Preparing for Work on your Garden Pond

Safety        Tools        Space Management        Take a break        Children       

Hopefully, you now have a design for your pond that you have marked out and tested from all the necessary angles. So now you are ready to go. But before you do, here are a number of things to think about.


Unless you are used to doing a lot of digging, this next bit is going to be difficult. So don't be too keen to dig for England on the first morning because you might then have to rest for a week because your back hurts. Its much better to take things slowly and end up fit and healthy and able to enjoy your creation, rather than looking out onto a part finished project whilst you recuperate. One of the best things that I ever did was to buy a border spade. It's only about 3/4 the size of a normal garden spade and I find that although it takes a little longer to dig out an area, the fact that I am lifting less earth each time, means that I don't put so much strain on my back. Remember at all times, try to keep your back straight and use your knees for bending.

Make sure that you have a decent pair of working boots. Even in the heat of the summer, don't be tempted to wear training shoes. A misdirected spade can cause major damaged to unprotected toes. We only get issued with one set of toes so look after them. Any type of gloves will prevent blistered hands and enable you to work longer but its worth buying a proper pair of gardening gloves for the additional protection that they give when compared with a pair of ordinary ones. Top


Apart from your digging spade, other tools that you are going to need are a wheel barrow, a hoe, a level, a plank (or a length of straight timber) and possibly a pick-axe. If you have a really nice lawn, it might be wise to obtain some boards or planks to provide a path for your wheel-barrow so that you don't damage the lawn. If you think that you might have to store any earth or rubble on a decorative patio, use boards to protect the slabs.  Top

Space Management

Think about where you are going to put the earth that you dig out. The ideal use for it is to raise the level of adjacent area to provide for a waterfall, stream, rockery etc, and its easy to think that you would simply do that straight away. However, unless you are extremely lucky, you will probably find that by the time you get to half the proposed depth, the earth that you are digging has changed from topsoil to clay. So you need to think about digging out the topsoil and storing it somewhere in your garden whilst you dig out the clay and use that to make up your next level. Then you can put your topsoil back on top of the clay ready for your plants.

Its at this stage that your garden begins to take on the appearance of a building site. Not least because the volume of earth that results from digging out a hole is invariably at least twice, if not three times, the volume of the hole itself. A friend of mine once ran out of space and had to pile the earth up against his patio door. This is where a bit of planning is needed because you will also need to keep some space for rocks, slabs or whatever else you intend to edge your pond with. Don't worry though, your garden will always recover from any damage you cause.

My experience is that this part always takes much longer than you expect. So you may find that the mess that you make at this stage, lasts for longer than just the odd day, particularly if the weather is bad. For that reason, you need to plan how you are going to manage the space effectively. Such mundane items like getting the washing dry need consideration. No matter how good the finished ponds are, you'll never be forgiven for damaging a favourite item of clothing because you caught it on the side of the wheel barrow as you passed the washing line with another load of earth. (Yes. That is the voice of experience.) Top

Take a Break

Don't forget to take regular breaks, especially if you are not used to manual work. Make sure that you stretch off any part of you that aches, even slightly. Treat gardening as you would the gym; don't launch straight into it without suitable preparation. You will need to ensure that your fluid intake is maintained, whether its hot, warm, cool or cold. I find that a regular supply of ice cold lager works fine for me, but water is probably better and a warm drink is vital in the winter. Top


Once again, I cannot stress enough the need for ensuring that children are safe during your work. Its easy not to notice that they have crept up on you and, believe me, it's very difficult to change the direction of a spade full of earth when you realise that its about to make contact with your curious son or daughter. Also, make sure that they can't harm themselves by tripping over anything that you have left lying around. Gardens can be dangerous enough as it is but during pond construction, extra care must be taken.  Top


Similarly, make sure that you know where any pets might be. Animals that are used to your company will invariably be curious about what you are doing and you don't want to trip over them and fall into your pond hole or onto a tool etc. In particular, make sure that they are locked away once you start working with the liner because a spooked dog or cat can easily rip the liner with their claws.  Top