Gardening, Guest Posts, Water Features

Many people who own a bit of land would love to build a pond on it. What could be more soothing than the sight of a body of water stocked with koi or other animal life or the sound of a pond with a little waterfall or fountain? What’s more beautiful than a pond ringed with or floating beautiful flowers? Then, when the person builds a pond the water is turbid, the fish die, the plants die. Essentially, they end up with a hole full of mud. What went wrong?

pond building mistakes

Poor Location

There are places on every property where a pond simply can’t be built because it either, interferes with the sewer drain or utility lines, or it’s not shaded properly. The pond should also not be built in a low spot because it will collect pollutants, flood during rainstorms and be hard to clean. Not only this, the location needs to have the right soil. It should not be sandy or gravelly because that sort of soil drains too quickly. Clay soil is ideal for a pond because it holds on to water.

Lack of Ledges

Ledges are needed for semi-aquatic plants whose roots need be submerged while the rest of them are above water. Ledges can even be resting places for frogs and basking places for turtles. Also, the gravel in a pond that’s dug without ledges will simply slide to the deepest part of the pond, and boulders will crowd the space.

Too Shallow

The water in a pond that’s too shallow will either become too hot, or evaporate out during the summer. In the winter, the water needs to be deep enough so the fish won’t freeze to death. If you have fish, a shallow pond can leave them more susceptible to predators.

Too Deep

A pond that’s too deep is hard to take care of, but it is better to have a pond that is deeper than the owner is comfortable with than one that is too shallow. If you are stocking your pond with fish, a pond that is too deep can hurt the population due to lack of oxygen.

pond lilies

The Wrong Stones/Lining

A natural looking pond should support rocks of several sizes. In the end, the pond owner should have a few tons of different sized rocks, from gravel to boulders. The pond liner has to be large enough to easily cover the area. Pond liners are expensive, but the owner’s best bet is to buy a bit more than they think they need.

Improper Filtration

Though there are some people who have ponds that do not need artificial filters, these ponds are a bit tricky to install and maintain. Chances are they are natural bodies of water anyway. Improper filtration leaves water dirty and unable to sustain the sort of life that the pond owner wants. It may only be able to sustain life such as algae and mosquitoes.

Underestimating the Labour

Anyone who has even planted a sapling in their landscape knows that it can be a job of work, especially if the soil is heavy. Excavating a pond is most likely not a job for one person if they wish to finish it in a reasonable amount of time. Renting a professional with a backhoe is always an option.

Building a pond may be a lot of work, but the end result is more than worth it. Especially if you can do it the right way, by planning ahead and being aware of potential oversights before they can occur. You will certainly enjoy your new water feature a lot more if aren’t worrying about mistakes you made during the build.

Drew BishopDrew Bishop is a contributing writer for Trophy Pond. In his spare time he enjoys camping and spending time on the lake.

Charlotte, Guest Posts, Ponds

Charlotte and son by pondWhen purchasing our new home, my husband and I had mixed feelings regarding the pond. It’s petite, measuring less than a metre in diameter; however our concerns were more significant in size. With two young children we were worried about the risk of drowning. My father had already filled in his large pond and although I share his concern I was reluctant to destroy this precious habitat. A body of water, no matter how small, is one of the best ways to support wildlife in the garden. As our pond is overgrown with iris roots it’s barely 2 inches deep and is surrounded with plants to deter children from venturing too close. Thus, it was permitted to remain intact. Obviously it remains a hazard, so youngsters are warned of the dangers and monitored around the water.

