You may think that by having a pond in your garden you are just improving your own surroundings and participating in a great hobby, but you would be wrong. Your garden pond does more for the environment than you may think. Wildlife ponds in Britain are disappearing at an alarming rate and with more land reclamation, building projects and more land turned over to agriculture every year the prospect for natural ponds looks bleak.
Natural ponds are a key component of Britain’s delicately balanced wildlife eco-system and the diverse wildlife and plant environments they offer are diminishing fast. This means your humble garden pond has thrust its way up the scale of environmental importance and many types of wildlife that would ordinarily be using a natural pond may now be using your garden pond instead.
Encouraging wildlife to visit your pond should be something you look at when deciding the pond’s position in your garden and your overall pond design. Incorporating areas where wildlife can hide and shelter without being disturbed and providing different types of areas in your pond to attract as many types of diverse wildlife as possible is not only going to increase your pleasure, it could be helping everyone in Britain too.
Having a pond in your garden can help to enhance your surroundings and increase the value of your property. More and more people in the UK find garden ponds to be pleasurable, relaxing and a great fun filled hobby. Garden ponds can actually provide you with a competitive advantage over other similar properties in your neighbourhood.
The cost of building a garden pond can vary depending on the size and design of your pond. Building the pond is of course a job you can do yourself, it just takes a little time and effort. If you use a good quality pond liner material like Epalyn then your pond should also stay maintenance free for some years to come. Make sure the pond is situated in a position that does not receive too much sun and also conversely not too much shade. If you are considering having fish in your pond then make sure it is deep enough and don’t overstock it, your fish will need room to grow and the pond should provide then with a balanced eco-system.
A garden pond enhances the charm and appeal of your property and helps to attract prospective buyers as well.
In the last couple of articles we discussed water quality and what to do if your pond has too much algae. A pond is like a mini eco-system of its own and because of this any changes to the pond environment can cause quite dramatic changes very quickly. That is why it is always a good idea to keep on top of your pond maintenance and never neglect a problem that continues to rear its ugly head.
So my pond seems fine but why does the water always look so muddy? As every pond owner knows having crystal clear water is not only practically unachievable, it is also not a great environment for your fish to live in. Muddy water is likely to be caused by the activity of your fish, koi especially like rooting though the silt and sediment at the bottom of your pond which is why you pond looks dirty. You can add flocculating agents to your pond that will make the sediment sink back to the bottom of the pond but if the sediment is not removed then the problem will quickly reoccur.
A pond has many inhabitants and keeping them all happy is a difficult job, but when you are happy with the overall outcome keeping a garden pond it is a very satisfying hobby.
In the last article we discussed that if your pond has too many nutrients than you may have a problem with the amount of algae in your pond. There are many options you have to deal with the problem, but all of which could be short term solutions unless you get to the root of the problem.
• If you use tap water to top up your pond level you could be adding too many nutrients into your pond environment. Try using collected rain water instead; it’s better for the environment and also better for your bank balance if you have a water meter fitted to your property.
• Avoid too much decaying material entering your pond by stopping leaves from trees falling into your pond and any marginal planting dropping leaves or flowers into your pond. This will decrease the level of nutrients that enter your pond.
• Try to introduce submerged plants into your pond, these will take up nutrients and compete with the algae for space.
• Try to reduce the amount of sunlight that your pond receives, a great way of doing this is by introducing water lilies or other pond plants that sit on the surface of your pond.
• The non-strand types of algae can be removed by a good pond filter, when UV lighting is also added this can control the algae making it easier to collect and remove.
It can be a delicate balance between having a pond that has crystal clear water and one that doesn’t quite look so stunning but provides a much better environment for your pond life. In fact, crystal clear water could be seen as a problem for your fish. It can be difficult to diagnose poor water quality but is can be caused by lack of nutrients or even too many nutrients.
When your pond has too many nutrients you may notice and increase in the level of algae in the pond. This is not all bad news because the algae produce oxygen which is of course great for your fish. It also provides a great food source for other wildlife and controls the nutrients that might get added to the pond with tap water. There are many different types of algae but the main types found in garden ponds are free floating algae and blanket weed.
