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Planting a large Wildlife Pond


I have recently filled a big space in my garden with a large pond (30m x 12m). It has a shelf all around about 0.5m deep and the pond is a maximum of 1.5m deep. One end of the pond is much shallower (sloping gently to 0.5m) to create a bog garden effect (pic below as it was filling ). I have just realised what a huge pond I have created as I look at planting it up. It is 300,000 litres I think.

The aim is to create a wildlife pond and to plant accordingly. Fish are not the primary aim but it would be nice to have some. The aim is for a low maintenance , self-aerating, balanced pond that attracts insects, amphibians, birds, animals etc etc

I would now like to get the pond planted and wondered if people had recommendations for suitable native plants that were cost effective for aeration and pond cover and where to source them. I think I would be happy for the plants to grow into the pond over a season or two to keep costs sensible and maybe to adopt a phased approach.

As you may gather this is a longer term project and I aim to be learning as I go along ...but having fun as well!

All advice welcomed!




  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 35,490

    Wow Hampshire Steve. You don't do things by halves do you? image This will be beautiful in time. You will be able to get a wealth of information from any Garden Centre that also has an aquatic section and another good source - and I think they are nationwide are the Maidenhead Aquatics outlets. Pick their brains for useful plants and then research auction sites to see if you can pick up anything cheaper. At this time of year oxygenators flourish. A few you can look at are callitriche palustris, hornwort, frogbit, myriophyllum, water violet, water mint and water forget me not. A pond your size could probably cope with canadian pondweed but it can be overwhelming in small ponds. If you want to keep the pond as a wildlife sanctuary then please don't put any fish in as they will decimate the wildlife.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    that's not a pond....its a small lake!!!

    if its for wildlife then try and stick to natives, or domesticated versions of natives. you can however add some non native but be careful - stuff like skunk cabbage are on the edge of being banned due to the invasiveness of the growth habits and stuff like parrot feather ARE banned, despite still seeing them on sale in less reputable growing establishments!

    try and get some mud from the bottom of an established wildlife pond as it'll have all the microbes and beasties you'll want in your pond.

    small fish are fine (sticklebacks/minnows etc.) for a wildlife pond, goldfish or koi will eat everything.

    make sure any plant you are planning on getting are researched, don't get flag iris or bulrush (Typha) as they'll take over in a matter of a couple of years

  • darren636darren636 Posts: 666

    Leave the fish out of it, you'll have much more diversity without them.

    I recommend puddle plants,

    Small plants that will grow this season 

    You'll want some big deep water plants, such As

     nuphar luteum, nymphaea alba, and the non native aponogeton distachyos- all good for surface foliage and flowers for insects.

    Starwort and hornwort - native oxygenators.

    Caltha palustris, mentha aquatica, forget me nots, watercress, botumus umbellatus, acorus calamus, iris pseudocorus for the margins.

    And around the edges, veronica beccabunga, baldelia ranunculoides

  • WateryWatery Posts: 388

    Puddleplants are a good online supplier, although not cheap.  But pond things will grow quickly.  If you want something cheap, get a bag of watercress from the supermarket and throw it in. (Better to put it in a basket).  It will root and take off.   I'm jealous.  All I have is a bathtub for a pond.

    Hornwort is very easy for an oxygenator.

    Purple Loosestrife is a nice tall plant that will bloom later in the year. 

     Pond plants are pretty easy to divide as well.  

    I think all my snails etc came as eggs on plants from Puddleplants.  Other insects colonized naturally. 

    Have fun with it. 

  • Wow, that's a lake not a pond!

    You might find that you attract ducks and moorhens to a pond that size. We have both and between them and the Canada geese they eat most of what we plant in and around the pond image

    As mentioned above, Puddleplants are good, and goldfish definitely not image Also you might have to keep the leaves falling from the overhanging trees in Autumn down to a minimum if possible.

    Last edited: 17 May 2016 17:45:04

  • Hi Guys

    Thanks for all the help and tips. I think what I am taking is that goldfish and Koi are a no no ...but I could stick in some sticklebacks and minnows without problems? That would be fine by me.

    Be nice to have some fish in a wildlife pond ....must be a better balance?

    NB I got the idea from a wonderful series of videos on Youtube of a guy building a large pond at a school in the North East - he had some great ideas to attract all kinds of creatures but didn't mention too much about plants. (At least I thought it was a big pond - I seem to have ended up with a bigger one!)

    I will try to post some pictures as the pond (lake  :-) ) develops.


    PS Are the falling leaves a major issue  - I'd have expected a natural pond to accumulate quite a lot of leaves? - if so I may have to plan how to stop them

  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,255

    Steve, i'd love to see some more photos of your pond, it looks amazing.

  • plant pauperplant pauper Posts: 6,234

    The leaves will be an issue when they start to rot and mess up your chemical balances. Be aware too that although it is indeed a mighty pond it's not that deep and will heat up considerably in  the warm weather. Mines 1.5m deep and it's only 20 x35 ft Your fish will poach! 

    Guy next to me has a pond similar in size to yours but 8ft deep for fishing. He's some kind of world champeeeen!

    Makes mine look like a puddle and I think it's enormous! image

    Last edited: 17 May 2016 19:59:55

  • Yes, love to see some more pics..........image

    The leaves when they decay in the water can cause it to stagnate, so netting could be a solution?

    Sticklebacks are very interesting, especially in the breeding season, if you can get to see them nest building and looking after the eggs......we had a large wildlife pond in our garden in Hampshire and they did very well there - sadly I have heard that it was filled in by the new owners image

    BTW you didn't dig the pond out by hand, did you?

  • No didn't dig by hand ...employed the services of a 1.5 tonne digger  :-)   ...ground was also quite nicely contoured

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