Clearing Out The Pond

Wildlife Kate

Without doubt, the best thing you can add to your garden, to help attract wildlife is a pond. It doesn’t have to be huge, but the bigger, the better. Having said that, even a washing-up bowl sized pond is better than no pond at all! Ponds, even the smallest ones, can attract frogs, toads, and a host of invertebrates but they also provide wildlife with a place to drink, bathe and even hunt.

My pond was one of the first things I added to the garden, some 20 years ago. The garden was completely overgrown when I purchased the house and it took many years to get it looking like a garden and I couldn’t wait to get a pond in. My pond is quite a modest size; about 3m x 2m, with a small stream using piped water from the pond, up through a filter and down the stream.

Every year, I cut back the foliage around the pond, as it grows so quickly, but it has not had a proper complete clear-cut for a very long time. The yellow flag had become so huge, that 3/4 of the pond was the corms and root system of this species. It got to the point this year, that this foliage took all the water out of the pond and there was very little visible water surface. This has meant less of a habitat and hardly any dragonflies and damselflies and I had not seen any there this year. When there was more open water, they would be common visitors. I knew that I needed to take some action to get my pond back to a habitat that would offer the wildlife as much as possible.

Clearing out even a small pond is a pretty big job, so when a friend came down for a few days, I took full advantage of an extra pair of hands and put him to work in my pond!

It was difficult to know where to begin… I could hardly see the pond and there was very little water left in it….

We started by cutting back all the foliage around the area. It is lots of ferns and these will all spring back to life next year.

As soon all the foliage was removed, it was clear that almost 80% of my pond was Yellow flag roots! So heavy and thick, it was a very slow job cutting through small sections at a time at first, being careful not to puncture the liner. As we removed sections, we were able to get a spade underneath and hack of larger sections, some so large we could only just lift them between us!

Once all the yellow flag has been removed, we were then presented with about 30cm of stinking mud! After a lot of slopping mud and buckets up to the compost heap, we left some in the bottom and I could finally be reminded how large my pond actually was! I checked that there was no wildlife hiding in the mud and foliage and the frogs I found were returned to the pond later that day.

It was then a matter of topping up the pond… I wanted to check there were no leaks before I put the pump back on and got the stream running again. It will spend the winter settling back down. I need to do some more work now on the surrounds and replant some of the shallow edges in the Spring. Next year, it will spring back to life and I hope to see damselflies and dragonflies using it again.

I will be returning to the pond in the Spring for some updates.