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(Re-) Planting a garden pond

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: General
Forum Name: Associated Fauna and Flora
Forum Description: A forum for plants, invertebrates and other animals associated with herpetofauna
Printed Date: 23 Jan 2021 at 5:54pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: (Re-) Planting a garden pond
Posted By: Donny
Subject: (Re-) Planting a garden pond
Date Posted: 19 Aug 2011 at 8:35pm
My parents have a small garden pond that due to neglect and a slow leak has turned into more of a 'garden bog'.  A few newts and frogs are hanging in there, but rampant yellow flag iris and duckweed seem to have choked all the other plant life out.  What water there is is clear and there is a healthy insect population.

Anyway, it's a bit of an eyesore, so as I am home for a bit, the iris are getting dug out, the liner is getting replaced, and any remaining creatures will be stored in buckets.

It's already turned colder here in Scotland and I am worried any new plants added now wouldn't have a proper chance and would just perish over-winter.

So, what I am wondering is, should the pond be re-stocked with plants, and if so what is the best way to go about it?  Can it just be left to it's own devices and plants allowed to colonize naturally?   

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 20 Aug 2011 at 12:47am
I think it is always interesting to let a pond colonize naturally with plants. We also need to change our liner sooner and though I planted natives last time I think this time I will just let it do its own thing. I'm a great believer in adding soil to new ponds, it seems to kick things off from the start.

There are plenty of people on the forum more knowledgeable than I regarding pond plants so hopefully someone else will be along soon with more specific advise.

Posted By: B Lewis
Date Posted: 20 Aug 2011 at 4:37pm
Why do you want new plants..? 

I would suggest that firstly, you only manage the pond in the autumn and allow those animals that will move out to hibernate to do so..

Secondly, if the water is good quality and of sustains a good diversity of life then try and keep as much of it as you can by storing it in a water butt or something similar. Even a good amount of the water would be a good option if not all. 

Thirdly, keep a small amount of plants from the existing pond including the iris and others and then just plant up in new pots. You can safely split most robust water plants and even the tubers/rhizome of many of the reed and iris etc.. 

When you reline/re-profile the pond you can simply add the water and plants back in, albeit in less numbers and that way maintain a good system and kick start the pond in the quickest way possible. Also you will help keep from spreading unwanted invasive around that seem to follow 'new planting' of ponds together with diseases etc. 

Remember that when you remove excesses of weeds etc. that you leave them for a period at the side of the pond, say over night or for 48 hrs, to allow invertebrates to make their way back into the water. 

Anyway, hope that all helps? 

Kind regards,


Brett Lewis
Consultant Ecologist | Wildlife Photographer | DICE, University of Kent | Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group

Posted By: Donny
Date Posted: 20 Aug 2011 at 5:07pm
Thanks Brett,

The pond management is getting done now in August because it's the only time I am home (I work overseas) and my parents are elderly.  I know it's not ideal.

As for the plants, I wasn't exaggerating in my first post - several years of neglect and autumn leaves mean that the pond has become little more than a puddle and there is nothing but iris and duckweed in there plant-wise - everything else has been choked off or smothered. 

I will certainly store as much of the water as I can to transfer back to the pond, and I will also leave the stuff I dig out next to it to allow beasties to crawl back in.

Thanks again!

Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 20 Aug 2011 at 7:17pm
Hi Donny,

I would have a look at the materials which Pond Conservation are producing on ponds. It may be an idea to have a look at what beasties you have in the pond before you do any work. The - Big Pond Dip  will enable you to come up with a score of how good the pond is for wildlife.

Following the advice from Pond Conservation try to make the pond have more shallow water. Using children's play sand for the substrate on the bottom of the pond would help protect the liner but also not allow more nutrients into the water. Also I would not use the old water - refill with rainwater. The silt and plants would need to go to compost or use the silt on the garden as fertiliser.

My pond has dried out twice this year and is mainly a temporary clean water pond which is used by frogs plus has various invertebrates from the very small (daphina etc) to the reasonably sized water beetles which have colonised naturally. 

