How to build a pond or water point for the biodiversity of your garden?

The arrival of spring also heralds the return of biodiversity in your gardens. This is beneficial for its balance... provided it is correctly distributed in your land! A well-constructed pond can help you bring this essential balance to your gardening activities. Let's take a look at the different reasons to install a water point in your home this year.

Why install a pond in your garden?

In nature, the notion of ecosystem is a key point in the development of living beings. For simplicity, the ecosystem is an environment within which the different elements, living or not, interact with each other. Essential part of these ecosystems: water, essential to the survival of living beings, whether they are plants or animals! By installing a pond in your garden or on your property, you will create an ecosystem in its own right. It will eventually allow insects and small animals to come and drink there, and aquatic plants to grow there.

The arrival of new tenants in your garden, if well managed, should allow you to improve the way you work there. In fact, many insects will be attracted to your pond. Among them, pollinating insects, essential for the proper development of many crops. Of course, it is likely that it also attracts a few mosquitoes, but these have many predators that could appear simultaneously: birds, other insects, amphibians. In certain water points, it is also possible to install goldfish, which love insect larvae. Be careful, however, not to be overwhelmed by their reproduction, because as you will have understood, the key to the garden to avoid inconveniences is balance, and the right proportion of each species!

Another target of the small predators mentioned above: the slug! If you grow a few vegetables in the vegetable garden, it is likely that you have already incurred the expense of slug population too large. Good news, the arrival of a water point could help to naturally limit the population. Indeed, amphibians, but also hedgehogs, are the main predators of slugs. If they come to drink on your land, it is likely that they will get rid of some of them at the same time! Be careful, however, if you want to give nature a chance to naturally balance itself on your land, it is preferable to stop chemical treatments such as “anti-slugs”. Indeed, predators also risk being poisoned after consuming prey that has absorbed the product.

The following video offers ideas for watering holes of all sizes and gives an overview of the species that can be found there

How to choose your location?

Once the installation has been decided, it is time... to sit down for a moment and think carefully about the type of water point you want to create! Indeed, it's not enough to just dig a hole in your garden for a pond to form there. Let's see together how to prepare your location.

First of all, you will have to choose where to position the water point in your land. To do this, several elements must be addressed:

  • Sunshine on your land
    • In fact, your pond will need around 6 hours of sunshine per day.
    • Light will help plants grow
    • However, full sun exposure is not recommended either
    • Wildlife will need shaded areas to feel good
    • And a pool exposed to direct sunlight could dry out too quickly in summer.
    • And being the target of invasive green algae the rest of the year
  • The presence of deciduous trees (= which fall during the fall)
    • If the proximity of a tree can be a source of shade appreciated by the life of your pond,
      However, it is better to avoid those whose falling leaves could complicate the maintenance of your pond.
    • Even if your water point is equipped with a filter, a large quantity of dead leaves could block the pipes
  • The possible slope
    • If your land is located on a slope, it is preferable to install your pond at the lowest point
    • Thus, the natural flow of rainwater will help to fill it.
    • It will then be more difficult for your water point to dry up in summer.
  • The presence of a compost
    • Although this point may seem trivial, it is nevertheless important in choosing an appropriate location.
    • In fact, the “juices” coming from the compost should not be able to flow into your pond during rainy weather.
    • They are rich in nitrogen, and could cause a strong proliferation of green algae
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As you will have understood, choosing the location of your water point requires taking a whole series of parameters into account. The ideal location will depend on the configuration of your land. But if there is in this one a humid area, located in shade, but with reasonable sunshine during the day, and whose vegetation is not likely to be problematic for your pond, then this is undoubtedly the right place for its installation!

What materials to use?

As we mentioned above, it is not enough to dig a hole in your garden so that the water stays there (unless you have very clayey soil, but this is relatively rare). It will therefore be necessary ensure the waterproofness of your future water point. For this, two main types of solution are possible.

Use a tarpaulin or preformed basin

This is the solution most often used, because it is the simplest to install. If you are new to outdoor landscaping, and you have no (or almost no) DIY/gardening knowledge, this is probably the solution you will need to turn to. Two types of covers or the use of a basin are then possible:

  • A classic liner type tarpaulin
    • This solution is the least expensive, but not necessarily the most judicious
    • A classic tarpaulin will wear out more quickly
    • She will have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years.
    • Ultimately, it will have to be changed to avoid pollution linked to plastic debris resulting from its wear.
    • However, it remains a good solution for small-scale temporary installations.
  • An EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) tarpaulin
    • EPDM is a rubber used in many areas of industry
    • It has very good resistance to bad weather, light and cold.
    • Thus, its lifespan for use in a pool can be up to 50 years.
    • It is also, without being absolutely ideal, relatively less polluting for the environment than traditional liners.
  • A “preformed” pool
    • Particularly well suited to small and medium-sized works
    • You can buy them commercially but they are quite expensive (more or less equivalent to using EPDM)
    • It is also possible to make them using recycled materials, basin, old sink, bathtub, etc.
    • In this case, however, ensure that the material in the container cannot disperse.
      in the environment in case of wear.

These three solutions will easily allow you to create a pond in your garden. But you may want resort to a more natural waterproofing. In fact, in nature, water points do not need tarpaulins to exist, this is explained by the composition of certain soils.

