My garden pond

by Richard Jones

On Friday I drained the pond. Or rather I bailed hundreds of gallons of smelly, gloopy water using whatever came to hand - plastic planters, a broken watering can and the rabbit's litter tray.

FrogA catastrophic and fatal error closed down the laptop on Friday and left me unable to post a blog entry last week. This followed an equally frustrating Christmas ipod incident.

So I'm venting my anger by working on something that does not have a plug, and for which I do not need to download the wrong sort of software: the pond.

Early this summer it sprung a leak and the water dropped 30 centimetres leaving an unsightly fringe of stained black plastic liner. I've been meaning to get round to it for months. Now I need some exercise to counter the effects of too many chocolate fancies and all that smoked cheese.

On Friday I drained the pond. Or rather I bailed several hundreds of gallons of smelly, gloopy water using whatever came to hand - plastic planters, a broken watering can and the rabbit's litter tray (which was very conveniently shaped I have to say). I've kept some of the pondweed in a bucket and spread the rest on a plastic sheet before I get rid of it on the compost heap. Not surprisingly there is not much life in it. In summer the weed is alive with all sorts of wriggling larvae, nymphs and maggots, but now they have mostly descended into the ooze below.

By Saturday it was all but empty when two frogs started splashing about in the murky dregs. They went into the bucket with the damselfly larvae, and after poking their noses about for a few minutes they disappeared to the bottom of the tub.

I now realize that I have bought rather too much liner. The trouble is the pond is triangular, made of three stacked layers of old railway sleepers. It's not large, only 3.5 by 1.5 metres. And although it is over a metre deep in one corner, it shelves to nothing in another. Oh well, I'll just use the rest on the shed roof, where the roofing felt has ripped and partly blown away. It'll certainly keep the rain out.

On Sunday I'm down to the last few handfuls of muddy silt in the deep end. I'd been sieving the last few bucket loads and the overwintering insect larvae were coming out thick and fast. In virtually the last scoop of mud a pointy head poked out from the sieve. It's another frog. This one doesn't splash about though. It's a plastic toy. Now I wonder which minx threw that in.

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Talkback: My garden pond
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Gardeners' World Web User 03/01/2003 at 12:21

Same here...hole in pond liner and badly needing to re-do. However, it looks ok at moment, as torrential rain filled it up and before it had a chance to drain away it froze over. Lulled into a false sense of security for now. We have constructed a larger pond in another site in garden so don't know whether or not to keep damaged one and re-do or just carefully empty it all and fill in the hole?

Gardeners' World Web User 03/01/2008 at 15:33

I know this is something I need to do too. We had so many newts in the pond over the summer that I am worried about losing them if I muck the pond out. You seem to imply that sieving the muck is a good method - any other hints?

Gardeners' World Web User 04/01/2008 at 00:00

I too need to clean up my pond! When is the best time to do this so not to disturb all the wild life, its not more than 2' deep at the lowest point but the plants have all gone mad with roots creeping everywhere.

Gardeners' World Web User 04/01/2008 at 00:00

Surely, as an entomolgist you must know that this is not the best time of year to empty your pond as so many animals and insect larvae lie low in the warmer bottom of the pond until spring.

Gardeners' World Web User 04/01/2008 at 08:21

Alternatively, you could use your spare piece of liner to make a bog garden. Dig a suitable area to one spade depth, line the hole with the liner and return the soil. It will hold any rainwater and you can grow boggy plants...

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