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Hi, I want to set up a wildlife pond in my small courtyard. Thinking of a 4ft x 2ft x 2ft galvanised cattle water trough. Free standing, not dug into the ground. Would I need a filter and pump? Any suggestions gratefully received.

Thank you

The whole idea of a wildlife pond is that it's natural, it's what you plant in the pond that's important. A pond will if planted correctly with native pond plants will after a season look after itself, no filtration is needed, just careful management of what goes into the pond.

Take a look at the link below to the rhs, there's plenty of advice there.


I think the difficulty with creating a true wildlife pond here will be that it's raised. Insects will be able to fly in but there'll be no access for life without wings.

A pump and filter are not wildlife pond items. 

What aspects of a wildlife pond would you like to create? 

Thank you all for your comments. I am really interested in attracting amphibians and was planning some sort of built up ramp with logs and plants etc for entry and exit along the 4ft back of the trough. I would then try and create shallow areas in the pond with upturned terracotta planters etc.. I have not seen any preformed pools which 'fit the bill"  - I thought this might work. 



You need shallow 'beaches' sloping down into the water rather than shallow areas 

 I know this is a bit bigger than you had in mind, but it's actually a very small pond. 

Thank you Dovefromabove. That looks beautiful. Unfortunately I have a very small courtyard garden so some form of container pond is essential.


Right, let's think again .................... 

 I cannot find anything more suitable.. just wooden lined rectangles etc... difficult! I appreciate your help though!  

Thank you so much Dovefromabove!


Peat B

Keep it simple. I might humbly suggest that if you managed to dig a hole in the courtyard, and went to an agricultural merchant that sold heavy rubber type feed buckets, which can be small pond size, approx 40 to 50 cms circumference, heavy duty and long lasting, They are about 30 to 40 cms deep, and for this, you have a virtually indestructible pond for whatever .   THEY WORK !    Happy days, Lynne.

Thank you Peat B.. I am slowly coming to the same opinion!!! I realise it's no good doing something which won't work for wildlife... thats the whole reason for doing it in the first place!

Does it matter if the pond is in the sun most of the day??? Please say No!!

Peat B

I wouldn't recommend the 'pond' being in full sun in a sheltered courtyard, unless you'd like poached pollywogs for brekky ! If you had some reasonable patio thingummies around it to provide not only shade, but a resting place for insects, you could end up with a roit lil ol nature reserve thar ! Yee HAWW !

Hmmmm ... needs a lot more thought and planning I fear!!

Thanks everyone for your suggestions! Watch this space!! !


Peat B

Further more, if you can dig it into the ground, with the top of said container virtually at the same level as the ground, then , as in the words of the Great Valerio, tight rope walker of the 19th century, 'TA DAHHHH' !               just before he fell off !

Gardening and all that it entails, is purely a matter of what suits you. A totally subjective action with a necessary objective result. It doesn't matter what it ultimately looks like, either beautiful of practical. If it suits your vision and capabilities, it's YOURS.  That's all that matters. I'm sure the frogs and toadies won't object to a little rustication.   Go for it, Kidder !

Hi Peat B, I have decided to follow your suggestion and dig up part of the courtyard.It will be a bit more hassle but hopefully better and more fit for purpose in the long run. If I start now, maybe I will even get visitors next spring? I hope so. There are no ponds close by but there is a marshy area about half a mile away, then the Thames, so maybe I will be lucky. 

Peat B

Hiya Lynne,   Now,  if there s some natural water pond like stuff nearby, cop a hold of some of it in a bucket, and when you are ready to  fill up your  pond, pop the contents into it, and let this settle. It'll make a natural ingredient for your pond life and plans to start off with. Let nature take it's course, NATURALLY ! My own wildlife pond started off with gunk from a pond a few miles out of town on the Alnwick Moor, and it is positively seething with life that I have never thought could get into it. Water skaters, frogs, a toad or two sometimes, and gawd only kens wot goes on at neet ! It's fun, it's interesting and apart from an occasional top up from the rain butt, looks after itself. Something will happen, and not entirely planned or expected.     Bon Chance, ma petite ! 


Hi Lynne,

On the water life forum at there is a lady who has a container pond in a half barrel but not sunk into the ground and it's doing very well.  Take a look at that site and search for container ponds.  I don't think you have to dig if you don't want to.  I think having plants around it will help.   Also there is something called a Lifepond which is free-standing, but it isn't very attractive.   I have a bathtub pond. It is sunk into the ground but no sloping areas.  Instead I put a large rock in it and have planting baskets on terracotta pots as you suggested.   I ordered native plants from Puddleplants and bought some watercress in a bag from the supermarket, put some in a bowl of water till it rooted, then put it in a basket.  Put the pond in in May and frogs by July.  (We have lots of water around me.) I use a solar powered air stone to oxygenate.