A Garden Pond: How Not To

As an added garden extra over the Covid lockdown I decided we needed a bit of water in our outdoor area and set about researching small ponds. Contrary to what I thought you really don’t need a lot of space to make your pond dreams a reality! Little did I know my quest for a water feature would turn into an epic journey of failure, intrigue and shock, horror – death (sad face).

Let me start at the beginning. First off, because our garden isn’t the biggest, Sylvie is soon to be a crawler (once she mastered that roll) and truth be told, I couldn’t be arsed to dig a massive hole, I found a barrel planter from eBay. These are perfect for little water feature in your garden, already water tight and a great size they make an attractive addition as a raised planter or a pond.

All seemed well and good and after a quick google I also bought some oxygenating pond plants, a water lily, water iris and some other pink flower that hasn’t blossomed yet and if I’m honest I don’t remember the name of.

Excited to get my pond on the go I ordered the planting essentials being, pond baskets, aquatic compost, stones and waited to get to it. And then waited some more….

As this was at the start of lock down I ended up waiting for quite some time but eventually and to much jubilation they all arrived and I set about creating my pond.

Much to my disappointment, about 3 days in it was rife with mosquito larvae and something else utterly disgusting called rat tailed maggots.. you just don’t want to know. It also started to stink and over the days that followed, as I told myself things were just settling and the fish would eat the larvae and everything would be fine, the water turned a cloudy blue and the two fish that I totally regret buying disappeared….

So… a new tact had to be taken and after a bit more googling I found out where I had gone wrong. I bought a pond liner and decanted all the stinking water out, found the to fish (RIP Pot and Noodle) and started again. The issue was stagnant, gross water that wasn’t getting enough oxygen and some sort of ‘something’ seeping out from the barrel’s wood into the water. So I added the pond liner, which is like a thick bin bag, using a staple gun just above the water line and some intricate folding (find the centre of the sheet and put this in the centre of your barrel. You’ll want a size that’s roughly 2 x 2 meters). After simply cut off the excess.

Luckily, the plants faired better than the fish and went back in along with more oxygenating pond weed, pond snails and a solar powered pond pump which I have been hugely impressed by. I’m always a bit skeptical about solar powered things for the garden as I’ve never had much luck with the lights so this actually working well was a very welcome surprise.

After giving the pond a good few days to settle we introduced a few more fish, three to be exact, though we are now down to two, I don’t think this has anything to do with the water* which is now clear as day and not stinking, much more like the type of thing you would actually want in your garden as opposed to a stinking, larvae ridden cesspit!

*I think the third death was due to fin rot.


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