One day in April 2019, I decided to build a pond. I’d just dug out a huge, thirsty New Zealand flax plant and needed something to put in its place. I like things to happen quickly and easily and so, after minimal research I realised that digging and lining a pond from scratch was not for me. Instead, I went online and ordered a rigid pond liner. This is basically a black, plastic pond-shaped container, roughly 90cm x 60cm (cost then around £17).
A few days later it arrived. I dug a hole, stuck the container in and backfilled the gaps round the edges with soil. Next up I needed water. Tap water according to all websites is a no-no — too many chemicals — so was I going to have to wait until it rained?? Luckily, I live on a friendly, helpful street, so after a call out to my neighbours, I was soon helping myself to the water from a nearby rain butt. I added some rocks, a log or two and bingo! my pond was ready for action.
I did need some water plants, though. Back to the internet, and I found a helpful website called www.puddleplants.co.uk. I ordered myself the Frog and Tadpole plant collection (cost around £55), along with gravel and baskets. This consisted of the following:
- 1 x oxygenator: Willow moss
- 7 x marginal plants: Marsh marigold, brooklime, lesser spearwort, forget-me-not, water mint, bog bean and yellow flag
- 1 x deep water: fringe lily
I planted these up (i.e. put them in the baskets and stuck them in the pond). It looked a bit crowded now, but quite promising. Then I sat back and waited for the wildlife to appear.
After a week, we spotted a frog! An actual frog, already! We called her Spot. How had she got there? We don’t know. We made her feel very welcome.
Over the next months the plants grew. Very soon finding Spot became a real challenge. In fact, finding the pond itself became quite a challenge as the plants thrived and spread and flowered. Soon the pond looked quite established. When it rained, I enjoyed watching the pond fill up and the drops bouncing on the surface (what surface remained visible, that is). When it didn’t rain, I enjoyed contemplating its fresh green coolness. The water remained clear rather than cloudy — thanks, I assume to the selection of plants.
Now, nearly three years on, I wouldn’t be without my pond. We cleared out the pond last year to cut back some plants, and discovered a newt! Spot (at least, we think it’s Spot) has resurfaced every year, and last year was joined by some tadpoles the girls had ‘rescued’. We’ve also seen snails, a dragonfly and have enjoyed watching birds drinking and splashing in its water.
The arrival of a spaniel puppy in our lives has posed the biggest threat to the pond’s existence. She took against the mesh plant baskets and devoted a lot of time to yanking them out and chewing them to a pulp, casting aside the plant in the process. I became used to seeing dried out plants languishing on the grass. We’ve now fenced off the pond area which is a shame but necessary at this stage in our puppy’s life.
So what would I do differently? Not much, really — I’m delighted with the manifold returns for pretty little effort. I think I ordered too many plants; I’d have been better off just asking their advice for two or three essential plants. I think I should also have dug a deeper hole to embed it better. I’d quite like a little fountain, now. I also kind of wish I’d ordered a bigger pond — maybe digging a proper, permanent lined one will be this year’s project.