Restoring a neglected garden pond may seem a massive task. But, before you consider that the only solution is to drain and completely clean out your pond (unless you know that your pond liner is damaged and requires repair), pause for a moment as what can seem overgrown and dying may be a valuable wildlife sanctuary. Ponds with a thick cover of plants are often richer wildlife habitats than open waters. Having said this you may want to rather take the following more sensitive steps in your ponds restoration.
- Take out about a third of plant growth. In summer plant cover should be over 60 to 85% of the total water volume. Natural colinisation happens in a pond that receives some daily sunshine.
- Leave areas of marginal plants to connect your garden with your pond and provide a habitat for pond animals
- Avoid using chemical to clean your pond water as these are poisonous to wildlife
- Drag a hessian sack across the surface of the water to remove an oily film caused by decomposing leaves of deep-water aquatic plants.
- Cut back overhanging tree branches to reduce the amount of shade cast across your pond as well as the number of dead leaves falling onto the water surface.
- If you are carrying out pond restoration during the autumn or winter months, take care not to remove any vegetation or debris from the bottom as you may risk disturbing hibernating frogs. The ideal time to restore a neglected pond is between November and January, a period where minimal disturbance will be cause to wildlife.
A well maintained pond means one that is in good health offering a rich and varied habitat for wildlife. When conditions are good, aquatic plants will grow in abundance and it is at this point that problems could arise. If the pond is suddenly neglected, plant growth will continue until it becomes so dense creating a restoration challenge. Debris sinking to the bottom of a pond can also lead to the decline of a once healthy pond. So, before commencing with restoring a neglected garden pond it is best to deal with the causes first and then tackle the symptoms.
If you have a flexible pond liner you need to make sure it is not damaged and that the edging around your pond is still supporting the structure of your pond and protecting the overlay of your pond liner from UV rays and visitors to your pond.
Any vegetation and debris removed from the pond should be left to the side for a few days so that any critters inhabiting the pond will make their way back. Following these steps will help ensure you maintain the treasured wildlife and therefore ecosystem.
What else do we need to consider when restoring a pond while at the same time conserving its wildlife?