Garden Ponds

Garden ponds bring so much to the environment and to our lives. By creating a pond, what ever its size, you will have a source of interest every day of the year.  Choose a site that is sunny but also partially in the shade. Mark out the area with a garden hose pipe and start digging. The middle of the pond should ideally be at least eighteen inches deep. When the hole has been dug, line it with sand and make sure there are no sharp stones sticking out.  Then line the pond with a good quality pond liner available from garden centres and DIY stores. Place paving stones, bricks or pebbles around the edges and fill with water.

What plants should garden ponds have? 

The most essential plant is an oxygenator such elodea. This is a waterweed and has to be controlled as otherwise it will swamp the pond. Every pond should have a water lily as they can help reduce the growth of water weeds and also have beautiful flowers. A water lily suitable for a small pond is N.Ellislana. Then introduce other plants – there are plenty to choose from in garden centres.

What about pond life?

The magic of creating a garden pond is that once you have provided the basics, wild life will move in to make in their new home. You can add goldfish but beware of predators such as herons and cats. It you do have goldfish, protect them all year round with a net. Insects such as damselflies will add colour and interest particularly on a sunny day when they are courting.  Their nymphs live in the pond and emerge in the spring.

Water snails can be brought in on aquatic plants and they attract predators such as crows.

Amphibians for example frogs and newts will also make your garden pond their home.  In the spring their frog spawn will be laid in clusters.  About ten weeks later the small froglets emerge and disperse into your neighbourhood.  Pause lawn mowing  during the few weeks when they are on the move. Adult newts can be seen in the water throughout the year and under stones and piles of twigs.

Other wildlife

The local wildlife  will regularly visit your pond.  At night, foxes and hedgehogs will pop by for a drink and a nose.  During the day, birds will visit for a bath and a drink.  Set up a webcam and you will be amazed by the number and variety of visitors even if you live in an urban area.

Maintaining your pond

It is essential that you maintain your pond as left to its own devices, it will quickly become a less attractive environment for pond life.  Autumn and spring are the two key seasons. In the autumn, choose a calm warm day and take all the vegetation out of the pond. Divide water lilies and  return only one or two plants to the pond. Donate the rest to friends – or maybe sell your surplus plants.  Be ruthless as well with the other plants – including the oxygenators. Use a net to fish out fallen leaves. Leave the pond looking refreshed. Over the winter, frogs and newts will live in the bottom mud. In the spring, the pond will start to regrow and this is an important time to check the pond daily to remove excess pond weed and to rectify any problems.

For further information and advice on maintaining your own garden pond visit the RSPB, the Natural History Museum, the Young People’s Trust for the Environment, and the RHS.

Any questions? I would love to hear your stories about your garden pond.  Email me at