There are numerous reasons to have a pond in your garden. I’ve wanted one since I was a little boy, on Sunday I finally took the opportunity to dig a hole and have my own pond.
For me, there were a couple of reasons why I’ve wanted a pond, principle among them is that I love the idea of having more wildlife in the garden and close to home. I’m particularly keen to attract frogs, not just because they’re such interesting creatures but as a gardener, any natural help I can get with keeping the slug and snail population low, is greatly appreciated. A greedy slug has already devoured my Lupin ‘The Page’.
Digging the hole was relatively easy. The ground is fairly stony but the soil is loose and easy to shovel. I didn’t plan to have too deep a hole either so it didn’t require a great deal of effort to get the pond hole to the size I wanted. I did most of the digging the day before.
Getting pond lining was surprisingly difficult. I went to my local B&Q and was told I’d likely have to take a half hour drive to a much bigger B&Q. I also tried a Homebase and a Pets At Home before ending up at the large B&Q Extra in Greenwich. The pond liner was on the bottom shelf but there was no underlay, so I opted to use soft sand instead.
The soft sand is crucial. While I bought lining big enough to cover the pond hole four times over, I still wanted to avoid stones or any hard, sharp material from piercing through and causing a slow leak into the ground. The soft sand sits on the sides of the pond a bit like clay (that’s the best comparison I can think of but it’s not a great one. Do let me know if you think of something that’s a better comparable material). It’s easy to apply, right around the pond, and is worth applying a inch of two thick. Keep going until you can’t feel anything protruding with your hands.
The lining then went over the top of this sand layer. As I said earlier, the liner I bought was very large, though the smallest on the shelf at B&Q. Rather than cutting to size, I kept it folded, so that effectively, I had four layers of pond liner.
I then filled the pond with water. Unfortunately I don’t have a rain water collection barrel so went with tap water. With that being the case, I won’t be able to put any aquatic plants in the pond for at least two weeks. Tap water is too nutrient rich and full of unwanted chemicals. I’m not entirely sure what happens to the chemicals but Monty Don said two week would sort it so it must be true. It took four watering cans full of water to fill the pond. With it being such a dry summer, I don’t think it will likely rain enough to equate to four watering cans going into my pond.
So this is what the pond looked like. It’s fair to say it’s a bit of an ugly duckling. The hydrangea is helping by lending it some of its beauty but there’s no getting away from the fact that it looks like a large black bin liner that’s got a bit of a puddle in it. At this point, I stepped away for a while and had some lunch. Leftover curry from the night before.
I was happy to be a little patient and let the weight of the water force the pond liner down and against the hole. I had tried to create a bit of a shelf in the pond. This was so that there’s a bit of a level for different plants and a variation in habitat for wildlife. Seeing the water fill the hole revealed my first mistake.
When digging your pond, it’s worth checking that the ground around it is level. Otherwise, unbeknownst to your novice, blinkered and youthfully enthusiastic gardener, what can happen is that your pond shelf is not too much lower than the highest part of the opposite end of the pond. This was more apparent after lunch, when I started to try and tidy that pond. Blending it in to the garden and hiding the ugly pond liner. Water did start to leak out, spilling over the top and into the soil around. But hey, if it comes to it we’ll make that area into a bog patch.
I didn’t fully realise my dream. Yes, I have a pond, and I’m delighted. No, the work here is not done. I’m going to get some more stone around the edge. I’m going to get some lawn turf, to help hide the liner. I’m also going to get some alpines or plant that are happy to grow between rocks. I think that will go someway to making this pond the pond I’ve had visions about.
The day after I installed the pond, my fiancee said she spotted a butterfly near it and saw it fly around the trees. I’m going to take this as a sign that mother nature approves and will help make this pond beautiful.