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Here at Swell UK HQ we are dedicated to helping pond dwelling creatures thrive; be they fish, amphibians or insects. It’s a sad fact that in the UK many of our most well-loved, pond dwelling species are disappearing at an alarming rate due to a reduction in natural wildlife ponds and bog areas. But the good news is that there is something you can do to help!
By creating your very own mini Eco Pond you can help numerous species of amphibians and insects to flourish. Even better, anyone with access to outside space can easily create an Eco Pond, regardless of garden style, size, or gardening ability.
The choice of what to use as your pond container is entirely up to you. Your container could consist of anything from a washing up bowl (able to hold around 5 litres of water) to an old half barrel that holds 100 litres of water. Feel free to be as creative as you like!
Eco pond kit essentials
Here are the basic elements that we would suggest including in your Eco Pond set-up:
Elodea (or pond weed as it is commonly known) helps to oxygenate pond water as a result of photosynthesis. This is key as a well oxygenated pond is essential for breaking down decaying vegetation and waste as well as the survival of plants and pond dwelling wildlife.
Pebbles can be used to create a ramp pathway in and out of the water, meaning that creatures can get in and out more easily. They can also be used to weigh down any other plant life you might choose to add. We’ve used Burmese Pebbles in our Eco Pond, mainly because we think they’re colourful whilst still being natural. It’s really important to ensure that whatever size your Eco Pond ends up being, you have a way for creatures to get in and out as safely as possible.
Bogwood helps to create a surface for creatures to climb on and could even be used by birds to perch on. Moss will grow over it too, creating somewhere for insects to live.
You probably won’t need one but it’s always worthwhile to have. This may be needed to take out fallen leaves or debris, or just to investigate what might be lurking at the bottom!
This is essential if you choose to use tap water. Dechlorinator helps to remove all of the harmful chlorine and chloramines found in tap water, making it safe for aquatic life to survive in. Do bear in mind that if you top up the Eco Pond at any point in the future you will need to use a dechlorinator every time.
Adding a little food will help to encourage wildlife to your pond.
The creative part
In terms of the container that you use to house your Eco Pond, the choice is very much up to you! To give you some ideas we have found that anything from a stackable plastic tub to a washing up bowl, toy box, empty bucket or even an old sink or barrel works a treat! Essentially anything that holds water will work nicely. Make sure its water tight – some items may need a bit of aquatic sealant first to block any holes. We do sell some ready to use colourful containers which are perfect for patios.
Steps to setting up your Eco Pond
Your container will need to be buried in the ground, mainly to ensure that it isn’t knocked over, for example by a strong wind, and also that it is not too high for wildlife to crawl into. Obviously how deep you bury it will depend on the size and shape of your container. Ideally, with something like a bucket for example, we’d aim for at least a third to be buried in the ground. With our pond we found that whilst digging out the ground to bury our bucket, we made a bit of a mess around the site. To combat this, we used some turf from another part of the garden to lay around and over the bucket, making it look a little more natural. It was still very muddy around the edges though, so we used excess pebbles from a pathway to link it to another area in the garden. These were just things we happened to have laying around, you could use less or more, depending on what you have access to.
Start by placing some of the pebbles at the bottom of your pond then add plants and decoration in and around it before adding water. This way it will be easier to adjust and rearrange them. The plants come with a small weight on the bottom, don’t remove this otherwise they’ll float to the surface of the pond and break down very quickly. It will also mean that they will have a chance to grow roots and latch onto the pebbles at the bottom of your pond. We found with our pebbles that we could use them to link to the new pathway we had made as well, which just made it look nicer and fit in a little better. We tried the plants and bogwood quite a few different ways before deciding what worked.
Again before adding water you need to add a ramp in and out of the pond to ensure all your new additions can access it easily. We would recommend using the bogwood for this along with some of the pebbles in order to secure it. We used our bogwood sticking up, for birds to sit on, and then had our pebbles coming out creating the
perfect ramp for smaller creatures.
Now it’s time to fill the pond. Be sure to measure how much water goes into it so you can accurately dose the water with your dechlorinator. If left untreated, chlorine would break down naturally from tap water, but more harmful chloramines won’t so do always treat any tap water before putting it into a pond. Ours only takes a mere 8 litres, and we found the water level went down by about a third within two days, so we had to top it up almost straight away and treat those few extra litres as well. Other than a few snails it’s pretty sparse still, but as the weather gets warmer we’re expecting big things!
Once your basic set up is complete, it’s all about what else you might have lying around to make your pond more personalised. Further on in this guide you will find a list of ideal plants to put in a pond and also plants that are great at attracting wildlife.
If you’re looking to attract particular species of wildlife to your Eco Pond, then we have some top tips in order to help you out.
Attracting frogs and newts
Frogs need ponds to breed and tadpoles will feed on algae in the water. Ensure that the plants in your kit as well as additional plants provide valuable shade and cover from predators for both frogs and newts.
Attracting butterflies and bees
Add some pollinator plants around your pond such as lavender, bramble, hebe, marigold, mint and primrose.
Birds will visit ponds to drink and to bathe ensure there are areas for them to perch in and round the pond.
Best Pollinator Plants – for bees and butterflies
Lavender, Bramble, Hebe, Marigolds, Snapdragons, Dahlia, Mint, Privet, Primrose, Thyme, Fennel, Pansy, Daisies, Hyacinth, Onions, Sunflowers, Forget-me-Nots, Dandelions, Ivy, Heather and Strawberries.
Best plants for ponds, marginals or wet soil
Marsh Marigold, Meadowsweet, Common Skullcap, Common Valerian, Willowherb, St Johns’ Wort, Iris, Gypsywort, Creeping Jenny, Water Mint, Watercress and Waterlillies.