The Wokingham Paper

The wildlife water garden

Picture from Wikimedia Commons

It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to ensure wildlife can flourish in your garden, you just need to be aware of what creatures need so that you can enjoy your garden alongside the birds, butterflies and bees.

In addition to growing pollinator friendly plants, encouraging birds with feeders and tempting other wildlife through log and leaf piles (so don’t tidy up too much), at the heart of any wildlife garden sits a pond or small water feature.

All animals need water to thrive and a small wildlife-friendly garden pond can make a huge difference to your garden’s biodiversity.

Many people overestimate the effort and expertise required to fulfil the dream of a garden pond. Preformed ponds – that come in a variety of shapes and sizes – simplify the construction process and are perfect for the less experienced gardener or landscaper.

Experts from Oase UK, specialists in water gardening, have come up with a simple nine-point plan for easy installation of a pond – an autumn project that the whole family can help with.

First, you need to think about location. Try and find somewhere that is as clear as possible from overhanging trees to avoid leaves dropping into the pond.

If you want to keep fish, to create the right environment, your pond will also need to have sunshine for four to six hours a day.

You need the right tools for the job –a spade, a shovel, filling sand (play sand will do), a spirit level, a measure tape and a garden hose with a water connection and then it’s time to get started…

Position the preformed pond in the desired location and mark the outline with sand.

Then mark the different depth zones of the pond with sand.

Now you can dig out the individual zones of the garden pond.

Use the preformed pond to check you’ve dug enough out and touch up again if necessary.

Level out the unevenness in the excavated steps with filling sand to create flat surfaces.

Check the surfaces with a spirit level. If they are level the preformed pond can be inserted and then fill it one third with water so that the bowl settles.

Next, pour the filling sand under the edge of the preformed pond and fill this cavity with water. The water will slurry the sand to the edge of the pond shell. Repeat the process until the spaces under and next to the preformed bowl are filled.

Now level the surrounding soil with topsoil, which provides the basis for the subsequent planting. Make sure that no topsoil gets into the water as it will encourage algae growth in the pond.

You can now carry out planting – important to maintain the biological balance of your pond and look beautiful. The surround bank zone can be filled with large stones and gravel after planting to cover the transition to the preformed pond. The pond can then be filled with water and plants.

When choosing plants for ponds make sure you have a good mix of oxygenators – underwater plants that are essential in keeping algae at bay and are the most beneficial plants in any water feature eco-system – and ornamental plants that cover the surface of the water with their floating leaves and root at the bottomof the water.

As autumn gets under way there are a number of to do’s for gardeners in addition to pond installation, so here are some tips for this month from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society):

  • Cut back perennials that have died down.
  • Divide herbaceous perennials.
  • Move tender plants, including aquatic ones, into a greenhouse or conservatory.
  • Plant out spring cabbages.
  • Harvest apples, pears and nuts.
  • Prune climbing roses.
  • Finish collecting seeds from the garden to sow next year.
  • Last chance to mow lawns and trim hedges in mild areas.

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