Bring extra clay

Clay soils naturally tend to retain water. It is therefore possible to recreate the correct soil composition at the location of the basin to successfully retain rainwater. Be careful, this method, which is more delicate, can lead to disappointment if it is not carried out correctly. In some cases, it is possible to call on a professional to help you create your pool.

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If you are looking to create an entirely natural pond, expect to have to use a good amount of clay! In fact, a minimum of 8cm of well-packed clay is necessary for waterproofing to take place. Sometimes it may be good to use bentonite as well. This, when used by professionals, is installed in the form of strips (like wallpaper) between which we will integrate clay.

This technique, when correctly carried out, allows the creation of ponds without a cover or container. However, she is reserved for naturally humid and/or clayey soils, and must be carried out carefully to avoid disappointments. The pool should never dry out completely., in fact the clay loses its properties as it dries, and you would then have to start from the beginning.

The video below gives you a technique that will allow you to determine if installing a clay-based pond in your land can be successful:

The different stages of construction

Have you thought carefully about your project and now is the time to build? Let's see together the steps to carry out and the order in which they are carried out:

Step 1: Delineate the contours of your pool

You have defined a location for your pond, you will now have to decide on its shape. For small projects, the demarcation can quite easily be done directly with a spade. On the other hand, if your pool is intended for a larger size, it may be wise to mark out the contours beforehand (for example with rope) to then know where to dig! This will prevent you from having to make corrections during the work.

Step 2: Dig the pond

The time to dig has finally arrived! Depending on the size of your pool and the structure of your land, you will not necessarily use the same method. For a small pond and if the soil is fairly loose, a spade or shovel may be sufficient. On the other hand, for more ambitious projects, it is possible to rent a mini excavator which will allow you to complete this step much faster.

Be careful, this is when you will need to think about points such as:

  • The depth of your pool
    • A depth of at least 60cm at the deepest point is recommended!
    • The deeper the pool, the less likely it will dry out in summer.
    • In general, the ideal depth of a small garden pond is between 80cm and 1m deep.
  • The creation of reliefs
    • It is advisable to vary the depth of your water point
    • This will allow aquatic plants to feel more comfortable there
    • To do this, consider creating circular depth levels starting from the edges of your pool
    • It is as if the pool were in the form of a “staircase” intended to reach the center.
    • On the other hand, the creation of a beach or a gentle slope will allow animals to easily drink from it.
    • It is advisable to create this slope on the south-facing edge of your pool
    • Therefore, the water in this location will be slightly warmer than in the rest of your pool.

Step 3: Clean the excavated surface

To prevent any subsequent leaks, you will need completely clear the floor of any stones or sharp objects that may be there. Once this operation is completed you can:

  • Spread a layer of sand at the bottom of your pool
  • Use a specific geotextile sold for this use
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The longevity of your pool may partly depend on the quality of your protection, so be careful in your work during this step.

Please note, in the case of creating a pool using clay as a waterproofing solution, this step is limited to the removal of stones.

Step 4: Installing the tarpaulin or waterproofing solution

This time again, this is a crucial and delicate stage. If you have opted to install a tarpaulin you will need:

  • Calculate the required tarpaulin surface area
    • The following formula allows you to do this:
    • Cover length = pool length + twice the greatest depth + 1m for the edges and the precautionary margin
    • Cover width = pool width + twice the greatest depth + 1m for the edges and the precautionary margin
    • Other formulas are possible, do not hesitate to use several methods and compare the results
    • If you obtain approximately the same surface area using several formulas,
      this is a good sign that you have the right surface area needed
  • Lay the tarpaulin
    • By checking that it is well flattened over the entire surface of the pool
    • The tarpaulin must not be left visible on the edge of the water point, this could accelerate its wear.
    • You can use different methods, bury it around the edges,
      create a mounting frame that you will then camouflage with decorative elements such as pebbles…

If you have opted for a solution using clay, now is the time to put it in place. To do this, you need to moisten it.. A thick layer (8cm minimum) of clay must be used over the entire surface of your pool. Do not hesitate to smooth the surface by hand. Impoundment must take place immediately after laying the clay because as we mentioned above, this loses its waterproof properties as it dries.

Step 5: Impoundment

This step can be carried out in various ways:

  • Letting the rain do its work
    • The filling will undoubtedly be slow, but it will eventually happen, and this solution does not require any particular effort.
  • Using previously stored rainwater
    • This solution allows greater speed, necessary in the case of production with clay for example.
    • But depending on the size of your pond, water storage can take up a lot of space
    • You will also need to have rainwater collection tanks available.
  • Using “running” water
    • This is a possibility, but one we do not recommend.
    • In fact, it is not the most ecological method.

Important: just after filling with water, your pond may have a cloudy color. This slight inconvenience should, however, gradually pass. The particles suspended in the water will gradually settle to the bottom of the pool and the water will be able to regain its clarity!

To learn more

If you have followed all the steps above, you now have a pool of water. However, its aesthetics still leave much to be desired. To improve its appearance you will need:

  • Install aquatic plants
  • Patience while nature gradually takes over
  • Maintain it regularly

These different points will be the subject of a future article. In the meantime we invite you to share your achievements on our forum !

You can also check out the following video which gives a good overview of what you could ultimately obtain:

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