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Some help with my 'wildlife' pond

Really after some advice with a small pond. It was put in, many years ago (by previous owners) in an aim to be a 'wildlife' pond. Unfortunately, they put it under a huge oak tree and so, inevitably, it ends up with a lot of acorns/oak leaves which generally leave the water fairly murky and brown.

It is in a nice location, and I have no ambitions on it being a beautifully clear oasis, but would love some tips on how to move forward. I do net it every year but inevitably some leaves get through, plus the ones that settle on the netting leach in to the water.

It seems pretty stagnant (murky brown, pretty wiffy), and I've never noticed any wildlife activity other than the water snails that inhabit it. It has a (struggling) lily in the bottom, but no other plants (it wasn't built with marginal shelves so it's deep water or nothing!!) There is no way of getting electricity down there and it is sighted in partial shade (sun for about 6 hours per day in summer).

Can anyone advise me on what steps I can reasonably take, to smarten it up a bit. As I say, no designs on transforming it in to an oasis but would really compliment its surroundings if I could just improve the water a little.

Many thanks .....



  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,196


    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Oooh ... now THAT is not a bad idea!!

  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 10,999

    Pansyface, I would class that as the idea of a genius image

  • So, in that case I am after a bit of advice on how to do it. Specifically

    1) The 'pond' itself is quite deep (2-3'), which is far deeper than if you started a bog garden from scratch. Should I make some holes in the very bottom, or around the upper edges?

    2) What should I fill it in with? Should I just chuck any old rubble/hardcore in to take up some of the room? Then, what sort of soil should I use (research seems to suggest topsoil is not so wise)?

  • The_herpetologistThe_herpetologist West YorksPosts: 481

    I would put the holes around the sides a few inches up from the bottom so that you retain a pool of very wet soil. As for what to fill it with, that would depend on what you want to grow. Gunners manicata and some hosta like humus rich soil whereas brunnera and water mint are happy in any old rubbish. I wouldn’t bother with the grit / rubble as this tends to be what you might use if good drainage is desirable, which for a bog garden isn’t. I used water retaining clay pebbles and compost for my bog garden. The clay pebbles stop the bog garden from getting smelly.

  • The_herpetologistThe_herpetologist West YorksPosts: 481


    Et voila !

  • Thanks The honourable herp - very helpful. Hadn’t considered the clay pebbles but I will do. What sort of proportion would you recommend?

    Regarding the ‘pool’ of water in the bottom? Does this not result in a stagnant pool, rather than making it very slow draining in general ..... so that water is constantly refreshed, albeit slowly? I’m not disagreeing with you, I just like to understand the processes behind what I do!!

  • The_herpetologistThe_herpetologist West YorksPosts: 481

    That's why the clay pebbles- they go where the pool forms with the soil on top.You don't need the clay pebbles or the pool at the bottom, but without them you'd need to remember to keep it topped up with water during dry spells. The pool and clay pebbles method is more forgiving as it will rarely if ever dry to an extent that becomes a problem.

  • Ok, interesting. So dump the clay pebbles in the bottom, with the soil on top as opposed to mixing it all up? Presumably wouldn’t need all that many of the pebbles then?

  • The_herpetologistThe_herpetologist West YorksPosts: 481

    In a bog garden we want a good and consistent level of moisture retention but without having the plant roots sitting for too long in a pool of muddy water without access to oxygen. Clay pebbles soak up and retain the water but keeps the soil around them moist and allows the roots access to oxygen. That's why clay pebbles are used in hydroponics. 

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