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wildlife pond questions--help, please!

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Old Thursday 15th April 2004, 19:11   #1
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Question wildlife pond questions--help, please!

I hope this is the right place to post this question...
We moved house recently and have dug a garden pond, with a view to attracting wildlife. However there is a high water table and the pond is filling up before we have even put the butyl liner down. Obviously if we just put the liner down there is a strong likelihood that it will just float up from the bottom. I was wondering whether it would be possible to deal with the problem by laying a hose pipe or similar pipe from the deepest part of the pond to a point at the other end of the garden, so that the upwelling water has somewhere to go--or will that make no difference unless we can lay the pipe sloping downwards from the deepest part of the pond? I'd be grateful for any advice!

Also, my wife and I read somewhere that it's a good idea to surround the edge of the pond with upside-down turfs, so that irises and marginal plants can be planted into them. (We want to have native plants so that invertebrates are attracted.) Has anyone tried this? Does it work? I believe that you are supposed to avoid getting too many nutrients into the water so that it doesn't attract great blooms of algae.

Ken
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Old Thursday 15th April 2004, 21:57   #2
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Sounds as though the surrounding garden is draining into the pond. Build up the sides of the pond before laying the liner and then lay the liner over the raised edges.
Once the pond is filled with water, the water seeping in from underneath should not make any difference to the position of the liner.
I read about this in a magazine at the doctor's surgery recently! Can't remember which magazine though.
Hope this helps.
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Old Friday 16th April 2004, 06:50   #3
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Thanks, Roger. But one of our neighbours had the same problem. He put three tons of gravel on the liner to hold it down... but that seems a bit drastic!
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Old Friday 16th April 2004, 14:10   #4
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I don't get it-- why not just use the ground water God gave you? No polyvinyl chlorides, no nothin'....
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Old Friday 16th April 2004, 14:38   #5
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It would be nice if we could, Charles, but life isn't that simple. The water table falls in the summer and rises in the winter. We don't really want a seasonal pond.
The attached pic gives an idea of the situation.
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Old Sunday 18th April 2004, 18:28   #6
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One day later (during which it has hardly stopped raining) and the pond is almost full! I think we'll have to rent a pump!
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Old Wednesday 28th April 2004, 09:33   #7
harry eales
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surreybirder
I hope this is the right place to post this question...
We moved house recently and have dug a garden pond, with a view to attracting wildlife. However there is a high water table and the pond is filling up before we have even put the butyl liner down. Obviously if we just put the liner down there is a strong likelihood that it will just float up from the bottom. I was wondering whether it would be possible to deal with the problem by laying a hose pipe or similar pipe from the deepest part of the pond to a point at the other end of the garden, so that the upwelling water has somewhere to go--or will that make no difference unless we can lay the pipe sloping downwards from the deepest part of the pond? I'd be grateful for any advice!

Also, my wife and I read somewhere that it's a good idea to surround the edge of the pond with upside-down turfs, so that irises and marginal plants can be planted into them. (We want to have native plants so that invertebrates are attracted.) Has anyone tried this? Does it work? I believe that you are supposed to avoid getting too many nutrients into the water so that it doesn't attract great blooms of algae.

Ken
Hi Ken,
You have obviously got a problem. From the look of your photographs you still have some work to do before you put in your liner which should only be put in when you have lined your excavation with a 2" layer of sand. This layer helps prevent punctures from any sharp objects beneath the liner when you fill the pond. I would suggest you wait till the weather man promises a few days good weather. Drain the water from the pond, then whilst the bottom is still damp or wet use a plasterers 'float' to smooth off the pond bottom. Then add your layer of sand, put the liner in position and fill with water, adjusting the position of the liner as it fills.

With any new pond you will get Algal bloom until it settles down. Remember not to put any wildlife in for a week or two. I know it's tempting to do so but not much will survive. If you fill the pond with tap water, never top up the pond directly, you will probably be introducing fluoride. Fill several buckets with water and let them stand for 24 hours before adding them to the pond, Any fluoride in the water will have disappeared by then.

Above all take your time, there's no sense in rushing things. Water plants in baskets are easier to manage than those planted into upturned turfs in that they can be removed with ease if necessary. A good wildlife pond does take some time to make and mature. Enjoy it, there's nothing so peaceful as sitting by a pond watching the wildlife.

