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Building a wildlife pond in October

 I really enjoy reading other forum members' posts about pond creation, so I thought I'd share the process of my own  :)

Somehow I wasn't able to get round to starting it until this month. At least that meant I avoided the hot weather, but now it's a race to get it finished before the rain sets in properly!

Other issues with starting a pond now: my local aquatic shops didn't have much choice of plants left on offer. I managed to get some marginals and equisetum, but no oxygenators or surface cover plants. Do you think that's going to be a problem over winter? Should I try to find them online?

Anyway, here are some progress photos. I chose a spot at the end of an awkward lawn that's more weeds than grass! It gets a good balance of sun and shade, and it's near the sparrows' favourite hedge so they can bathe conveniently :) Round about will be planting, some stepping stones and ideally a small bog garden.

First day's work (it's OK, there were three of us to do the turf-cutting and digging!). The pond is around 2.5 x 2.5 metres, and 0.5m at the deepest part.

Second day's work - lining with old carpet!

The next task is to add the liner, I'm slightly dreading it because it's going to be very fiddly  :#

I went out in the dark afterwards to clear up and saw a large frog hopping along the path, so hopefully the pond will soon have inhabitants!


  • Looking good!

    I've built a few ponds over the years and there's several ways of doing it.

    So others about to build one who are viewing this thread may be interested.

    For small ponds I've always recommended bulding a concrete collar of about 9" wide and three inches deep, before digging it out. In this way you can ensure it will be perfectly level and you'll make less of a mess of your lawn.
    Make it "fall" slightly  away from the pool so that any lawn treatment if used, doesn't get carried into the pond when it rains once it's finished.

    However it isn't essential,  but it does help when fitting a liner regardless of what sort of finish you have to the edges.

    So with this one  which I think is fine, I'd suggest checking that it will be level when finished, by putting a straight edge across it in all directions if you haven't already done so.
    If it isn't quite level you can build up the edge that isn't so that when finished you don't see more of the liner on one side than on the other.

    Fitting  a liner takes some care.

    Best stretch it out on the lawn first to get any sun there is to make it a bit more pliable.

    You need to fit it as you fill. Even a few inches in depth will make it difficult to "iron out" any creases you notice as water is so heavy.
    If you've enough rocks lay them on the edge of the liner all the way round, these will help a bit in fitting the liner as they will slowly move with the liner keeping it taut as the pond fills helping to reduce the creases.

  • Thanks, @Doghouse Riley ! Does the tip about stretching the liner out in the sun apply to all types? I already have mine, it's a Flexiliner from
  • Thanks, @Doghouse Riley ! Does the tip about stretching the liner out in the sun apply to all types? I already have mine, it's a Flexiliner from

    I used Pondkeeper for a couple of decades, they're a first class firm. I've bought pumps and UVs from them.

    I've no idea if warming  up that material will be necessary, I'm "old school" and haven't  used a liner since I relined this, our frog pond about ten years ago.

    I've closed that recently as we've a hedgehog that isn't too bright and we don't want it falling in.

    I've only ever used butyl for "proper ponds."

    For this I built in 1985, an 18" deep goldfish pond. It has a concrete collar which included the path, capped with crazy York stone.

    Which I converted to a straight sided 5ft deep 3000gall koi pool  in 1986. Liner secured between the York stone and the perimeter rocks.

    I closed and changed it to this, two years ago as the liner was leaking and would have required too much work to replace it,

    But I guess I'd had my money's worth from the liner as the guarantee was only 20 years.

    Butyl  is horrendously expensive now and possibly no longer the best option.

    But my advice about anchoring the rocks, should still be OK.

    I suggest you ring Pondkeeper, they are very helpful.

    Good luck with your project.

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,397
    edited October 2021
    Looking good @SeahorseFriend.  We've made two ponds in 25 years; the most recent is a largish wildlife pond made in Aug 2017.

