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Ideas to buck up my tired pond please

Discussion in 'Water Gardening' started by Clare G, Jul 31, 2017.

  1. Clare G

    Clare G Super Gardener

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    In a corner of my back garden, next to the patio, I have a small pond which must now be about 30 years old. It's a feature I like, and want to keep, but now that the liner needs removal I think it could be improved on - and I thought some of you clever people might be able to help me with that.

    It's about 160cm long x 120 cm front to back. Around part of it are rocks (hiding the edge of the liner) gravel and soil where houseleeks, Mexican fleabane, thyme, etc happily grow. To the front at the left as you can see in the photos is a shallow tanked area filled with gravel, ferns and shells - that's about 80cm x 80cm. Behind that, that end of the pond has a relatively shallow shelf, the rest of it has steep sides and is 90cm deep. Though the water level is never more than about 75cm - at the house end the retaining wall was made lower so it could drain away into the house drains (not really the best idea!). It is fed by the overflow from the water butt, there is a fountain pump and goldfish happily breed in it.

    Things I dislike about it: the always-low water level, having it draining towards the house, not that wildlife-friendly (though frogs, damselflies etc do come), the rock surround has always looked a bit barren and by now distinctly dated.

    What I was wondering about was the practicalities of draining it, partially filling it (there is some hardcore already on site which could be used), placing a new smaller pond within the deep end, getting some more plants in the shallow end and repositioning the existing rocks, big pebbles, gravel etc as part of the process.

    I am just wondering whether it is realistic to think I could do this myself, and on a fairly limited budget. Some other specific queries: when would be the best time? Autumn? Would it be easier to make a smaller pond using a new liner, or a rigid container? Could I maybe even use the redundant cold water tank currently sitting on my roof? (75 cm diameter x 65cm deep.) And should the old liner come out first, or be left in situ? Drainage - is it OK to set it up just to drain into the flower bed this time? (Most pond construction advice seems be suggest 'just let it overflow'....)

    All your thoughts and ideas will be most welcome :snorky:IMG_2303.JPG
     

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    • ricky101

      ricky101 Super Gardener

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      Hi,

      It looks nice, but as you say seems a bit 'quiet' so adding some colour and movement would help, though how to do that depends on your own tastes, eg plants, fountains, waterfalls, decorations etc.

      Have you seen the pictures in the previous thread by Martin ?
      Small pond advice please
      When you say the pond level is always low, is that a leak or just evaporation ?
      After filling up, does it drop to a particular level overnight, indicating a high up leak that might be patchable ?

      If the liners too far gone, for simplicity, think I would get a preformed pond and set it inside the old liner using sand to fill the void between them.

      There are quiet a few decent second hand preformed pond on the usual sites, ebay, gumtree, preloved if you can collect.
       
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        Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
      • Clare G

        Clare G Super Gardener

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        Yes, I was looking at Martin's thread and thinking how well his preformed liner works. Putting one inside the old liner and stabilising with sand sounds a relatively easy job:thumbsup:

        There IS a leak in the old liner, high up, but the real problem is with the way the pond was constructed - the builder deliberately made the rim at the house end lower so water would drain out that way. Which means that a good 15cm or more of ugly black liner is always on view the rest of the way round.

        edited for clarity
         
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        • ricky101

          ricky101 Super Gardener

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          Lots of preformed ones out there, new or s/h, sure you will find one that fits inside your existing liner, though you need to check its depth, ideally 18" + deep to avoid it all freezing up, so they say, though perhaps thats unlikely these days, partic in the south.

          Just puncture your old liner with a fork a few times so any water can drain away.
          Place the new pond on a small bed of sand, levelled to drain the other way and pour sand down the gap at the sides, easy :biggrin:
           
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          • Clare G

            Clare G Super Gardener

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            :) Sounds like an excellent plan - thank you very much @ricky101!
             
          • martin-f

            martin-f Plant Hardiness Zone 8b

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            You might find newts and other wildlife in there maybe fish ?, please make sure you have somewhere to put them while works going on :).
             
