Cre­ate your gar­den patch from scratch

Sooner or later, any wildlife-friendly gar­den needs a pond, so start dig­ging!

Bird Watching (UK) - - Welcome - BY MATT MER­RITT

Ev­ery wildlife gar­den needs one – how to dig a pond!

FEED­ERS AND NEST­BOXES are all very well, but noth­ing will give a wildlife­friendly gar­den quite such a boost as a pond – as well as giv­ing birds some­where to drink and bathe, it pro­vides a home for all man­ner of in­sects (which them­selves pro­vide food for birds), plus am­phib­ians. So, as spring ar­rived, I grabbed the spade and set about cre­at­ing our own mini-wet­land.

We don’t have a huge amount of room, so I set about dig­ging out a tad­pole-shaped plot roughly 2m x 0.75m. The roots of my old en­emy, the in­va­sive bam­boo from next door, made it slow go­ing at first, but once that was cleared it wasn’t too dif­fi­cult – a cou­ple of days of tor­ren­tial rain had soft­ened the ground nicely. You can see a step by step guide to the first half of the process op­po­site, but if I had to em­pha­sise two points, it would be to re­mem­ber to line the hole with car­pet first, and to buy a good qual­ity wa­ter­proof liner with plenty of spare ma­te­rial around the edges. At the mo­ment, the pond still looks pretty much like a muddy hole, but it’s a good idea to leave things alone for at least a few days at this point, to al­low the liner to bed in. Once it has, I’ll crack on with land­scap­ing and plant­ing the edges, as well as in­tro­duc­ing plants to the pond it­self. I’ll be wait­ing with bated breath to see what wildlife turns up – we al­ready have at least one Smooth Newt around the gar­den, so maybe it will bring its friends along. A fence panel blew down a cou­ple of weeks back, and while our neigh­bour kindly re­placed it, he also gave our Field Maple a much-needed trim. While some of the brush cre­ated will have to go, I’ll be keep­ing some to cre­ate a brush pile and a log pile in one of the top cor­ners of the gar­den. Our only new vis­i­tor this month was a Rook ( pic­tured) on the chim­ney stack, but the feed­ers are con­tin­u­ing to prove pop­u­lar, with two Nuthatches now reg­u­lar vis­i­tors, and Star­lings start­ing to drop in from their gath­er­ing point, a large Beech tree just across the road.

Brush piles form a fine com­plex of spa­ces for rep­tiles, as well as nest­ing birds, such as Wrens

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