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Alan Titchmarsh on Pond Life

If you have ever wanted a pond but never got round to making one, now is a great time to start. If space is limited however, you’d be better off with a water feature, since small ponds tend to heat up too much in the summer and turn green.

You must site your pond or water feature out in the open and not under trees otherwise it will fill with fallen leaves. Ponds need to be lined with thick PVC, or even better, butyl, which will last for over 20 years. Dig a hole about 2ft deep in the middle of the site and add a shelf around the edge for plants that prefer to live in the shallows and where the baskets in which they are planted can stand. The shelf needs to be about a foot below the final water surface. When thinking about wildlife, make sure there is a gradual slope into the water in one area to allow frogs, toads and hedgehogs to get in and out when they have to.

The hole should be lined with about 2 inches (5 cms) of sand and then covered with fibrous pond underlay before stretching the liner into place and filling with water. As the level of the water rises, make sure to tuck and pleat the liner so that it will give a neat finish. When the final water level is reached, turn your attention to the edges. To tidy up the edges you can lay paving slabs, or for a more natural look, turf can be used. Don’t leave any of the liner showing or it will ruin the whole effect.

Submerged oxygenating plants are vital to keep the water clear although it will turn green a few days after filling. If the oxygenators are there, this will clear in a short space of time. Aim for a small clump abut every 2 feet (60 cms) across the bottom of the pond.

Waterlilies can be sunk into the centre of the pond but check that the variety will suit the size of your pond, as some are more vigorous than others.

 Marginal aquatics such as flag irises can stand in perforated baskets on the shelves, but wait for a couple of months until the pond settles, before introducing fish. Golden orfe are a good choice – feed them at the same time every day so that they get into the habit of coming to the surface for their food. They might disappear for a few days at first, though.

If you don’t have room for a pond, a jet of water pushing up through a drilled stone will bring plenty of coolness.

Reproduced from Alan Tichmarch’s article in the Express

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