Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Creating Our Natural Wildlife Pond

There is not a lot of information out there for creating a natural (no filter or pump) wildlife pond.. So by talking to pond owners, scouring the internet, learning about the balance of plants, animals, oxygen, algae, etc we set out on making our own.

Keeping with the ideas of permaculture we wanted to create a space that outputs more energy then it takes.

We will use a mixture of plants to keep a balance..
Plants we plan on using..
Random oxygenating plants
Water Chestnut
Maybe a lily pad

Placed in wildlife..
4 small feeder goldfish to keep out bloodsuckers
3 snails for algae control

Going on a whim I dug a hole.. 1 1/2 ft wide 4 ft long and 2 ft deep in the middle
I dug out 2 shallow shelves on either side for the plants to sit..

I made sure there were no rocks or other sharp points in my hole..

We first used a old inflatable pool as a liner but it had a hole so we went a got a THICK 9x12 drop cloth.

Ronnie and I spread it over the hole then pushed it in a little and started adding water which naturally pushed it against the walls.. It doesn't sit as nice as a pond liner would but it was $5 compared at $80..

Next we dumped some dirt back in and filled it with rain water..

The secret added ingredient was a gallon of water taken from a already long established pond.. This will help balance out bacteria, algae, and other beneficial microbes..

We then went and got 4 feeder goldfish and 3 black mystery snails..

Some sites recommend a couple fish for mosquito control others say NO WAY.. I'm trying it with just a couple as I was directed by another wildlife pond owner.

Next we got a random assortment of oxygenating plants to start so the fish dont die.. Over the next couple weeks we hope to attain the other plants :)

Remember a natural wildlife pond is not a shiny clear fish pond, its a murky plant paradise where animals, and other wildlife feels welcome..

We covered the banks in small pebbles and rocks, and we will be adding flowers, tall grasses, and other plant life around the edges as well as large stones and safe places for frogs, toads, and other critters :)

I will update as the project progresses, I imagine some things will go wrong because we haven't done anything like this before but I am VERY excited!

The above picture was taken with our original pond liner from a old inflatable pool.. little did we know this liner had a hole and was dropping 2 inches a day.. it was not going to work so we drained the water, removed the liner, and I dug a even BETTER pond :)

So the first thing that went wrong was we lost 2 fish right away..

the second thing is our inflatable pool liner had a hole that leaked 2 inches a day..

we fished as much water as we could out saved the fish and 1 snail (couldn't find the others..) and kept those in buckets.

We laid out the drop cloth liner we got and filled it up with facet water.. because its treated it needs to be left before adding fish or plants.. we left it for over 24 hours then added the original pond water and plants back in, I will let that sit another 24 hours before adding the fish and snail just to make sure (they say 24 hours is ok)!

We did test it first and it held water perfectly!!! :)

I think this pond is better because i got to see what didn't work with the first dig.. it was smaller then i wanted plus steep so frogs, animals, etc would have a problem getting to it.. I dug a deeper, wider pond with more levels :)

This is what the new pond looks like!

Below we a rock fall into the pond were birds can rest for a drink and critters can relax and climb easily in and out!

Below we have 2 views of the pond :) Still missing many of the plants both inside and on the banks, but its coming around!

Above is a sun bathing rock, half in the water half in the sun :)

Above is the bathing rock its propped up by rocks and the water flows underneath creating a perfect hiding spot for toads, frogs, etc

As of October 30th 2011..
As I said this is all a experiment.. we have had to redo this multiple times as we learn.. some things recommended is double or triple the dropcloth liner.. one on top of another (open the cloth lay them on top of each other then place in hole and start adding water).. Lay cardbord or flipped carpet as a cushion on the bottom and sides under the liner to keep rocks/ roots/etc from pushing through.. also scout craigslist and freecycle for a free flexible plastic liner :) the problem with the molded flexible liner is many do not have "shelves" so you have to add more dirt to the bottom and use plants that float or can be completely underwater until they grow up :) you also have to make sure to stick pavers.. rocks.. etc along the edges half into the water so animals can get for a bath/ drink etc

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  1. Great job Brittany!! I can't wait to see it!

  2. Cool!!! Jealous as heck but live at too high of an altitude for this (darn freezes)...Good Luck!

  3. Once I'm finished ill have to update because the liner I used leaked so we had to replace... looks awesome now though :)