Want to make your garden more interesting and add a focal point as well as attracting some wildlife? One great option is to build a garden pond. The great news is that doing so isn’t as hard as you thought and it’s a great challenge if you like spending time in your garden (which I’m guessing you do)

superpond
(Flikr, via wonderlane)

It may seem a bit cold right now, but this is the time to be planning your pond so that you can get cracking and have it ready for spring when plants and wildlife can take residence and get your pond established.

Where To Put It!

The first step is to think about positioning. This may seem pretty simple, but putting it in the wrong place can spoil the final product. The best position will depend on other things, such as whether you plan to install a pump or lights and how they will be powered.

In any case, best practice is to pick somewhere reasonably flat and not directly under trees, since falling leaves will make a mess of it each fall. Somewhere which gets a little sunlight but not too much is ideal.

If you can, using solar powered lighting and pumps will make the installation process simpler, but you should consider whether solar power can provide enough electricity.

Positioning Your Pond

Of course, it is also worth thinking about where you can get the most enjoyment out of your pond. Having it in the most ideal corner of your garden might be a waste if it means that you never get to enjoy it.

One option is to put it within view of your patio seating or so that you can see it from the kitchen window. You could even consider installing a small bridge over the pond so that you can make it a more central part of the garden.

Sizing And Shapes

The great thing about building your own pond is that you can make it whatever shape you want. A simple circle is the easiest option, but to make it fit in with the natural look of the garden you can go for an L-shape or a kidney bean shape.

Go for round corners and add plenty of different depths to give more variety. A shallow area will allow hedgehogs to drink, but deeper areas will allow for fish and various pond plants.

Lining Options – Flexible

Flexible lining is the cheaper option and also allows you to create whatever shape of pond you prefer. The downside of course is that the installation is slightly harder. Here is the basic process though:

Dig the hole according to your plans and carefully remove all of the stones and debris from the soil. Then fill a shallow layer of building sand to cover any smaller bits; this will prevent punctures in the liner.

Position the liner in the hole and carefully push it into the corners. Don’t stretch the liner and neaten up the edges, cut around the top leaving 6 – 12 inches excess. Use heavy stones to hold the liner in place while you fill the pond and check that the corners are settling in nicely.

Lining Options – Rigid

A rigid lining is an easier option and reduces the chances of punctures, but it is a more expensive option and you will have to have your pond in whatever shape the lining is made.

If you take the rigid lining option, the first step is to decide what shape (approximately) you would like the pond to be and then start shopping for the right lining. Once you have bought the lining you can start digging an appropriate hole.

Again, it is a good idea to remove any stones and use sand to smooth the surface, but you don’t need to be a thorough.

Your Pond’s Eco-System

To keep a healthy pond you will need to think about what life you would like it to contain and consider aeration and filtration. The most important thing is ensuring your pond contains enough oxygen to support the right pond and plant life.

Think about the water capacity of your pond and choose a pump accordingly. If your pond doesn’t have enough oxygen the water will become cloudy and could stagnate, creating a less than ideal environment for wildlife.

Once your pond is finished and full of water, it is a good idea to wait for a couple of weeks for the water to settle before adding plants, and potentially another 2 or 3 weeks before adding any fish (if you plan to).


 

About The Author
This post was written by Ricky Peterson from Swallow Aquatics (link to website) who specialise in aquatics and gardening supplies. Ricky loves his garden & the great outdoors even during the winter months.


You’ve spent hours digging, lining, and filling your pond, sourcing pumps, locating filters and adding aquatic plants. When the job is finished you wipe the sweat off your brow, grab a cup of tea and wait. And then wait some more. Just when will all the wildlife show up?

pond
After all of that hard work, it’s understandable that you’d like your pond to be used be used by wildlife as intended. You might also want the whole family to enjoy the pond, especially children who will love spotting creatures in their new habitat. In addition, a thriving pond full of wildlife has educational benefits for your children or grandchildren too. (Especially during school holidays, when you can print a resource pack from the Internet and ask children to draw, colour and write about everything they see! A free, fun, educational activity for an otherwise boring afternoon!)

 

If you feel like your beauty of a pond deserves to be enjoyed by a few more critters, you’re in luck because this article will provide you with some tips today. Read on to learn more!

 

First things first, what different types of wildlife can I expect to see?

 

As you know, ponds will naturally attract lots of water-loving critters from newts to dragonflies, pondskaters to frogs and more besides. But do you know that a pond will attract bats, birds, hedgehogs and even foxes too? Birds will use your pond as their own personal Jacuzzi, while foxes will visit for a long, cool drink in the summer. Meanwhile, hedgehogs will hunt slugs and invertebrates in the long grass around the edges. Hedgehogs can even swim too!

frogHow can I attract more wildlife?

