Waterpond

To create a pond in the garden is guaranteed to attract dragonflies and toads (precious consumers of the snails and slugs), favour the biodiversity and equilibrium of the garden, and treat oneself to endless hours of observing and contemplation.  Here is a proposition from RJSM gardens.

Objectives

Objectives of the practice 

  • To favour biodiversity, welcome protected species (amphibians).
  • To enhance the ecological equilibrium of the garden.
  • To create a nice place in the garden.

Objectives of the leader who implements this practice with his public

  • Contribute to the knowledge of beneficiaries.
  • Enhance the garden with a new asset.

Objectives of the Grundtvig Program of education throughout life to which this activity is connected:

•   Helping people from vulnerable social groups:

Because the practice can contribute to the environmental education of everybody.

Possible educational objectives:

  • Knowledge: aquatic fauna and flora, water cycle, protection of species.
  • Skills: using specific tools, project.
  • Behavior: respect of environment, team work.

Materials

For the participants: appropriate equipment and clothing

Conception:

paper, pencils

Realisation :

shovels, spades, pickaxes
gloves
small stakes and rope
decameter
water level
wheelbarrow
waterproofing system - there are different options (natural waterproofing, concrete, tarpaulin: rubber, EPDM…), we chose to use a tarpaulin so we needed:

tarpaulin cutter
sand
fine mesh and wire cutters (optional)
protective felt geotextile or carpet
clay and earth
water
rope net
stones
plants

Implementation

Define what you expect from your pond :

For example conservation, protection of species, educational tool, ornamentation of your garden, relaxing and socializing place...

Find the right place:

Better not on a slope, but at lower point of the ground, be careful of rain flow (upstream pollution), few trees (leaves will clog the pond, sunny exposure will mean evaporation), possible water sources to fill the pond, possible size…

Draw your plan:

Consider shape (natural or not, diversity of places and point of view, restriction due to your waterproofing technique –e.g. size of tarpaulin available), depth (a low water will evaporate faster in summer, and be covered by ice in winter) and the possibility to install vegetation (profile with steps, different slopes).

Get your material : See list of materials

Draw, dig, give the shape

Check the level of the bank: use a water level.

Prepare the bottom:

Remove any stones,

place a wire mesh to protect your tarpaulin from rodents,

place a layer of sand (5 to 10 cm) that will protect your tarpaulin and adapt to the shape,

cover with geotextile or old carpet,

check your banks.

Install the tarpaulin.

Fill in with water: rainwater is certainly the best but you could make do with drinking water - the chlorine will evaporate quickly.

Install plants: the animals will come by themselves once a suitable habitat is available:

  • You should consider introducing only native plants, especially if you have an objective of nature protection and conservation.
  • It is sometimes possible to take plants from other natural local ponds. Caution: do not take anything from protected areas, do not take rare or protected species (list available at you national agencies), make sure you have a good identification guidebook, respect the environment and take only small quantities, ask permission from landowners…
  • Invading plants: consider installing them in a flowerpot to limit their development and be able to cut off the excess after a few years.
  • Oxygenating submerged plants: you can weight them with stones and clay, and just throw them in the pond.
  • You could just wait, plants will come naturally, it will just take a little patience.

Do not introduce animals: in France amphibians are protected species, you cannot take some from nature, nor even transport them. Check your local regulations.  And anyhow the animals will arrive by their own means when the environment has been adapted to their needs. The aquatic insects can fly; the amphibians will find your pond during the reproduction season. Take the time to consider before introducing fishes: an ecologically sound pond does not foster mosquitos as the larvae are eaten by numerous predatory invertebrate. Fishes on the other hand are voracious predators that can eat most of the invertebrate fauna of your pond as well as the mosquito larvae.

Observe and enjoy !

And after : taking care of your pond :

Naturally the fate of all ponds is to fill up and disappear. You could choose to let it be and observe the ecological succession of environment and associated flora and fauna, or you can choose to artificially maintain your pond: you will need to clean up the sediments every 2 years or so. Be especially careful not to damage the tarpaulin in the process.

Evaluation

A diary of your observations and photos taken regularly from the same places around your pond are interesting tools.

Depending on your objective behind creating the pond different tools for evaluation can be used.

Tips

Circulating water is better oxygenated;  you could use a pump to create a flow, with a little fountain or cascade to help with the quality of the water, especially if your pond is small, or subject to high temperature levels (sunny exposure). The pump can be connected to a solar panel for electricity.

To give the impression of a bigger pond and not spend too much on the cost of the tarpaulin why not make two smaller ponds one next to the other? You could even hide the separation by a low bridge.