Ponds and safety
It is essential to plan your pond with safety in mind. The following steps will help to reduce risks for young children:
- Keep the pond shallow, and have wide, very gently-sloping margins all round.
- Have plenty of marginal plants, especially where sides are steeper.
- Don't let the pond surface become completely covered with duckweed or other floating species, which can make a pond look like an area of flat ground and encourage children (and dogs) to walk into it.
- Fence the pond securely. The fence should be at least 110cm high, and with close vertical posts that can't easily be climbed or squeezed between. However, make sure that you can get over or through the fence immediately in case a child somehow manages to get past.
- Strong plastic or metal meshes to keep children completely away from the water are now commercially available.
These are only really appropriate for smaller ponds, and must be properly installed so children can't get under them. Safe commercial models are advertised in garden magazines.
thick polyester matting from lining suppliers. If you have put in a beach area, it can be a good plan to put an extra layer of surplus trimmed-off liner over the liner on the beach, to help protect it from people's feet and dogs'claws.
- What to do with the spoil? A pond two metres by three metres and 50 cm deep in the middle will create two cubic metres of loose soil. If the garden is on a slope, use some of this to ensure the sides of the pond are level all round. Many people use the surplus soil to make a rockery or a bank nearby, and these features can be great winter refuges for amphibians. Make sure the rocks come from a sustainable source, and not from rain-sculptured limestone, and plant the bank with native species to provide cover all year round.
- Digging is hard but satisfying work. Hand digging makes it easier to make modifications and adjustments as you go along. For big ponds, if you have vehicle access, you could hire a mini-digger or approach a contractor for a quote. One digger and its operator can do a huge amount in a day for a modest rate, but make sure that you agree plans and costs in advance.
- Hide the edge of the liner. For most of the pool, the best way to
M0j do this is to use turf. The grass will grow into the pond, making it easy for animals to climb in and out. Beach areas should be covered with fine pea gravel (not sharp edged pieces) and round or flat stones. As silt collects between the stones, plants will start to colonise, so you will protect the liner and have an attractive area of habitat as well.
• You don't need to spread subsoil over the pond bottom to encourage plants. And NEVER put topsoil into a pond, because you will bring in unwanted nutrients.
For more details, consult one of the excellent guides listed at the end of this leaflet.
Was this article helpful?