Pondering a pond

Whilst my corner of Britain is blasted with Arctic winds, and snow continues to lay on the ground, I’ve been grappling for green-fingered jobs to do. There’s still not much I can sow or do outside, whilst my un-heated greenhouse continues to sit with great gaping holes in it (winter winds – costly, irritating and downright impractical), so I’ve been doing things like reading the back of seed packets and grimacing.

I then started looking back through my blog archives to see what I was up to at this point, in years gone by. In 2008, I was somewhat distracted; we were having chicken nightmares, battling with heath issues with my ex-batts and ultimately we lost my beautiful Cynthia to the big chicken coop in the sky. Pattie followed her in August that year. In 2009, I had already planted my chitted Charlotte potatoes out. We were having more hen issues; Yoko and Maureen died within 10 days of each other, bringing my time with hens to a close. In 2010, by the end of March I’d planted in Autumn fruiting raspberries and garlic. In 2011, I’d sown a selection of chillies and peppers, kale, giant italian flat leaf parsley, garlic and more. Last year, apparently in March we were already approaching a drought, yet  I was planning on digging out a wildlife pond.

Still haven’t dug out that pond, yet.

A wildlife pond from Gardener’s World (s4.gardenersworld.com)

So whilst I can’t do much about the weather and my lack of heated greenhouse-type facilities, I can start thinking again about whether this year, a pond is a possibility. I’ve always felt that it’s one major wildlife attractant that my Smallest Smallholding is missing. Whilst we provide bird baths and sources of water, there’s nothing for aquatic or amphibious life to live in, with or alongside. We see frogs passing through from neighbours’ ponds, but I haven’t had the luxury of reliving that childhood fascination of watching frogspawn evolve into something with four legs. I would love to see all manner of wildlife benefit from a pond, from wiggly wigglers, to birds, amphibians, hedgehogs and everything else in between. And then there’s planting marginals. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to have marginals, but with our sandy -loam, there’s not really been an opportunity…

British garden toad

Part of my planning process is hindered by not knowing what I actually want. I don’t know whether to start small; we could dig out something that’s shallow enough to support marginals and keep hedgehogs from falling into deep waters, using pond liners so that we can create our own ‘organic’ shape. But I know that creating a self-sustaining pond is an art form in itself. Or we could go the whole hog; that would take more planning, but it would be more of a feature, and possibly more of an attractant… wouldn’t it?

Decisions, decisions.

I guess it all comes down to research. With little else to do, until the snow stops falling, I’ll have my nose in these books again.

Do you have a pond in your garden? Got any tips to share?


  1. Hi Lucy..Yes, yes yes…dig a pond, the bigger the better, with shelves or slopes for creatures to get out of easily and a middle depth of at least 18″ for hibernating amphibians. It is a wildlife magnet but watch out for the rare red backed wasp…ask Rich..lol:)) We have to re-do our wildlife pond as it has sprung a leak. I am pondering on re-siting it slightly as I would like to put our polytunnel where it is now just don’t fancy all the digging:)

  2. I have just posted on a similar subject 😉

    one tip – make sure you liner or at least puddle the bottom, if on clay.

    Ours was huge and lovely and we miss it, and the wildlife it engendered, enormously.

  3. Compostwoman – a ha! 😉 We’re about as far from clay as you can get, liner will definitely be required! I have always wanted a wildlife pond here but it seems such a monumental task, especially since I’m utterly rubbish at digging. I have a place ear marked but Rich keeps changing his mind about where he wants to build his barn… one minute it’s where my greenhouse is, the next it’s where I want to put my wildlife pond. Once he decides maybe I’ll get him digging 😉

    Helen – we were talking about your wildlife pond yesterday! Rich is of the opinion that it takes a lot of maintenance? Don’t suppose you’d fancy coming and doing some digging 😉

  4. Garden Tools says

    I have heard that a pond is great for frogs to help with allotments, im planning to put one at the base of my allotment this year, thanks for the help 🙂

  5. I sweated blood last year digging a pond in my rocky garden (it involved a crowbar and a pickaxe and much unsavoury language). It is specifically a wildlife pond with easy access and no goldfish. I knew we had a frog or two in the garden, and it was absolutely thrilling to see one jumping in when disturbed in the long grass alongside and to know that the pond was being used. And a couple of weeks ago we found masses of frogspawn, all very exciting! It really was worth all of the effort in making it, I can highly recommend it. I’ll try and blog about it soon.

  6. Paula @ Spoons 'n' Spades says

    What a lovely blog you have here, I’ve been reading all your past posts and thoroughly enjoying them.

    I have 3 small wildlife ponds in my garden (and I mean container and plant pot small) and they host a huge variety of frogs, newts, stag beetles etc. I hope you get your pond dug this year 🙂

    • Thank you so much Paula! We have a gro-bag container and a defunct small water feature that the birds love to use as a ground-level bird bath, drinker, play area… in summer the old water feature tends to host a frog or two, but I would love to expand that out to create something that lots more wildlife can stop and use. In the drier, hotter months last year even those two little water sources proved a life line for our birds, hedgehogs and insects… so I guess there’s only one thing I do… get digging!

  7. chicorychickensandchildren says

    Hi Lucy,
    We have been considering the same! We too have many frogs living within and passing through the garden, but have nowhere for them to get their watery fix. The frogs have already spawned down here in Somerset, but my son is obsessed with having a pond having seen the frogspawn at pre-school. We just completed our polytunnel and have lots of offcuts of polythene, reading your blog has inspired me! I shall use the off cuts of polythene to create a pond.
    I look forward to reading about your pond xxx

    • That’s great, I’d love to see the results of your new pond. I also still have a child-like interest in frogspawn (does it ever really go away), so I would love to see my pond become host to something like that. I also live in a very dry area, and it would almost feel like a relief to have some water featuring in the garden, especially if it was moving.

      Good luck with your pond!

  8. Catofstripes says

    This is a project I’d love to emulate, so I’m looking forward to seeing it progress. Best of luck.

    • Thanks, Catofstripes! I keep asking Rich (other half) when he’s going to dig out my pond for me, but we have quite a bit of prep work if it’s going to happen… a whole rampant dogwood needs to be dug out for staters, and I think that’s going to prove a major project in itself. Still… if I don’t try, I will never make it happen 🙂