Harry Eales.
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Old Wednesday 28th April 2004, 16:55   #8
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Thanks for this, Harry. We've actually had a couple of dry weeks, so we've now done more or less most of what you suggested (except that we're planting some of the plants into upturned turves). We used carpet plus a commercial liner-protector instead of sand, and we hope that it will survive! Now it's rainy weather so we did it at the right moment. We won't add 'pond water' until all the chlorine and flourides have had time to evaporate, as you suggest. It still looks pretty barren but I was pleased to see a frog perched on the marsh marigold leaves before we had even planted it!
Obviously we hope for dragonflies and pond skaters etc. Do you know whether there are any moths that might be attracted to a pond (or bog plants) in particular? We plan to use native species of plants but not reeds which would be too dominant.
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Old Thursday 29th April 2004, 09:31   #9
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Morning Ken,
There are several moth species which may be attracted to your pond. Micro's such as the China-mark moths will soon colonise. Typha (Bulrush) would possibly bring you Bulrush Wainscot, but this plant is very invasive and I would not recommend it for any pond never mind a garden pond. Several moth species may be attracted to plants placed on the marginal ledge of your pond.

Perhaps the best thing to do is get a County List of moth species from your local county recorder. Ascertain which species like semi-aquatic plants for their larval foodplants and then plant these either in the pond or it's margins. Several moths are stem or even root feeders during their larval stage on aquatic or semi aquatic plants, but if these are not recorded from your county, it's little use planting their foodplant. Certainly Pondskaters, Dragonflies, Caddis, Water Beetles, Corixids etc., will all colonise naturally, and often faster than you may expect.

I would advise you to get a very fine meshed 'Pond Net' and obtain a good supply of live Daphnea from a well established pond in your vicinity and release these into your pond, these will provide food for the nymphs of Dragonflies. At the same time get a bucket full of mud from shallows of local pond. This will contain many micro organisms that will be of benefit to your garden pond. To put this mud into your pond simply submerge the bucket full of mud beneath the surface of the pond and let the mud slide out gradually. It may make the pond 'cloudy' for a day or two but the fine particles will settle, adding some nutrients as well as the micro-organisms.

A local friend of mine who put in a pond smaller than yours, had over 20 Southern Hawkers emerge the following year along with a couple of Damselfly species. Where you live you will probably get a lot more Dragonfly species that I do 'up north'.

One 'dont'. If you want insects, whatever you do, avoid having any fish in the pond.

May I wish you the best of luck with your pond, it's a pity more people don't have them.

Harry Eales.
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Old Thursday 29th April 2004, 11:48   #10
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Thanks for this, Harry! I'll keep you posted.
(There's an excellent book on the macromoths of Surrey by Graham Collins which gives a good indication of what moths can be expected. I'll have a look through it.) My wife has already planted some sedges and small marginal plants. We wouldn't want anything as tall as native bullrushes or reeds anyway, but thanks for the warning!
Elsewhere, I'm growing verbena and nicotania, honeysuckle, sedums, hebes etc--but they've hardly got going yet.
All the best
Ken
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Old Saturday 1st May 2004, 13:10   #11
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Almost there!

We've now lined, filled and started to plant the pond.
Pix below show progress.
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Old Tuesday 18th May 2004, 13:45   #12
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It was great to see two broad-bodied chasers flying over the pond in the 'wheel' position and then later to see the female ovipositing in our pond!
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Old Wednesday 19th May 2004, 11:18   #13
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Sound slike fun. I've always wanted a pond but I'm a bit worried about safety with the little kids. Does anyone have any tips on making a child safe pond?

Alan
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Old Wednesday 19th May 2004, 12:06   #14
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Ken (aka Surreybirder) - how big is your pond? From the pics you have posted, it looks more like a lake! Is there a fountain or something - it looks like there is something submerged where it narrows down?
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Old Wednesday 19th May 2004, 13:21   #15
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The pond is about 6m long and 3m wide at its widest.
I don't advise having a pond when you have toddlers--better safe than sorry. We waited till our daughter was about 9 before we dug our first one.
Today we've had large red and azure damselflies ovipositing--and there was quite a large water beetle with very long, paddle shaped middle legs. And a cinnabar moth was flying around the margins. It's really exciting to see what will turn up. Also a hoverfy that I'm not reliable at identifying but could be baltiatus.
We haven't put a fountain in. What you can see may be a submerged oxygenator plant.
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Old Thursday 20th May 2004, 17:37   #16
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Hi Ken,
With the possiblity of young Dragonfly nymphs very shortly, I would advise you remove any large water beetles, both they and their larvae are carnivours and enjoy nothing more than munching on young dragonfly larvae.

