Whether it's a bleak December or the more mild weather we are becoming used to, you can still spend useful time in the garden. David Coton suggests the jobs that can occupy the shortening days.
Today the most popular way to build a pond is to use either a pre-formed shape or a liner, concrete is more time consuming and can be very demanding, Dan Everton compares the merits of each method.
With the advent of modern plastics, liner and pre-formed ponds have overtaken concrete as the preferred method for constructing ponds, each has its own merits and this comparison will enable you to make up your own mind.
Have a plan in mind of what you want to achieve and outline the desired shape with rope or sand. Then you can start digging.
Create shelves at different depths to accommodate various types of aquatic plants, perhaps very shallow at 2ins, then 5 inches and wide enough to hold containers, and 18 inches. Overall depth should be at least 2 ft and 4 ft if you want to keep fish.
It might sound obvious but make sure that the liner you purchase is the correct size for the pond you are building. Measure the length, width and depth of the pond. Then, double the depth and add the length and width. Now add 2 feet for overlapping the pond edge. This will give you the correct size.
The hole must be level so use a spirit level balanced on a block of wood to check all around the sides. Remove any sharp stones or tree roots that may pierce the liner.
Now line the hole with a layer of sand or other material such as old carpet. If possible warm the liner in sunlight to make it more flexible and shape it into the hole, try to keep wrinkles to a minimum and add a little water to help settle it into place.
Slowly fill with water making sure the liner doesn’t stretch. Trim off any excess liner above the water line and use mortar to fix patio stones or similar around the pond edge to keep the liner in place.
Place the pond (the correct side up, not upside down) where it is to be positioned and mark out by drawing around the shape in sand. Next measure the shelves. Then dig out the shape including the shelves but adding about 5cm to the depth to allow for a lining of sand.
Remove any stones or roots as they might pierce the liner. Then place the liner into the hole and adjust the shape if necessary, making sure it is level (use a spirit level balanced on a piece of wood across the width and length of the pond). Once you are satisfied the shape is correct, line the hole with the sand and return the pond and it should fit snugly.
When you are sure the pond is level, use sand to back fill and compact it to prevent the pond from moving as it is filled with water.
However carefully installed there’s always a chance of some movement, so once filled, leave the pond for at least one week before adding edging stones, plants or other features.
First the hole needs to be dug, about 6 inches below what will be the final depth, making sure that the levels, angles and sides are accurately measured - a formal pond needs to look exactly true.
Then dig a trench, about 4 inches deep by 8 inches across, around the sides at the base of the hole and fill this trench with concrete to provide foundations for the walls.
With the bottom of the hole level, add a layer of sand, compact it firmly adjacent to the wall foundations, and lay 3 inches of concrete. Allow to dry, then add some galvanised mesh and pour another 3 inches of concrete on top.
Once the cement has dried use breeze blocks to form the walls, filing in any gaps and hollows with concrete.
After 48 hours, dampen the walls and skim the entire hole with a ½ inch layer of fibre reinforced cement. Next, use mortar to fix an edging of bricks and slabs, allowing for a 2 or 3 inch overhang. Paint the inside with a good quality waterproof sealant, when that is dry you can introduce water.
Finally, bear in mind that for all types of pond, filters, lights and other features will need electrical and hose connections, so remember to allow space for these while adding any edging materials.
For information on how to introduce plants into your pond, read our blog 'How To Transform Your Pond With Plants'.
With warmer weather and an early Easter, the garden centre is busy at the moment with customers stocking up on summer bedding plants - snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, verbena, phlox, petunia, As well as filling planters, hanging baskets and borders with colour that will last all summer, there are always plenty of jobs to do in the garden during April and David Coton has these suggestions.
Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the bee population over recent years. Intensive farming that demands the use of toxic chemicals, climate change and parasite infestation have all been put forward as potential causes, it's a worrying trend but one that we can all help to reverse.
As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.
Zest 4 Leisure manufactures a large variety of timber garden furniture, fencing and leisure products, David Coton visited their brand new nine acre site near Chester last week to find out more about current development and future plans.