I have always wanted to dig a pond in the garden so when I had my chance I went for it and applied spade to ground. Turned out I wasn’t a natural digger so I roped in reinforcements. We struggled downward together and I guided them along the way with kind words of encouragement. “It’s not deep enough yet”.
When making a pond it was first important to envisage how big I wanted it to be, how deep and what wildlife features it should have. The key features I wanted were:
- A shallow side of the pond so that birds could go down to drink and bath, and animals, like hedgehogs, could escape if they fell into the pond.
- A mixture of shallow and deeper water depths. The sun would warm shallow waters, and be good for some invertebrates but the deeper areas would provide possible overwintering for frogs at the bottom of the pond. Therefore it needed to be deep enough not to freeze, ours was around 1 metre deep.
- A variety of plants creating shaded areas in the pond as well as vegetation margins around the pond.
Digging the pond originally seemed simple but there were a lot of things to think about, but it was worth it when it was done as it really made a huge difference to the garden.
As the area where the pond was to be dug was already bare earth there wasn’t any grass turf to remove which was a bonus. Next we followed these steps:
- Mark out the pond and start digging.
- When the pond is deep enough it has to be lined. Cover the mud with a protective layer, we used sand. This is to prevent your liner from puncturing and therefore causing reductions in water levels once the pond is completed. You can use a rubber liner, like we did, or a plastic liner. Yes I too just shuddered at the word ‘plastic’ but a manmade lining is unfortunately necessary if the pond will not naturally form, otherwise the water you put into the pond would just permeate into the ground. I still cringe a little thinking there is some man made object in my wildlife patch though. Anyway moving on.
- Fill it up. The best part in my view – although it did take a lot of trips to and from the water butt and the end result was a muddy looking puddle. Using natural rain water is really important and to save the continuous journeys you could let it naturally fill up, although I was too impatient for that. The edges of the liner were covered over with turf, as a vegetable patch was conveniently being dug at the same time so there were some spare.
Once the pond was physically dug it was time to try and find some plants to put in it. It was important to find a variety of plants, including emergent and submerged. Luckily there was a lady relatively nearby who grew native plants for ponds so we acquired some oxygenating submerged plants and others, such as Frogbit, which is sort of like a mini lilly. The pond now looked like a slightly less muddy puddle with a few bits of greenery thrown in.
After a while however I was amazed at how quickly wildlife began to use the pond. The birds were constantly coming down to drink and bath, including the robin, house sparrow, chaffinch, blackbird and others. The water surface soon became completely crowded with pond skaters, and although I am yet to see the pond being used by any amphibians someone told me they saw a frog jump in when they went to have a look. So every time I watch or check the pond I hope to see something, but nothing yet. We’ll see. One thing is for sure and that is that my pond has definitely created a home for wildlife.