Get planting - Wildlife Pond Part 2

Planting a pond is not difficult – the plants are very easy and will take off (as in grow) as soon as you plunge them in, so you don’t have to be precious about it. Floating plants like ivy-leaf duckweed, hornwort and water solider can be thrown, literally! - By Françoise Murat

Planting a pond is not difficult – the plants are very easy and will take off (as in grow) as soon as you plunge them in, so you don’t have to be precious about it. Floating plants like ivy-leaf duckweed, hornwort and water solider can be thrown, literally!

Marginal plants (the ones that edge the pond in the shallower water), such as water forget me not, spearwort and water plantain should be anchored down with a rock so that they can get a grip into the soil you have put in. Once they get a foothold they will be fine and you can just leave the rocks in there. 

For bigger plants such as brooklime, spearwort and water plantain, just use a rock or stone to hold the roots in contact with the subsoil. So the bigger plants that go in the middle or the water lilies will usually come in a basket. Fill the basket with more stones, make sure you don’t crush the roots and place them in the deeper parts of the pond.

Once you have done all the planting, the water will be green – usually a time when clients call me in a panic. They often don’t believe me that the water will be clear in a few days, but then they call back delighted and relieved that everything has turned out as promised.

Wildlife should be happily colonising the pond and your pond should thrive.

KEEPING IT BEAUTIFUL

A pond will need looking after. To keep it in check you will need to be brutal once in a while. When half the pond is covered with plants you need to haul some of them out and give them to friends or compost them. But remember, this is a wildlife pond, so place the plants on the edges of the pond for a day so that all the amphibians and insects have a chance to leave their hide out.

This also applies to the plants that are completely underwater. Fish them out and leave them overnight to allow all the animal life to leave – tease out the tangles in the plants to ensure that they get the best chance to crawl out. The more courageous of you can even help them out by hand and throw them back in.

This clearing-out process will allow as many different species as possible to thrive and not let the bullies take over the school yard! Cutting back the plants also reduces the production of nitrogen that algae feeds on, keeping algae such as blanket weed to a minimum.

Whenever we design and build a pond for a client we supply them with barley bricks. These are thrown in the pond and usually last 1-2 years before they need replacing. These clean and clear the pond of algae.

Birds will tend to bathe and splash around and can scratch or dislodge the liner. The best thing to do is to line the edge with large stones and gravel. This will also look more natural than a sharp edge.

The water level will rise and fall. During a hot summer evaporation of the water can be rather dramatic, so you will need to keep an eye on the pond during hot spells.

If you have a rainwater harvesting butt why not connect it to the pond with an overflow refill pipe? When the water butt is full up the excess can be transferred to the pond.

Even if you are tight for space, have small children and prefer not to install a pond until they are older, any form of water feature - even a bird bath - will really make a difference to the number and types of wildlife visitors that visit your garden. I have tried to show the basics of pond design here, but depending on how adventurous you are feeling, I can suggest having a look at The Wildlife Trust’s The Wildlife Pond Handbook by Louise Bardsley

Photographs of wildlife kindly provided by Hampshire Wildlife Trust http://www.hwt.org.uk/

Photograph of ponds and plants. © F. Murat

 

Françoise Murat & Associates specialise in interior, garden & landscape design.

For more garden and interior design information visit us at www.francoisemurat.com.