It is the same with plants they can also colonise naturally in the wider countryside - in garden ponds it is more difficult. I have taken small clumps of aquatic vegetation from sites I work on with permission from the land owner. I tend to do what Jeremy Biggs suggests and just chuck the plants and plant material into the pond and let them take their chances. 

If you could I would start over again and build a clean water pond which is not too deep. Allow the pond to colonise naturally (sort of) would hopefully produce a more diverse pond in the garden.

Jeremy Biggs has his own garden pond blog which has a posting on - how to make a really good wildlife pond - this can be very good for inspiration.

Patience is also key when building these sort of ponds which do not completely conform to the usual garden pond design. 


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Posted By: Donny
Date Posted: 20 Aug 2011 at 10:26pm
Unfortunately the pond is in a small corner of a small garden, so I wont be able to re-build it as a dream wildlife pond.  I had a look at that blog though, and my parent's pond is looking almost exactly like a smaller version of this leaf filled school pond: -

Anyway, it's supported a small population of Common Frogs and Palmate Newts for most of the past ten years so can't be too bad.

Posted By: Suzy
Date Posted: 20 Aug 2011 at 11:00pm
Do you think we overfuss when creating wildlife ponds? This year mine is covered in frogbit - nice flowers on now - with a bit of duckweed. The duckweed has been almost overpowered by the frogbit which has taken a few years to get going. I also have 2 types of pondweed which are also almost overwhelmed by the frogbit too. Struggling through all this is starwort - I doubt it'll make it this year. One lone piece of water-forget-me-not is about to flower but the brooklime I totally removed some years ago as it was a terrible take-over merchant.. I want the surface covered to prevent algae, but then I want some clear water to watch the wildlife. I've realised that pond plants are competitive and having a balance is difficult. I've never wanted iris and suchlike but I do plant bog plants next to the pond and frogs like to lurk in there. My pond is a preform and deep in the middle. It probably isn't good for frogs, although there is spawn each year. Because "things" eat the spawn I rear it separately and then return the tadpoles to the pond when bigger. The pond is always busy with frogs in and newts breed and live in there (At least a dozen adults in spring).
My neighbour has lots of elodea in her pond ( I don't have that) and fish but she does really well with tadpoles. She has an amazing hatch of dragonflies each summer too.
Whilst I planted up or introduced to my pond I now more or less let it carry on. I don't much like the duckweed but it doesn't bother the frogs or newts and that's who I created it all for after all.


Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 21 Aug 2011 at 9:22pm
i got a lot out of this thread. thanks everyone for contributing.
despite plenty of amphibians ive always considered my pond too shallow so Herpetologics link was very reassuring.
by the way, i am considering your suggestion (re;setting up an ARG in Glos) and will discuss it with HART when i finally meet up with them - at the mo i have been unable to attend any of their fixtures as most seem to be on Sats and i have to work.

cheers, ben

Posted By: Noodles
Date Posted: 22 Aug 2011 at 9:25am
Attached is a link to The Great Crested Newt Conservation Handbook. There is some good pond management and creation advice pertinent to all amphibians from page 17 onwards. On page 28 there is a nice illustration indicating good plant species (to encourage protective cover and egg laying material for amphibs) with relevance to the different zones in and around your pool. -

Posted By: inade
Date Posted: 24 Oct 2011 at 11:20am
My parents have a garden pond too but unfortunately it is a mess at the moment. Tongue I already planned to re-build it in spring and due to this I checked some - online florists because I have no idea which plants I can use for the pond. I definitely need professional advice. I will collect information in winter and then start in spring.

Posted By: Caleb
Date Posted: 25 Oct 2011 at 9:15am
I've used - to buy pond plants in the past- all of the plants they sell are native.

Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 25 Oct 2011 at 9:23am
I would say use Pond Conservation advice and create a new pond with a liner covered in play sand make it nice and shallow with a few deeper bits to say 30 to 40cm. Fill it with rainwater and then leave it to colonise naturally.

It is hard to leave the pond but you will be amazed at how plants and animals will find your pond. Start off with clean water and add nothing and pond life will find it in a matter of days.

The big plus it is a lot cheaper. Pond life has evolved to find new water bodies

Its great to see how the pond develops as well.

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