If your pond isn’t cutting the mustard, try troubleshooting using the following tips and advice from professional wildlife organizations and charities:

 

- Is your pond accessible or too deep? Your pond needs a shallow area so it’s accessible for animals, providing a slope for entering and leaving the pond. In fact, according to the The Royal Horticultural Society, it’s thought that most amphibians much prefer shallow water. In addition, if certain animals (like hedgehogs) cannot leave your pond, they will likely die from exhaustion. Your slope/shallow part of the pool doesn’t need to cost any more money, or be technical: simply use rocks from the garden.

 

- Have you put a branch over your pond? A thick branch near or over your pond will encourage birds to perch over and bathe in your pond. You might be amazed how effective this cheap, simple trick is! Birds also prefer shallow water, but will stand on both rocks and branches located in larger ponds.

 

- Have you tried installing a “toad abode”? If your children are keen on spotting amphibians, you might wish to install a “toad abode”. This is quite simply an upturned ceramic pot that toads can live in! Simply place yours next to the pond, ideally without a base and prop up using medium-sized rocks. The National Wildlife Federation has a guide here. Children can get crafty by decorating the pots using poster paints.

dragonfly- Is your pond in a sunny but sheltered location? Some insects like dragonflies need water for breeding. A pond that is in a sunny but sheltered location is likely to attract dragonflies. If you’d like to attract more dragonflies, try creating a ‘mini meadow’ of long grass close to the pond. Old logs and sticks will attract various species of dragonflies too. Create shelter and shade by using large plants – but watch out for falling debris entering your pond.

 

- Have you planted any flowers? A good variety of flowering plants will attract insects to your garden. Insects are a food source for dragonflies, damselflies, water striders amphibians and birds. If it is not convenient to plant flowers near your pond, house them in pots, tubs and other containers instead.

 

Further resources:


+++

BIO:

Carly writes on behalf of Swallow Aquatics a company that provides everything you’ll ever need for building and creating a pond, including liners, pumps, filters and similar. In her spare time, Carly loves spending time with her family, going to the gym and training for her first 5K run.

+++

Image Credits:

Pond © Public Domain. Image from MorgueFile – a free photography resource, here’s the direct download link: http://mrg.bz/OtxjlO

Frog © Tambako the Jaguar. Creative Commons. From Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/7982702139/sizes/m/in/photostream/


Dragonfly © Chris Paul Photography. Creative Commons. From Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/rockyslayer/7262169226/sizes/m/in/photostream/

+++

Winter GardenAs Winter has fallen upon us, there are certain measures we can take to avoid the bad weather and harsh conditions affecting the aesthetic of our gardens. A whole variety of products are available in the market at the moment, and choosing between them can be tricky. Therefore listed below are the 5 must-have products for this Christmas Season.

 

The Flat Pack Incinerator

 

This Flat Pack Incinerator comes in a handy and portable package, which makes it easy to transport around the garden. It has a sleek and discreet design allowing it to seamlessly fit into your gardens landscape. Made of galvanised steel, it can withstand whatever the elements throw at it, as it is a strong piece of equipment. This product is perfect for clearing up all the garden debris that gets blown around by the wind throughout the Winter months, and especially for getting rid of surplus leaves. If your regular debris bins are overflowing (we’ve all been there), the incinerator offers a perfect solution.

 

The Leaf Grabber

 

This product has a sleek and simple design, which makes it extremely easy to use. There is an extended/elongated handle, which means minimal bending down to get at those pesky leaves (which is extremely beneficial for the back). It can be used for moving big piles of leaves or just for grabbing those leaves in hard to reach places. This piece of kit can cut significant time spent cleaning up the garden in the cold which is ideal.

 

Coal Bunkers

 

Coal Bunkers are fantastic for storing your fire starting fuel this winter. Keeping coal bags in the house and in the garden, looks messy and is impractical. Having a good sturdy coal bunker in the garden will allow you to store away a lot more coal and neatly, for a long period of time. This product can come in a variety of sizes depending on your coal needs. Usually made from galvanised sheet metal, these bunkers can withstand all weather conditions. It also has a sliding door on the front, to ensure both easy use and access.

 

The Weed Wand

 

This is a handy lightweight device which can swiftly and effectively deal with any weed problems messing up your garden. It uses a high temperature ignition flame to cause the cells of the weed to die. This means that the weed will be destroyed within two days of use, eliminating the need for messy, harmful and expensive chemicals. For clearing up your garden this winter, this innovative product is definitely a must buy.

 

Dual Chamber Tumbling Composter

 

The Dual Chamber Tumbling Composter is a method of producing nutrient rich compost for your garden over the winter months, taking up minimal time. It can have two loads of compost mature in it at once, and they can be ready for spreading on the garden in as little as 2 weeks. During winter the garden goes through a lot of damage from the elements, so having nutrient rich compost is important to get your plants back on track. These compost Chambers are family size, so can hold their fair share of compost. The design means that it is conveniently portable and easy to put in the garden.


