To make a wildlife garden pond, first find your water

My new pond needed about two and a half of thes to get it half filled

My new pond needed about two and a half of these to get it half filled

Most guides to pond making start with the location and design of the pond.

In fact the most important thing to think about is where the water will come from.

This is because we are so used to getting unlimited quantities of water from the tap that we are often stumped when it comes to finding the several hundred, or maybe even several thousand, litres of water needed to fill a pond with clean water.

So in planning a new wildlife pond – given the importance of getting clean water if we want to maximise the wildlife value of the pond – the key design feature is not what shape or depth or size the pond should be but – how will I get the water that I need to start the pond off.

And that first fill of clean water is critical. Once you got the pond started its easy to find enough rainwater to keep it topped up – mostly the stuff will simply fall straight into the pond from the sky.

But most people don’t have 500-1000 litres of stored rainwater just lying about to get everything started – that’s why this is the most cricital planning step.

You don’t have to store water in rainwater butts of course – any reasonably large clean container will do. Or dozens of buckets!


6 Responses to “To make a wildlife garden pond, first find your water”

  1. Rob K Says:

    There is no way to save rain water where we live in London, and I don’t think rain water collected from the roof would be so clean anyway, what with the dust and dirt from the traffic and the pigeons nesting there. The water from our pond evaporates quicker than it gets refilled by the rain. To maintain the water level I top it up with filtered tap water, (using a “Nitragon” to get rid of the nitrates which cause algae to form), but I have to clean the filter regularly. I was wondering whether it is possible to have a reservoir, that I can fill with tap water which will get sufficiently cleaned by plants, bacteria etc. to to keep our wildlife pond topped up. I want to keep the pond water level where it is because it looks much better then and otherwise some areas are barely deep enough for our water lilies. Is it possible to build a small reservoir that naturally filters the water, and what plants should I use, e.g. like a reed bed filter in a readily available small loft water tank?

  2. Peter Dolan Says:

    I have a small pond, about 2sq. metre * 0.6metre deep, and I top it up with tap water that I have stored in a water butt, 220 litre size from Focus DiY which is always re-filled with tapwater and with it standing sometimes for a week before any topping up is required all the included chemicals have faded, the water is at outside temp. and since the pond is always clear and there are plenty of frogs visiting and the plants are growing I find that this method of storing water is ideal for me.

  3. Jeremy Biggs Says:

    Hi Peter

    The main problem with tapwater is not the chlorine – which does disappear quite quickly – but the nitrogen and possibly phosphorus, which don’t. Depending on where your tapwater comes from (in the north and west its often cleaner) it will have a lot of these fertilisers.

    Basically you don’t want these in the pond – or at least only in the vanishingly small quantities that are natural.

    As you pond is clear and has wildlife (though frogs are not all that sensitive), it maybe that you have clean tapwater or something else is going on to keep things under control – interested to know where in the country you are.

    Your pond sounds good – how about assessing it with the Big Pond Dip (see the Pond Conservation web site).


    • Peter Dolan Says:

      Hello Jeremy

      I am situated in Southeast Durham about 5 miles north of Darlington and hopefully the only reason I have attracted just frogs at the present time is that the pond is only a few months old and by next year other ‘ little critters’ will have found their way to the pond and it will start and function as a wildlife pond.

  4. rose shipley Says:

    I have just bought a pond water feature and am struggling to even put it together. i never thought about doing something to include birds as that is my other passion, i’m hoping the pond will attract wildlife and birds. This site is inspiring me help the local wildlife and dedicate my garden to creating a healthy habitat, i don’t have much space but i really think helping the wildlife and the planet is truly important. I have a waterbutt too although there’s not been much need for it with the recent typical English weather! there’s no excuse everyone can do something to help be more eco friendly!

  5. Diane Says:

    I’d not thought about this before – but I remember some TV show saying fill with a hosepipe and then leave for two days for the nasties to evaporate from the water.

    It’s probably not worth worrying about bits of dirt off the roof or bird much being washed in though – the birds are most likely going to visit the pond anyway. The blackbirds that visit our garden have a bath in our waterbutt which always strikes me as impressive.

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