Making the pond more attractive … to birds as well as ourselves

Almost as long as J and I have been gardening here, say 20 years, we have had a pond. My back still remembers digging the hole one very hot and dry summer at a rate of about ten shovels-full a day after work. As the hole grew, so did a spoil heap at one end and it cried out to have a waterfall cascading down it – and so it came to pass after great efforts sourcing and manouvering heavy stones. Our original thoughts were water plants and a nice shady corner but it very soon became evident that the pond acted as a superb bird magnet, especially during spring and fall migration periods. In particular the small header pool at the top of the waterfall is visited daily by many, many birds who find it just the place for a splash and a refresher. If you follow this journal you will have enjoyed dozens of pictures of some great birds we have seen over the years.

Perhaps as a result of the birds (I am going to blow our trumpet here a bit) a surprising number of people have asked for details of how we built the pool and I have incorporated it into my travelling lecture about wildlife gardening.

And so, twenty years on, still attracting as many birds as ever but starting to look a little ratty around the edges J had the brilliant idea of giving me a professional pond makeover for my seventieth birthday. Although I built the thing when I was 50 some of those stones are way too heavy now for an old geezer like me to play with safely … J reconstructed the stony beach herself (each stone lovingly scrubbed clean in the process) while our contractor friend, Brian who has done so much work on the house in recent years and who does ponds as one of his things, provided guys to redo the stonework around the edge, upgrade it considerably and add a proper final lip to the cascade and in the process incorporating a second, lower level, paddling pool for small birds.

Soon we will be redoing the planting beside the pool and then we can look forward to spring 2019 and a wave of warblers.

J at work on the beach a couple of weeks ago

The completed beach … small Sparrows of many species like this as do Robins and Flickers

The heavy gang experts cut and lay new edging slabs along the southern edge of the pond … the haze in the air is stone dust from their power saw used to shape them (one of the reasons we got in professional)

The finished pond … my 20 year old work on the left and the new stone to the right. By next summer there will be new plantings all along there

The waterfall now has a new lip near the bottom with a proper drop for the water to cascade off and a shallow flat area for small birds to paddle in

Detail view of the modified waterfall with its cascade lip

Thanks Jean – just the thing for an ageing chap to enjoy