Building a wildlife pond March 2023 to help improve the biodiversity of my Sussex garden.

When starting out on a project like this it is important to do as much research as you can. As you can see, I have a small back garden though I get quite a lot of wildlife: garden birds, small reptiles the odd amphibian and a rat which scratches around for scraps under the birdfeeders.

According to the experts a sunny position is important.

The area I chose has been planted heavily over the years so I had to clear it of plants, rocks and wildlife. I marked the area with twine and metal garden stakes .This was a mistake; buy a can of marker paint from a DIY shop. The young smooth newt in the picture was rescued and placed under a plant and pot.

Once you’ve marked out your pond you can start digging. The topsoil you dig out can be placed on your borders. I saved the turf to use elsewhere in the garden. The topsoil should not be used in the pond as it is too rich and will cause problems. .Only the subsoil should be used.

When doing my research I read that you can tell the difference between subsoil and topsoil by the colour. As you can see by the picture below, the deeper you dig, the soil changes colour; the light soil is subsoil. However the subsoil proved to be unsuitable. I ended up buying subsoil from a company for £107 including delivery and it was worth it.

I dug down to 3ft (91cm). On reflection it was too shallow. The shelf around the edge needed to be a little deeper as well. Don’t rush it; this is the most important part.

So having made these errors, I ploughed on.

The next thing to do is to buy the pond lining, heavy duty fleece and some boulders for the deepest part of the pond to prevent mud sliding into it. Measure the pond length width and depth so that you can calculate how much lining you need. I sourced mine from a pond specialist who calculated how much I would need. The cost is £350 depending on thickness of lining. Tick.

Lay out the fleece with a generous overlap. Tick.

The research I had done previously suggested two layers of fleece to make a kind of sponge cake.

As above, once you’ve laid the first layer of fleece, add the pond liner, followed by another layer of fleece for added protection Then add the inner wall to the deepest part or “well” of the pond, adding subsoil to help the rocks settle.

Add a layer of subsoil to the bottom of the pond for the plants.

This is where you start to worry about the depth. You don’t want to go back on yourself. Place the hose in a bucket to stop clouding and soil dispersal.

It starts to get exciting now as you can add the water. Rain water is advised but unrealistic. The weight of the water will pull the liner in tight against the sides of the pond.DO NOT CUT TO SIZE UNTIL POND HAS FILLED.

As you can see above, place your rocks and pebbles around the pond to create areas for wildlife to drink and get shelter.

Add pond plants and trim the rest of the pond, making sure grass can’t draw up water from the pond. This is called wicking. Add subsoil to cover the edge of the pond.

Try to make the pond look as natural as possible. Use Native plants; I brought a starter pack for £75. Marginals are to be added. The area around the birdbath has been sown with wildflower seeds.

The reason for this post is to try to encourage people to build a pond .If I can do it anyone can .There are plenty of videos out there to watch that will give you a step by step guide to building a pond. Good luck .I really enjoyed this project despite the weather.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.