Creating a Pond

Making a pond is one of the best things you can do to encourage wildlife. You will be providing a home for frogs, toads, dragonflies, pondskaters, diving beetles, to name but a few. Birds also benefit from somewhere to drink and bathe.

  • Get an adult to help you choose a suitable site. Do not put it under trees. It won’t get enough light and will fill with leaves in the autumn. Ask an adult to check that you won’t be digging up any underground cables or pipes. If you can, put your pond near a source of water so that you can fill it up in dry weather. If there are young children around, you need to fence the pond off or make it safe to prevent them falling in.
  • Plan and mark out the shape. Choose a simple shape. Gently rounded edges are easiest and look good. Mark out the shape on the ground with sticks and string. Decide what you are going to do with the earth from the pond. Maybe make a mound nearby.
  • If you have any old rubble or bushy cuttings to dispose of, consider burying this under the soil.  Put the larger rubble down first and lay the *brash across it at right angles.  Then, mix the soil with some of the rubble near the top to create gaps and air pockets as you cover the cuttings brash with the remaining soil.  All the little gaps will allow amphibians to dig into the mound for shelter and to hibernate.
  • Dig the hole. If you have to remove turf, then you may want to keep it aside to cover the liner around the edges of the poind when you have finished. The pond needs to be at least 60 cm deep otherwise it freezes solid. You need to dig it a bit deeper than you want it, because of the space the liner takes up. Some of the sides should slope gently to make it easy for animals to get in and out.
  • Remove any sharp objects from the bottom and edges of the hole you have dug then completely line it with a thick layer of newspapers or old carpet. You could use a 5 cm layer of sieved soil or fine sand instead.   A fibre under-blanket will offer the liner more protection
  • Spread the liner over the hollow to cover the bottom and sides. There needs to be a 30 cm overlap around the pond. Don’t trim it at this stage.
  • Weigh the liner down with smooth stones. Cover it with a thin layer of soft earth (free from manure which would be bad for minibeasts). This makes the pond look more natural and protects the liner from sunlight which can damage it. If you are planning to plant directly into the soil then you need 15–20 cm depth. Alternatively you can place plants in pots.
  • Fill the pond slowly using the buckets or a hose, disturbing the earth as little as possible, then get an adult to trim the edges of the liner, which you can then cover with soil.   If you have a water butt you could fill the pond from that by connecting a hose to it.
  • Let the pond settle for at least a week before you do any planting. Wildlife will soon find the pond naturally, pond skaters maybe among the first to noticeably arrive.
  • Be aware that if you put goldfish into the pond they will eat most of the wild creatures.
  • And don’t let your pond get overgrown. Carefully pull out some (not more than a third) of any plant which is getting overgrown and leave it on the edge so that any minibeasts in it can crawl back into the water. The best time to do this is in autumn.

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