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DIY Container Pond

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A pond is a great addition to the garden, but building one can involve some serious hard labour. So, if you’re short on time or space, ditch the digging and create a quick and easy container pond. The finished result will add a different dimension to any small space, bringing the cool, calming presence of still water to the garden, attracting lots of wildlife and giving you the chance to grow a whole new range of interesting aquatic plants. This garden feature is great fun to plan, quick and easy to make and, if you add the right plants, will stay clear and fresh with minimal amounts of care.

What you need:

  • A container
  • Aquatic baskets and/or containers
  • Shelving
  • Water
  • Plants

Step-by-step DIY container pond building

Step 1. The first thing to do is to work out the best location for your container. A bright position, with sun for about half the day, is ideal, as this will provide the best conditions for your plants without encouraging too much algae. If your garden is shady though, don’t despair, there are still interesting and attractive aquatic plants that will thrive in these conditions. It’s best to pick a spot away from trees, so you can keep your container clear of dead leaves and other litter.

It’s also worth thinking about the backdrop you’d like for your container. You could make use of existing plantings or pots, or you could plant up some specimen aquatic plants in separate containers to set off and harmonise with your container pond. Finally, if you have small children, you’ll need to make absolutely sure they can’t fall into the container, however small or shallow it may be.

Step 2. Put in the shelving frame or blocks/bricks, making sure that you will have the appropriate level of water coverage above the plants you have chosen. Our waterlily, for example, will be sitting on a small block on the base of the container, while our marginal plants will be placed in the frame.

Step 3. Place your container in its final position. Once it’s full of water, it’ll probably be too heavy to move.

Step 4. If you need to plant up or repot any plants, you’ll need to do this now. If your aquatic baskets have very fine mesh, you can plant straight into them. If not, it’s best to line your baskets with a thin porous material such as horticultural fleece or hessian to prevent soil washing out into the water.

Part-fill the basket with aquatic compost so the plant will be sitting at the same depth as it was in its original container. Then take the plant, spread out its roots and put it into the basket, back-filling carefully with more compost. Firm plants in securely, water well and put a thin layer of gravel over the surface to stop compost washing away when the water is added.

Step 5. Place your plants on the base of the container, in the frame or on bricks, at their preferred depths in the water.

To get our waterlily at the right depth, for example, we’ve cut a hole in our frame and placed the pot on a small shelf placed on the base of the container. Meanwhile, we’ve raised the primula slightly higher than the level of the frame, using a clean pot saucer. You can then play around with the arrangement of the plants until you find the one that works best. Just remember not to add the oxygenating plants until the container has been filled with water.

Step 6. Once your plants are in place, you can add the water. The easiest option is to use a hosepipe but try to add the water gently, with minimal disturbance to the plants and the compost. When your container is full, check each plant is still in the right position and none have toppled over. You can then add in the oxygenating plants.

Step 7. Add the recommended amount of extract of barley straw solution to help to keep the water clear of algae.

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  1. You should be kind and add one!