    Pond plants have stopped growing now and won't be growing until next April/May so I don't think not being able to source them now will matter too much. You probably won't be able to buy oxygenators now anyway.  The ones you buy online are pretty small and I wouldn't risk spending the money this late in the year for small plants, which could be lost over the winter.  Having said that if you know anyone clearing out their pond and offers you good oxygenators (Hornwort or one of the native Milfoils are best) I would accept them as they will provide good places for invertebrates to hide. 

    What type of pond to you want?  Ornamental or wildlife or a bit of both?  The Wildlife Trusts and RSPB both have good lists for plants good for wildlife. We bought our liner from Bradshaws after recommendations by people on this forum. 

    Like you we ours is sited near a hedge and the finches and House Sparrows do come to drink from and bathe in the pond.  Here are pictures of our pond.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Does the tip about stretching the liner out in the sun apply to all types? I already have mine, it's a Flexiliner from
    I used Butyl in my last pond and I laid it out as best as I could for a couple of days - but that was summer so I had the chance of some sun and warmth.  It certainly made the Butyl a little more flexible but I haven't come  across Flexiliner which I am guessing is slightly more malleable and therefore a bit easier to lay cold so to speak?
    Just as an aside, as Frog has been looking at  your new pond, I'd make sure you check all the little dips and creases in your blanket/carpet before you fit the liner just in case it has decided to have a nap in there. We're getting towards that time of year and the weather forecasters are suggesting a cold spell by end of week.
    Most aquatic plants will be thinking about shutting down at this time and it will take a couple of years to get the balance right in a new pond anyway.  There are some good online suppliers which are worth considering but their plants won't look much at the moment. 
    Look towards March/April for buying the plants - you will have had 6 months or so from filling your pond to have an idea what you need/want. 
    Good luck with it - a pond can make such a huge difference to your enjoyment of the garden :)
  • Doghouse RileyDoghouse Riley Posts: 347
    edited October 2021
    I agree about  frogs hiding in the folds of liners, we got them overwintering in those in the corners of our koi pool. I didn't mind as they did no harm. Frogs are a good "barometer" of pool water quality. They absorb stuff via osmosis so are susceptible to contamination.
    If your pond has frogs, the water quality should be OK.
  • Thanks, @Redwing - I don't know why pictures of other people's ponds are so endlessly fascinating, but I could look at them for hours! Yours is a beauty and so are the surroundings!

    This pond is going to be purely for wildlife - no fish. I'm planning to build a rockery and let the grass go wild on the bank next to the hedge, for wildlife to hide in. 

    Hi @philipasmith2, thanks for your tip about the carpet. I have already been surprised by the frog a few times this year under loose-fitting patio slabs or behind the compost bin - it's a rover (unless there are more than one!)
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,260
    @SeahorseFriend - I'd agree with @philippasmith2 - it isn't the best time of year for getting plants, but it's a good time for prepping the area and getting the liner  in and filling it.  You can see how well it settles over winter, and do any adjustments etc. too, and look at your general planting, both in and out.
    Spring is a good time to get plants - and they'll take well and grow on quite quickly. 
    Puddleplants is a very good source, and I've also used Waterside Nursery. Both are reliable, and many people on the forum have used them.
    I used Devon Pond Plants earlier this year, as I decided on a whim to remove the back lawn and relocate the pond, making it bigger, so I needed a few more plants for it. Everything has settled very well, and all the plants were healthy.  :)
    Good luck with it - you'll have lots of enjoyment from it. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • borgadrborgadr Posts: 628
    I also wouldn't worry about oxygenators right now.  I restored a neglected pond (much smaller than yours) when I moved in here last year.  I chucked in a load of hornwort (a native oxygenating plant) in mid-October and it sat there and did nothing for 6 months. I thought it must have died, until mid-spring when it reappeared and started growing.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,260
    Yes - Hornwort is an excellent oxygenator, but, like many pond plants, it appears at specific times.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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