plants, fish or whatever else you want to do with it.

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