We are going to add a pond to our garden! A pond! I’m very excited about this, as you may have spotted. I don’t do gardening as such, but I take the Don Draper role in that I creative direct the process: put one of these there, add more purple plants, that kind of thing.
And while I love for our garden to look beautiful, which it does, for me the main goal is to encourage wildlife. So we have plenty of birdfeeders, a birdbath, shrubs that have berries on them, and parts of the garden that are left somewhat wild and untidy. We have two compost bins, and we don’t use pesticides, much to my father’s disappointment – he would love us to do something about our lawn, but for me the fact that it is made up of all sorts of clover and mosses and daisies is a much better thing than if it were grass alone.
We’ve had regular visits from foxes, and on warm evenings at dusk you can see bats flying around. For an all-too-brief period last year we had a hedgehog (who sadly has not been seen this year – we suspect a new fence that was put up two doors down may have blocked his route to our garden. I’m still looking out for him though, and it would make my year if he reappeared).
Even though we don’t (yet) have a pond, we occasionally see frogs, and I have a little ceramic house for them to shelter in. It’s tucked inside a flowerbed and there is greenery growing over it, so I like to think it’s a nice environment for them.
But we’ve decided we can do better, and so a pond is planned. There is a good spot for it go in, away from the sort of trees that will drop leaves into in, and with a good amount of sun reaching it. We read that wildlife ponds don’t need mechanical aeration in the way that fish ponds do, which is good news. We found some pre-formed pond shells that you can buy, and then you simply dig the right shape of hole and put the pond into to it. (When I say that you simply dig the hole, I expect there’s a lot more to it than that – but happily this bit of the project will not be falling to the creative director…)
Then you need plants, ideally native ones. I found a supplier online who does starter kits for ponds containing native species, and I think that’s what I’m going to order (they’ve won awards at the Chelsea Flower Show, an event that unfortunately passed me by this year).
Ideally a wildlife pond needs to be 40cm or deeper, but unfortunately the space we have available limits the pond size we can use, and the smaller pre-formed ponds are less deep than the larger ones. We could build our own pond, but the pre-formed ones are appealing to us (we’re new to this, and so don’t want to take on too much), and they have a couple of features that I think will be really useful. One is a wildlife ramp – a sort of sloping bit that provides an escape route for any animals who are unlucky enough to fall in. The other is the fact that the pre-formed ponds have several different levels within them, which is useful for planting on – some plants are better suited to the shallower part of the pond, while others float on the surface.
We hope to get everything ordered in the next two weeks, and then work can start. I’ll be taking plenty of pictures – I’ve already taken a few showing the spot the pond is going to go in. And if you’re thinking of creating a pond for wildlife, there is an excellent (and free) leaflet available on the Natural England website.