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            • Clare G

              Clare G Super Gardener

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              Yes @martin-f there are indeed a few goldfish, swan mussels too - I have a large tub trug I thought they could go into for a day or so. Never seen any newts alas, but I do get frogs and occasionally toads. I reckon they will hop out of the way while the work is ongoing, hopefully the result will be an improvement for them (better ways in and out and more cover). I am considering whether there should actually be two separate pond spaces - a larger deeper one for the fish and a smaller one which I could move any frogspawn into in the spring. At the moment the goldfish tend to eat the tadpoles...
               
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              • Redwing

                Redwing Wild Gardener

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                If you want a wildlife pond, best to do away with the fish. They will eat most, if not all, of the larvae, both amphibian and insect. In such a small space it is pretty impossible to have fish and a wildlife pond. You need to decide your priorities.

                It looks pretty but wouldn't it be nice to have something a bit taller at the back?
                 
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                • Clare G

                  Clare G Super Gardener

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                  Thank you, @Redwing. Yes, it might be better just to give the fish away - will give that some thought. I agree about having some taller stuff at the back too, that would look better and give any wildlife more shelter too. That strip of earth next to the wall is very narrow as well as very dry at the moment, not the best growing environment - the chaenomeles I put in struggles a bit. I am planning to widen and improve it within the revamp.
                   
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                  • martin-f

                    martin-f Plant Hardiness Zone 8b

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                    Personally I think a few fish is ok, I'm a x fisherman and fished in ponds full of fish and also full of wildlife, where do you draw the line :dunno: take frogs out they eat fly's etc, take newts out they eat tadpoles etc, to me fish will keep it more natural, every natural pond has fish in it, just don't put too many in for the size,

                    That's just my opinion, i will look forward to your progress Clare :)
                     
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                    • ricky101

                      ricky101 Super Gardener

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                      Agree with Redwing, in a small pond, goldfish will eat anything they can get at, more and more as they grow.

                      If you use some large aquatic planters with some bricks/gravel/small plants to hold them down, but with the top edges of the planters just out of the water , then that should provide a safe haven for some wildlife.
                       
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                      • Clare G

                        Clare G Super Gardener

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                        Good news - I have just ordered a new 250L rigid liner, so yes @martin-f watch this space for progress!

                        Still thinking about the goldfish:scratch:. Quite apart from anything else I think there are probably more of them than would fit comfortably in the new smaller pool. None of them are large, there are a couple of orange ones who are easy to ID but there are also a fair few small dark babies. Anyone got any bright ideas for helping them find a good new local home? I can't put them on our local freecycle as it doesn't accept listings for live creatures. And I gave up on streetlife when it turned into nextdoor!

                        I like @ricky101's idea of the slightly raised planters which would act as wildlife refuges, they would look attractive too and the liner has plenty of shelf space to accommodate them. :snorky: Maybe the orange fish could stay, on approval as it were? Or more likely until the next passing heron spots them. There is a big heronry in our local park and the inhabitants often come out on 'goldfish sushi expeditions' I fear.
                         
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                        • martin-f

                          martin-f Plant Hardiness Zone 8b

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                          Great Clare :), you could try eBay free collection only ?.
                           
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                          • "M"

                            "M" Total Gardener

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                            I truly *get* the fish argument re wildlife/frog spawn. I only have a limited experience to draw upon but here goes.

                            I moved into my previous house in 2010 (left in 2014). There was a pond which had stood idle for quite some time. It contained fish, was in a dreadful, neglected, state, attracted damsels, lots of frogs in the garden and even newts! Nature finds its own "levels" ... the key is, to not push the boundaries ;) Give fish their maximum space per size and the rest sorts itself out in my experience.
                             
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                            • ARMANDII

                              ARMANDII ADMINISTRATOR Staff Member

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                              I would agree with Martin if the pond was bigger, but in a small pond even with planting there is very little places for other things than Fish to hide and survive. My Wildlife :coffee::snorky:pond is around 22' long, 12' wide, and, at the deepest, around 3' in depth. It has around 7 medium sized Goldfish in it, along with Frogs and various insects with plenty [over planting] of marginal, bank and bog garden plants which give plenty of hiding places for Newts, Tadpoles, etc.
                               
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