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?