Whilst on the subject of food, did you manage to get any living Daphnea and infusorians from local ponds, your young dragonfly nymphs will need something to feed as well.

Harry Eales.
P.S. I said it wouldn't take long for Dragonflies to colonise but I didn't expect it quite that fast.
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Old Thursday 20th May 2004, 18:32   #17
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Originally Posted by harry eales
Whilst on the subject of food, did you manage to get any living Daphnea and infusorians from local ponds, your young dragonfly nymphs will need something to feed as well.
I have read in several places that it is unwise to take anything from other ponds, because of the risk of bringing in some sort of infection.

Last year we bought daphnia from the Wyevale Garden Centre near to us, which has an associated Water Gardens section. On their advice we also supplied bloodworms for the newts in our pond.
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Old Thursday 20th May 2004, 19:14   #18
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Originally Posted by harry eales
Hi Ken,
With the possiblity of young Dragonfly nymphs very shortly, I would advise you remove any large water beetles, both they and their larvae are carnivours and enjoy nothing more than munching on young dragonfly larvae.

Whilst on the subject of food, did you manage to get any living Daphnea and infusorians from local ponds, your young dragonfly nymphs will need something to feed as well.

Harry Eales.
P.S. I said it wouldn't take long for Dragonflies to colonise but I didn't expect it quite that fast.
Judging by the rate at which mosquito larvae are forming I don't think the dragonfly nymphs will starve! We did introduce a few minnows and fresh-water shrimps from a nearby stream, and the oxygenator is also taken from a stream. I think the snails must have come in with the oxygenator. I believe in a 'law of the jungle' approach... I'll not remove beetles 'cos the predator/prey balance should eventually stabilize.
On Elizabeth's point, I'm not too worrried about introducing disease 'cos we've taken water from a stream that's very pure (according to the guy from the rivers authority whom I chatted up).
The pond skaters are arriving in numbers!
What has surprised me is the no. of cockchafers coming into my moth trap at night. They must be very common. I believe that they are vegetarians but I cannot pretend that I'd back them to win the Miss World contest.
Ken
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Old Thursday 20th May 2004, 19:17   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elizabeth Bigg
I have read in several places that it is unwise to take anything from other ponds, because of the risk of bringing in some sort of infection.

Last year we bought daphnia from the Wyevale Garden Centre near to us, which has an associated Water Gardens section. On their advice we also supplied bloodworms for the newts in our pond.
Hello Elizabeth,
It's always possible that some infections exist in certain ponds, however, such things could also be brought into your pond by any visitors. These may be reptilian, avian or insecta. I think here though you are perhaps thinking of the white spot fungus which appears to attack fish. Whilst fish are a popular (and sometimes very expensive) addition to many ponds, they are not a good thing to have in ponds where you wish to attract Dragonflies as many nymphs end up as fish food.

I understand Ken is not intending to put fish in his pond so I think it there is little danger here. I don't know if you have ever bred Dragonflies but one large nymph of an Aeshna species can consume several dozen Daphnea in just a few minutes so a small bag of bought Daphnea wont last more than a few minutes in a pond with dragonfly larvae present.

Collecting Daphnea, i.e. Copepods, Cyclops etc., from a pond won't I think cause any harm, but to purchase the number of these required to stock a large (new) pond could prove very expensive indeed.

Any newly constructed pond will require several years to attract all the wild creatures that make up the food of large predators like Dragonfly nymphs, as Ken has already got Dragonflies ovipositing in his new pond, there is going to be precious little for then to feed on, so stocking it with Daphnea has to be considered if they are to survive.

Dragonfly Conservation recommend taking at least a couple of buckets of mud from an established pond to put into a newly created Dragonfly pond just to add a lot of these small organisms that are so necessary to the health of a pond.

If you are stocking Koi Carp or something equally exotic and expensive then you will no doubt be feeding them with some form of fish food, unfortunately Dragonfly nymphs don't eat such things, so, in the early developement of a Dragonfly pond, these small living creatures must be added if the Dragonflies are going to survive.

Harry Eales.
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Old Sunday 6th June 2004, 16:43   #20
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Quick update: the pond is really beginning to attract wildlife now. We've seen a frog, and a bat hunts over the pond most evenings. Four species of Odonata have been seen ovipositing now: emperor dragonfly, the most recent.
The house sparrows have adopted one bit as their bird bath. There were 13 in or near it the other day. The oxygenators are growing and what I think is water crowsfoot is romping (which is where the damselflies like egg-laying).
I don't think the larvae will be short of food... there's all sorts of stuff in there!
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