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Garden biodiversityParticipant diaries

How NOT to build a wildlife pond

By 8th April 20202 Comments

A pond is one of the single best features for attracting new wildlife into your garden. Like most jobs it requires some forethought – not my forte! So, if we learn by our mistakes, here’s my guide on how not to build a pond.

Step 1: buy a pond liner, put it in the garage and forget about it for 3 years. Occasionally, during half-hearted clear outs of the garage, pick up the liner, look at it, turn it over, get distracted, go and have a cup of tea. Let the years pass until one day, the planets align and you purposefully take the liner out from its dark corner.

Step 2: wander round the garden, humming and hawing, about where the best place to put the pond is. Start to clear a space, at the back of the garden overshadowed by a tree and then, decide to look at the instructions given with the pond liner. It says, do not make your pond under a tree. Hum and haw some more.

Step 3: dig the pond and then realise there is a lot of soil, in fact, a surprisingly amount of soil that has to go somewhere. Look frantically round the garden and breathe a sigh of relief when you realise the raised beds need topping up with earth. Some of the soil you use to make a bank at one side of the pond.

Step 4: finish digging the pond, congratulate yourself, then realise you haven’t opened the pond liner – or read the dimensions of it. Panic that the liner will be too small for the pond you’ve just dug out. You put the liner in the hole and it fits. Phew!

Step 5: fill the liner with water and leave overnight to settle. Ideally, the pond should be filled with rain water. Note to self: next garden project should be organising a rain gathering system. Note to self: this summer; not in 3 years’ time.

Step 6: your pond looks very bare. Hadn’t thought about this; too busy just building it. Decide to split some water plants which are already growing in 2 old Belfast sinks and trust they will do well in their new location. These include: slender-tufted sedge grass (Carex acuta); creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia); water lily (Nymphaea alba); lesser spearwort (Ranunculus flammula).

Step 7: Look at Pondkeeper Spring Catalogue. Lovely pictures of fountains, underwater lights, cascades, fish viewing tower, koi. Remember you are building a wildlife pond and not the Tivoli gardens. Have faith in nature. Look at the pond every day and see how it develops.

If you want a more professional set of instructions for making a wildlife pond in your garden look up the following sites:


I grew up on a farm in the NE of Scotland so have always had a close affinity to land and growing my own food. As a family we ate only what was in season and preserved fruit and vegetables if there was a glut. I am still passionate about cutting air miles on the food I eat. I’m lucky to live close to the Tayport Community Garden and pop in regularly for advice and produce.


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