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Wildlife Pond Advice...?

Morning all! 

I am thinking of building a wildlife pond in the garden - mainly as an educational project for the kids but, of course, also to provide a helping hand for the the local flora and fauna. It can't be big, I was going to use one of the small preformed liners available on line. My main concern is that I have no power to the garden so therefore, no pump or filtration. We don't want fish, just a proper self sufficient wildlife pond. Am I  setting myself up for loads of trouble of will this work....?? Your advice would be very much appreciated. xx



  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,134

    We bought a pre formed on last year, nearly had a divorce over digging the hole for it, you have to get every contour spot on, we ditched that for a liner, so easy because whatever you dig, the liner takes the shape.

    If you only want a wildlife pond you're not to have pumps and so on, it needs to be still and peaceful. 

    Aim to get about 2ft at the deepest in the middle then make flowerpot width steps all the way up to the top, then you can buy plants accordingly.

    use rain water to fill or else you will wait for ages for the green to go away, also better for the little creatures that will come.

    We dug ours late summer last year, it has tadpoles, newts, pond skaters, water boatmen, dragon fly larvae and several other little beetles of all colours and sizes. Several different size and shape of snail as well. I dont know where it all came from, but its there!

    Have a look on the Bradshaws web site for long lasting guaranteed liner and underlay.

    If you dont use pump and filters etc, you can have a water lily in there, they love still waters.

    Please ask any questions you like, however trivial they may sound, a lot of us have recently made ponds and its lovely to share tips and other info.

    Edited to ad link 

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • MarkNMarkN Posts: 17

    Hi Pumpernickle,

    Lyn's pretty well nailed it there! We have wildlife pond, no pumps and it's a thriving pond (pictured in my avatar). There's never a truer saying than 'build it and they will come'. It'll definately be educational and it's really interesting. Seeing water snail gliding along the bottom amongst tadpoles - it's like another world.

    Good luck!



  • wishbonewishbone Posts: 44

    Hi All

    We built a miniature pond last summer from a recycled plastic barrel that had contained car wash soap and we only paid a tenner for it from the car wash. We had to dig a deep hole but the depth ensures a safe haven overwinter for little creatures even though the space it takes up is tiny. We finished off the edges with rocks and made a couple of brackets from some waste aluminium to hang over the edge to support baskets for pond plants at different depths (Starwort, Pontederia, and Mimulus). We primed it with a bucket full of pond water from a local natural pond after filling it with rainwater from our waterbutts. We were overjoyed this Spring to find not only a frog, but a pair of newts, 3 sticklebacks and several water snails living happily in it. Making a pond is fun, though hard work and beneficial to both wildlife and children and doesn`t have to cost much, so do have a go and enjoy it. Good luck!

  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,961

    Siting the pond in semi shade (by a fence) is a good idea if it's small, but keep it away from trees (leaves will clog it up in no time). I would buy a bigger pond than needed, and use the extra size to help disguise the liner - using large stones to make a mini drystone wall within the pond, and then backfilling with soil behind to create planting pockets. Wildlife will love the cool crevices between the rocks and they will provide easy access to/from the water. NB any soil in contact with the pond should be low fertility - subsoil/gravel mixed together, or special aqautic compost.

  • darren636darren636 Posts: 666
    You don't need a pump or filter- the plants will be able to cope with the low bioload..

    You will need rainwater or tap water that has been dechlorinated- a few pounds for a small bottle of dechlorinator from your local garden centre or maidenhead aquatics.

    Aim for 50cm depth of water.

    Stock native plants.

    And it will be brimming with life in a matter of weeks.

    Check out. Puddleplants online for young plants and great advice on how to grow them.
  • Brilliant - thanks guys. It's amazing how much wildlife you have all mated to attract - feeling fired up now!! xxx

  • debs20debs20 Posts: 39

    I'm fired up too...but...I can't avoid tree's unfortunately. Could I build a frame with netting to cover it during Autumn or is this inadequate? full sun no good for pondlife?... because of the trees shady areas are all root-bound and very difficult to dig. The only sunny root-free (ish) area is earmarked for a greenhouse and veggie patch.

  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,961

    Full sun is fine, but a very small pond may dry out faster and become a bit warm in the daytime. The bigger the pond the less of a problem this is. With the leaves you could use netting or just clear them out yourself.

  • debs20debs20 Posts: 39

    Was thinking of maybe 2-3 m x 2m or so, with a "beach" etc for the critters and having decking overhanging so I could sit and watch any activity. Not looking forward to digging it out tho'...image

    Just thinking...I could plant some tall plants on the south side to create shade?...or will the sun be too high in the sky for this to be effective? 

  • OnopordumOnopordum Posts: 390

    2' deep is too deep for a small pond. 12" to 15" maximum would be better, with much of the area shallower. Try to make the area as large as you can though, space allowing, ideally with a lot of gently sloping or stepped marginal areas. A layer of play sand is good for the shallower areas, for plants to root into and to provide some protection for the liner.

    Some of the advantages of a shallow pond are that the water will be better oxygenated (O2 diffuses in from the air), there are far more species that live around the shallow edges (i.e. a few mm to a few inches deep), and you can easily see the wildlife on the bottom. It's also a lot less digging, and requires less liner so cheaper.

    I'd avoid lilies as well - Potamogeton natans is a much better native floating-leaved plant and supports a number of interesting insects (e.g. China-mark Moth and Reed Beetles). Lilies have a tendency to take over and crowd out everything else (their flowers are of no interest at all to the pondlife). Likewise Irises, which are also too vigorous, take over and provide poor habitat.

    For viewing, a paving slab or two next to the edge (for standing/sitting/kneeling/lying on) would be better than decking - the interesting action is often right at the edge, not out in the middle.

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