I had little idea how valuable this small pool would prove to be until one spring morning when my eye was drawn to something twinkling in it. Closer inspection revealed that during the night an amphibious visitor had gifted us a batch of frogspawn. I was so excited I almost fell in trying to get a better view.
Adult Frog in Pond
I called over my toddler who, whilst thrilled, seemed a little perplexed. As a biologist I’m fascinated by the creation of life and thus got a little carried away describing, in detail, the frog life cycle. Clearly this was too much for a two year old to comprehend but after some simplification we classified the new arrivals as ‘baby frog’s eggs’. The most baffling part was how the frogspawn had found its way into our pond since we’ve never seen a frog nearby. We clearly hadn’t looked closely enough. Careful removal of a few rocks revealed a beautiful adult specimen. I’m no expert so was unable to determine its’ sex but it I’d like to think it was the female who laid the batch, keeping watch over her brood.
Tiny tadpole from pond
Keen to use this exciting development as a learning opportunity, we spent the afternoon reading every frog-related book in the house and downloading illustrations of their life cycle. Since then we’ve monitored our ‘babies’ regularly, observing the changes, drawing them and discussing their development. We took care to ensure the pond did not dry out during this critical period, topping it up regularly from our water butt. It was wonderful to witness the minute black specks growing larger and taking on the characteristic tadpole form before finally hatching out. Once this significant step had been taken I could be found, almost daily, leaning precariously over the water, ‘fishing’ for tadpoles.
Tiny little frog on leaf
Containing the tadpoles briefly in a jamjar allowed us to observe their growth, progressively losing the tail and sprouting legs. Our weeks of surveillance came to fruition when one ‘fishing trip’ caught more than anticipated. I’m not sure who was more surprised when a miniscule froglet leapt from a lilypad into the pond! Gently scooping up the tiny but perfectly formed amphibian, I presented it to my children, whose faces lit up with delight.
Baby frog on hand
I’m amazed how many have survived adulthood in such a tiny pool. It’s proof that even a small body of water can attract and support wildlife in the garden. I’m delighted we took the decision to retain our pond as it’s proved beneficial not only to the resident amphibians, but also to my family, who’ve gained great pleasure and knowledge from it. We anticipate more exciting experiences next spring, as the circle of life continues, and hopefully our little froglets return to spawn the next generation.

– Charlotte

Greenhouses, Guest Posts, Jackie, Water Features

A New Greenhouse, and an Edwardian Greenhouse Water Feature

Jackie's Greenhouse in GardenMy garden seems to belong to two eras: before and after the hurricane. Before the hurricane, I had a wonderful greenhouse. Twenty or so feet long and 15 feet wide (I sorry, but I belong to the pre-decimal era). It had a two foot, L-shaped raised bed, an inside water tank, electric light, and staging and it was made out of wood. The hurricane took the wood and glass off somewhere… What with children, parish council, and other commitments it never got replaced – until last year that is.
Jackie's Greenhouse
After two years of growing outdoor tomatoes and more half-hardy fuchsias than I could
accommodate indoors, it was time to reassess the situation. I’d saved a bit of money, so spent a few weeks drinking tea with friends who had greenhouses and inspecting theirs. Choosing the right greenhouse can be tricky: Aluminium or wood, and what size?

Surfing online for greenhouse providers, it soon became clear that what I needed was a wooden one. Price for price there wasn’t much in it, but the bonus of the wooden frame was that two very nice men came and erected it. Wood is easier to knock in nails or cup hooks too. Yes, these are important so that there’s something to fix tomato canes to, especially if grow bags are used.
Inside Jackie's Greenhouse
All I had to do is convince my husband to build a good solid base, just a bit bigger than the
greenhouse. The one I chose was 6 foot by 10 foot – mainly because I couldn’t afford a larger one.

We sited it with the door facing west – just because that was the way I would be approaching it –
on a good clear patch of the old orchard. I would have preferred to have the water butt at the front, but apparently the design meant that the guttering fell towards the back. The water butt is 125La larger one would have been much better.
Pond and Greenhouse
The greenhouse was in place by mid-September and, just before the frosts, it was not only packed to capacity with my fuchsias, but I also bought a couple of rolls of bubble wrap and fixed that to the inside with drawing pins – easy when it’s a wooden frame.
Jackie's new Waterfall water feature
But what has happened to the base of the old greenhouse? It’s still there. The raised bed has been dug out and lined. It is now filled with water and forms the top part of a waterfall acting as a filter for all the silt that gathers in the main pond. It has worked well, especially as I found an old quern stone as an outflow for the pumped water.

A raised bed sits in front to hide the rather ugly breeze blocks and there are a couple of water lilies gracing the water. Behind sits the oil tank, disguised by a reed screen up which grow clematis and roses. The water tumbles down over a waterfall into a larger pond inhabited by the few koi that have escaped the heron. It’s a fairly large pond of around 22,000 gallons and 4 foot deep with a ledge around part. The plan was to grow marginals – silly idea if one has koi, as they ate them!

Jackie

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