Saving the Planet One Pond at a Time

I’ve wanted a pond in the garden for a while now, and after a quick afternoon’s digging in the rain-softened clay with assistance from my son, who likes to dig, we now have one. It’s small, very small, but at 2m by 1m it just about officially qualifies as a pond. It’s located in the east-facing border which skirts the side of our house, and is I hope far enough from the big mature trees along the back wall to avoid the worst of the leaf fall.

It was easy to create, and free! We just used what we had to hand – large compost bags cut into sheets, four of them layered one over the other over the hole we dug, to give added strength. It doesn’t have to last forever, this is just an experiment. We’ve had a wet week and so plenty of rainwater was available to fill the pond.

If you feel you don’t need a pond in your garden, just read this book by bumblebee expert and scientist Dave Goulson (big thanks to Gill at Off the Edge Gardening for the recommendation), and prepare to have your mind changed. His chapter on ponds in this engaging and interesting exploration of garden wildlife explains how garden ponds have come to replace rural ones as a refuge for wildlife. In the U.K., 70% of rural ponds have been lost since 1890, and the majority of those that remain are polluted by a nasty blend of pesticides and herbicides from agricultural run-off, or by salty run-off from roads. It’s likely to be the same story in other parts of the world. How sad. So although garden ponds are small, or minuscule in our case, there are lots of them, and so they provide a network of vital habitats for wildlife. Gardeners are saving the planet, once again!

Next up, a trip to the garden centre for some aquatic plants, oh yes, the best bit, new plants to get to know. Here we had to part with a bit of cash but not much: the pond is small, after all.

We bought: a white dwarf water lily (Nymphaea pygmaea ‘Alba’), flag iris (Iris pseudacorus), hedge hyssop (Gratiola officinalis) and creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) to line the edge. Apart from the water lily, the plants are European natives so they should be to the liking of the local wildlife.

The first mosquito has already paid a visit, not so sure that’s a good sign but everything is balance, or at least food for frogs who I hope will visit this cosy new abode. Do you have a pond? Any advice on maintaining it to keep it healthy? And what’s your favourite pond creature?

24 thoughts on “Saving the Planet One Pond at a Time

  1. I don’t have one, but I have been thinking about one for a couple of years. I like the natural look with lots of pebbles/cobblestones and I don’t really want it to be full of frogspawn! (OH dislikes frogs). I have a very small space which I think probably was a pond at one time as the planting there was so very much bog plants (wild mint, iris pseudacorus, Japanese anemone, Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum). I say was because I pulled most of them out last year, they were getting very large! And the iris annoyed me as it has very large leaves and gets untidy. My current idea is to reuse the Belfast sink. Seal the plug hole and get my son to help move it into this space next time he visits. Plant a dwarf waterlily and some oxygenating plants and have some steps for creatures to get in and out. I look forward to seeing how yours progresses.

    1. No doubt the iris will be far too big for my pond soon…might have to transfer it to a bigger pond in the area! The sink idea sounds great, I think any body of water is a plus for wildlife. You could even make it into a hoverfly lagoon, something Dave Goulson is keen on promoting, but you’d need to be OK with the weird-looking larvae, not sure how your OH would feel about that!

      1. He doesn’t spend that much time in the garden so he’d probably not even notice – but frogs can come inside.

  2. Your pond looks amazing! I have recently created a little pond too. It’s a barrel pond. It’s only been there a couple of weeks but I love it.

    Thanks for the book recommendation too I will definitely have a look for that one.

  3. I don’t have a pond either, but my three large watering trays do qualify on one level! Over the past two weeks I’ve noticed plenty insect activity!

    1. Thanks, I hope everything settles in well, it’s quite fun to be gardening in water for a change. A puddle can be a home too – Dave Goulson, author of the Garden Jungle, suggests filling a small plastic container with water, grass clippings and a few sticks to make a hoverfly lagoon.

  4. “The first mosquito” as an ominous undertone. I’d love to have a pond in my garden, but the realtive lack of mosquitoes, in comparison to my natal Canada, is a big attraction to Brussels for me.

    1. The first mosquito came and went, and so far so good. A good wildlife pond will create a natural balance, so hopefully the mosquito predators will also thrive. I’d say go for it – if it doesn’t work out, you can always fill it in, if it does work out, you’ll probably get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

  5. We don’t have a pond, just a little bird bath. I feel deprived without a pond, perhaps this will motivate me. Digging is a problem due to the abundance of tree roots but maybe we could try an above-ground pond as in a half-barrel.

    1. I felt exactly the same way when we only had the bird bath, having a pond is so much more exciting and offers more possibilities for wildlife (and gardening). The half barrel option sounds good, they look nice too, but as we’ve got soft clay it seemed easier to just dig a hole in the ground.

  6. What a wonderful pond you both created in your garden. Let’s hope it has a positif influence on wildlife in the garden. Lots of succes with it Sel 🙂

  7. I really love your pond I have done a barrel but naughty seagull started having a dip and ruining every thing so put a wire on top . It does need a lily.

  8. A lovely idea. We have thought about making one, but mosquitoes are a problem here so we are still undecided. We have plenty of creatures that would like it though as a little stream is only a stone’s throw beyond our garden fence. Hope you get some frogs visiting soon!

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