In our last blog we covered the hard landscaping of the pond. This blog will cover the completion of the pond and marginal landscaping.
Once we picked up the pond liner and other bits and pieces our next task was to empty the remaining water from the bottom of the pond. There was a reason for this. We knew that we had both newts and a frog in the bottom of the pond. We also knew there were lots of pond insects mixed in there too. We also knew that in the gunge at bottom of the pond there may be other valuable wildlife such as caddis fly larvae etc, so, out came the buckets and the whole lot got emptied into a trugg for temporary safe keeping.
The pond liner we bought when we first did the pond several years ago was quite difficult to fit. We deliberately chose a good quality one at the time, but it was really awkward to work with. And, it was plastic. This time we purchased an eco rubber liner. I fully expected to take all afternoon trying to fight with it to get it to lie into the ledges correctly. It was beautiful to work with, really flexible and moulded into the ledges really well. I think I finished the whole thing in less than an hour.
At the same time as picking up the liner we also picked up a couple of water lilies as these had to be positioned at the bottom of the pond. We had loads of underlay left over so we placed the lilies on these. Now, we had to return the pond residents to their rightful home. Once all this had been done we could sit back and relax and not worry about the rain headed our way – after all, it would help fill the pond for us. Hmmmph, the rain did come, according to my rain gauge all 0.3mm of it.
Before we started this project we had taken some of the marginal, and pond plants out, potted them up and kept them well watered. We planted up the pond plants and positioned them in the pond. As we had some old radiator bricks in the garden we placed them on pieces of underlay and used them as a level surface for the pots. Now, we could start filling up the pond.
We had already taken the decision that we would fill up the pond layer by layer. This would allow the liner to settle nicely into the pond, and would give us time to check that each layer of planting was looking as we expected. As this was to be a pond mainly for wildlife I hadn’t intended introducing a pump, especially as I didn’t want to have to cable electricity back to the house. However, I did have concerns that if the water was stagnant we would get blue green algae growth, which we had for a couple of years the last time we attempted a pond until the pH levels evened out. When we were picking up our liner we were asked if we had thought of a solar powered pump to give some water circulation. So, on a later visit to pick up oxygenators we also bought a small solar powered pump.
We also knew that the side of the pond nearest to the fence and the end which would be nearest to the patio would be slightly steeper than we would like, and would cause problems when we came to placing the gravel. We suspected the gravel would not sit properly. You may have seen plastic gravel containers at the garden centre – these are designed to keep gravel contained in a path etc. Well, they are really easy to cut, so we got a pack, cut them to size, placed them on underlay and then filled them with gravel. This would make it much easier to achieve an impression of the gravel dipping under the water edge without losing all the gravel.
While it was really tempting to continue with the pond, we were also aware that before we could finish the pond we would have to complete the height of the overflow to the drainage ditch. That meant completing the marginal area between the pond and the back garden fence. So, these were dug over, shrubs planted and weed suppressing membrane laid. Now, we could tie the marginal area and pond together using the gravel. We were really pleased at how well we were able to integrate the gravel using the plastic holders. They worked as we had intended. This allowed us to continue to fill the pond. Once we reached the correct height of the pond we made very small alterations to the overflow channel so that any further water would drain away into the drainage ditch rather than keep filling up the pond.
As mentioned earlier, we had intended designing this as a dried river bed. We decided that we would achieve this effect by making it look as if it was a rock strewn area, with cobbles and slightly different coloured gravel. We also decided that we would have the dried river bed at both sides of the pond.
We gradually worked round the pond, bedding down the setts, laying weed suppressing membrane and gravelling each area. However, once we came to the back of the pond we made the decision to stop at that stage, and to lay the path and patio. Once we had this completed we would be able to finish laying the setts and then complete the pond.
The patio area was completed really quickly. Now, we knew its exact location we were able to complete the landscaping between the patio and the pond. This was to be home to several primulas that had been rescued from the pond area at the end of last year. We now had a final home for the solar panel to the pond. This meant that we could finalise all the gravel at the pond edge.
The final planting of further marginals and primulas and the inclusion of two potted grasses, and a piece of gnarled wood made up the final touches to the pond project.
You will have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Willow our Labrador, and supervisor, on this part of the project. Well, that’s because she said she was far too busy so contracted out the supervision to a robin. What was her other more important task …… SLEEPING ON THE JOB!
Next project, it will be the area between the patio/pond area and the fence between us and our neighbours.