We started this project in February when we decided to move the Building the cats slept in! Honestly, that was all the little house was used for! It also took up room and light so a new area was in order! The old pond liner has degraded so much it is full of holes so we decided to create a wildlife pond in this space. What we hadn’t expected was the cold and snowy weather we had in March which really put our plans behind. However, during the Easter break we have finished the wildlife pond and it looks fabulous!
What to do with this space?
This was the area once the site had been cleared. It was enormous! Much bigger than we had imagined!
Digging the wildlife pond
We wanted the pond to be a kidney shape and we wanted both shallow and deeper areas. A good depth for a wildlife pond is just over your knees in the deepest part (about a metre).Any deeper and the sunlight wouldn’t get down to this level. Any shallower and it may freeze in winter. We added 3 different depths in steps up to a shallow ridge on two sides. This allows a handy shelf to sit plants on and it also creates warmer, shallower water for creatures to live in. Adding different depth layers will help provide habitats for different animals and plants. You also want to think about how wildlife such as hedgehogs, will be able to drink from the pond without falling in and if they do fall in, how they will get out again! Wildlife ponds do not have to be large so if you have a small garden you can still create havens for wildlife.
Removing sticks and stones
You need to remove all the stones and sticks so that the liner doesn’t get torn once you add water. We had a large tree stump in the way left over from the Leylandii which had to come out and that was hard work! We got as much as we could out but left the stump in under the soil in the end because it was so huge.
Lining your wildlife pond
To calculate the size of the liner you will need to add twice the maximum depth to both the width and the length.
We put an underlay underneath the liner for added protection from sharp sticks and stones as you really don’t want to rip the liner. You can add a layer of soft sand, old carpet or newspaper instead which will do the same thing. Once the water is in, the added pressure can easily rip the liner so good preparation is key. Once the pond was full with water, we left it for 2 whole weeks for the area to settle. This proved to be quite important as we didn’t want any movement once we started to concrete the pavers in place. You need at least a 50cm overlap of liner around the edges to secure it in place. We used pavers to secure the liner but you could also use gravel, pebbles or soil.
Adding the edging.
The edging around the pond secures the liner in place. We were lucky to be able to reuse pavers but you could use any material here such as railway sleepers or bricks. Having small gaps in between the edging and the liner is good as this will leave spaces for wildlife to live. We filled the gaps with pebbles to complete a more pleasing finish.
Adding the plants to your wildlife pond
It’s best to leave the water for another week or so. This ensures that the water is ready for wildlife and plants as tap water is too chlorinated for wildlife. Then you are ready to add the plants. This is definately the best part!
I added many plants to the pond but did this over the course of a whole week as the weather was so cold and I was worried they wouldn’t survive! I also transferred some from the old pond. For a healthy pond you need lots of oxygenated plants; I asked for advice from the local garden centre who were very helpful.
Wait for the wildlife to come to your pond
For the first week of the Easter break, it was cold and very, very wet so the primroses loved it and settled in quickly! I then added a few new plants including some shrubs that I moved from other parts of the garden. I just hope they all survive. I want to add some more plants that will attract bees and other insects so will do that as the month warms up. I have already seen bumble bees enjoying the primroses.
The wildlife pond is looking amazing and frogs have laid their frogspawn in it already! I just hope that there is enough for the new tadpoles to eat once they hatch. The water is looking quite green but that is just the algae blooming in the first days of the spring sunshine. This should settle in time.
To read more about the benefits of cheating a wildlife pond in your garden, I found this post useful.
I’m really pleased with the new wildlife pond! I just hope the wildlife like it too.
Update: We have newts!
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A blog about my life in The Old House, a mum to teenagers, a primary school teacher and my passion for gardening.