If your pond has a balanced eco-system then your algae level should be self controlling but if you have too many of one thing you may have a problem. There are many things you can do to try to solve the problem. All of which will be discussed in the next article.
In the last article we discussed how easy it is for your pond pump intake to become blocked with leaves mud and other pond detritus. When you have cleaned the intake and the pump still does not work what do you do?
The filter in your pump might have become blocked, these can be replaced for a new filter on some models and if not it can be cleaned thoroughly. The next thing to look at is whether the spray holes have become blocked, this may be the case if you live in hard water area. Calcium build up can block the holes over time so you can clean the nozzle it a de-calcifying solution (commonly used to decalcify your kettle or shower head).
If this does not work and you have a lot of patience you could always use a pin or another sharp implement to further remove the build-up from the holes. Lastly, and this is the worst scenario, the internal workings of the pump or the pump motor may be faulty. In cases like this it is commonly easier and cheaper to buy a new pump than to get your old one repaired.
Having a water feature in your garden is a great way to introduce water into your garden without having a large garden pond. This might be a stand alone feature like a small fountain or even a bubble fountain where the water emerges from a rock or trickles over the surface of a stone. These are a great way to add visual appeal, and the soothing sound of the movement of water can not only be relaxing but also bring more wildlife into your garden.
But what happens if the pond pump stops working or the water has turned into a mere trickle. The first thing to do is not be overly concerned. This is a common problem with many pumps, the pump intake can get blocked quite regularly with leaves or mud or other pond detritus. All you need to do is to switch off the electricity supply to the pump and remove the pump and clean it. When you put it back into the pond or water feature make sure the intake is not directly on the floor of the pond, this will stop the silt and mud being collected and your pump getting blocked too quickly.
Other pond pump problems will be discussed in the next article.
If you haven’t got room for a full size pond then maybe you could have a look at the many different types of standalone water features there are currently available on the market. These usually feature water trickling from one level to another and can create a brilliant focal point to your garden design.
If you already have a pond then there are many ways you can spruce it up a little – and not spend a fortune. Most involve either a little hard work or a simple new feature.
Such features could perhaps include a water mister – this natty little device can not just add atmosphere to your pond area but many come with LED lights and a remote control so you can change the ambiance at the touch of a button. They are safe for all your pond life and turn the water into mist particles without the addition of any chemicals.
Another option you could go for would be to add some floating water lilies, these are UV resistant and are available in different colours and look just like the real thing. They provide shade for your fish and are a cheap way to add that little something extra to your pond.
If you are thinking of starting a family or your toddler has just started to take his or her first steps you may want to consider the options you have to safeguard them from the unfortunate risk your pond may pose. It doesn’t really matter how much water your pond contains, ponds and toddlers don’t really mix.
The best thing you can do if you are a pond owner is to introduce some form of physical barrier around the pond so your children will not be able to gain access to the pond area. This may be in the form of a fence or a wall but should be of adequate construction to keep the toddler out.
One problem of course when adding such a barrier is that the aesthetic nature of your garden pond may be damaged and it could add an unflattering aspect to your overall garden’s outlook.
Another option is to install a strong mesh over the complete pond. The type of mesh and the way it is anchored into the ground is of paramount importance. It should be able to hold a child’s weight if they fall on the mesh and prevent a child from clambering underneath.
If you have a pond and are the parent of young children, you should always protect them from the potential danger your pond poses.
Adding plants to garden ponds that do not have soil as a base layer above the liner is really easy to do and the best way to add plants to your pond. When adding basket containers, it is not only easy to position them in the pond but also if the plant becomes too large it is easier to remove it than digging up the bottom of your pond and potentially damaging the pond liner. Also, if you plant your pond plants in containers it stops them becoming to invasive and actually keeps the plants in completely separate clusters.
Baskets that are used for pond planting are usually constructed from some sort of plastic mesh that allows the water to pass through and also the roots to spread out throughout the water. After the plant is placed in a container of this type it is worth adding a thick layer of gravel to the top of the compost. This will hold down the plant and container and stop it floating away. On the subject of compost, you need to use the right type. If you use normal garden compost you will find that the compost floats due to the fibrous components found in it. Buying good quality aquatic compost from your aquatics dealer is the only option here.