This article was written by Drew Rapley, a regular writer on the Gardening World and Gardening Products. All five of these products will get you well on your way to keeping your garden clean and tidy this winter. For any other useful and practical gardening products then visit Garden Ventures for more.

Stay safe. Eat well. Remeber to help someone.

 

Damon

Snow Covered GardenIt's that time of year again. Gardeners across the nation are biting their nails to the quick, driving their partners loopy and losing sleep over the possessions that they prize above all else – their beloved plants. Well, maybe we're being a little dramatic, but it's no lie that winter is a worrying time for gardeners.Nobody wants all of the time that they have invested in their back yard to go to waste.

 

Luckily, there are many ways that you can protect your plants and ensure that come spring they'll be right as rain – even if the weather is going to be as bad as they say. Read on, green-fingered friends!

 

Wrap up warm
No, we're not talking about you – we're talking about your plants. An old sheet will do, or failing that you should be able to purchase a frost cover from your local garden centre. If the weather is set to be especially frosty, a quilt may even be in order. Make sure that you don't use plastic on plants, though, as this can end up making them too hot.

 


Plastic – as well as foam and bubble wrap – is great when used around containers, however. If possible, move any container plants to a place of shelter, such as a shed or garage, or even just closer to the house. If you bring any container plants inside, think about whether the environment will be suitable for them in terms of temperature and the availability of sunlight.

 

 

Cover up
Now that your plants are nice and warm, it's time to make sure that your soil is taken care of. If you have any areas of your garden that won't have any plants in them, it's a great idea to plant a cover crop, also known as 'green manure'. Rye and hairy vetch go very well together, particularly during harsh winters and will suppress weed growth and keep soil in place, then break down and provide nutrients for your soil, ready for the spring.

 

 

Food, glorious food
Speaking of nutrients, your plants will need plenty before the big freeze. Give them a layer of compost and mulch so that they're well fed, and try to water them before the ground freezes over when it will be difficult for them to reach water. However, avoid over-watering as this can lead to soggy, cold roots – which will not a happy plant make!

 

 

A frog eat frog world

It's not only your plants that will need some TLC during the colder months – if you have a pond, make sure that the fish and plants in there are looked after, too. Make sure that the pond doesn't get covered in ice by checking it daily when the weather is bad, or consider installing a deicer, which contains a heating element and will prevent the water around it from icing over.

 

 

Get growing
Winter seems like a time when everything dies, but some plants thrive in the cold. Overwintering onions should be planted in November, and carrots are much sweeter when harvested after the first frost. Spinach is also best sown four to six weeks before the first frost. And if nothing else, your garden can work as an effective pantry – bury cabbages, potatoes and carrots to keep them fresh once harvested.
In the clear

 

 

The best gardeners plan ahead, so now is really the time to start thinking about spring. With that in mind, make the effort to clear your garden of any waste and keep it well maintained so that it is ready to sow into come March. Your plants will thank you – and so will you, later on!

 

 

About The Author
This guest post was brought to you by Eric Jennings from the Millrace Garden Centre. Eric is a gardener, and he loves winter and Christmas especially. He likes to spend time outside and particular enjoys seeing Christmas decorations put up.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Greenhorn Gardening Success StoryThe first time I harvested a tomato, I was hooked, and I wanted to know how to grow everything! I wanted oranges, artichokes, broccoli, spinach and all manner of exotic flora growing in my garden, but I knew I had to discover which plants grew well in my area and also the why and how. So, I enrolled in a semester long Master Gardener class at my local county extension. Once accepted into a Master Gardener program, students are trained by Cooperative Extension, university and local industry specialists in subjects such as taxonomy, plant pathology, soil health, entomology, cultural growing requirements, sustainable gardening, nuisance wildlife management and integrated pest management.

 

Master Gardener programs provide extensive training to volunteers who, in turn, agree to advise and educate the public on gardening and horticulture using their individual interests and strengths. They agree to provide information to the public through cooperative extension helplines during the spring and summer months. In addition, they use their knowledge to speak at public events, write articles for publications, and partner with other community programs, gardens and educational facilities. In my city, Master Gardeners help maintain an arboretum, work in therapeutic greenhouses, help start outdoor classrooms, write grants to fund horticulture programs, speak on garden design, herbs and plant botany. Master Gardeners are active in all fifty states in the United States and in Canadian provinces. In the US, groups are affiliated with a land-grant university and one of its cooperative extension service offices.

 

People from all walks of life and all levels of experience bond over their common interest in gardening and can continue their new-found friendships through the local Master Gardener Association which offers monthly educational meetings and periodic conferences on topics of interest to gardeners. To find a Master Gardener class in your area go to www.ahs.org/gardening-resources/master-gardeners.

 

–Laurie Reinwald, Master Gardener