Constructing your pond

• You can make a pond in any month but early autumn is perhaps the most practical season, when the ground is neither too hard, dry nor cold.

You don't want to put a spade through an underground pipe! Check your site plans for evidence of buried cables or pipes. You can usually work out where the drains run by following the inspection covers.

Unless you garden on heavy clay, you will need a liner. For very small ponds you can buy preformed liners of plastic or fibreglass, but some of these don't have gently-sloping sides for animals to escape. Some gardeners use concrete, but this is a major undertaking, and can be very expensive. Most people use a flexible liner. The best ones are of butyl or EPDM rubber, and should be guaranteed for 25 years. Don't be tempted by cheap polythene. This often splits and punctures within a couple of years.

How big a liner do you need? Measure the greatest length and width of the hole and then the depth. Add twice the depth to both of the other dimensions. This means that if the length is 3m, the width 2m and the depth 40cm then you need a liner 3.8m long and 2.8m wide. Allow for extra liner so that the edges can be buried in the surrounding soil.

When you have dug the hole, remove all sharp projecting stones or roots that could puncture the liner. This is time consuming, but essential. Locating and repairing holes later is extremely difficult! Add a 2.5 cm layer of damp sand as further protection, or use a fabric layer. Old carpets cut to shape will do, although they will rot eventually and become ineffective. Alternatively, buy

Constructing Garden Pond
Pond watching. Bob Gibbons

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