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How to construct a wildlife garden pond

Did you know that in London around 90% of ponds have disappeared since the 1900’s?

This is mostly due to countryside making way for housing developments and industrial land.

Ponds are crucial to wildlife as they provide drinking water for birds, bats and small mammals. Pond plants provide pollen and nectar for insects. Amphibians (newts, frogs and toads) need ponds to breed. They eat slugs so may help to keep the slug population at bay.

If you are considering to install a pond in your garden, you will be pleased to know that it’s a fairly straightforward process! You may prefer to have a container pond using an old sink, a wooden barrel or wheelbarrow, or you may simply wish to dig a pond in to the ground. Consider smaller structures if children are part of your household and secure the pond accordingly.

How to approach building a pond:

1) Consider a beneficial place for the pond, preferably a sunny spot in your garden. Ponds don’t do well in the shade, however don’t want to have sun all day either.

2) Create a pond with gradual levels of depth starting at 45cm (18inch) with a maximum depth of 1m. Most of the pond plants thrive no deeper than that.

3) Dig a hole and consider that:

a. You need an area where the ground slops in to the pond for wildlife to have a way of getting in and out.

b. Pond plants live at different levels so need shelves around the edge for marginal plants (e.g. purple loosestrife, water spearmint, forget-me-not). You can use bricks to create shelves and steps for wildlife.

c. Ensure the top edge is level all the way round the pond. Use a stake and bridging timber as guidance.

4) Put down a protective pond liner underlay.

5) Put down a pond liner. Tri-laminate LDPE is non-toxic.

6) Fill up with water - the pond liner will take on the form and shape you dug out. You need non-chlorinated water – ideally rainwater. Chorine will kill the bacteria in water. You can buy a de-chlorinator from Amazon. Alternatively, you fill your pond and leave it for a few days before adding plants as the chlorine will evaporate.

7) Decide the kind of edging you want to use around the pond.

8) Plant the pond. Put plants into a pond basket (available from Merebrook pond plants) with holes so water can circulate. Use specialist aquatic compost.

9) Keep your pond healthy. EM mud balls are a good option (available from Harold Horticultural). Use once every 6 weeks.

10) Enjoy your pond!

Pond constructed in private garden of workshop attendee.

You can watch the video recording of the pond workshop with Susannah Hall and previous workshops on our YouTube channel Northwick Park Community Garden.


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