Garden Progress: Filling in the Pond

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If anyone out there is thinking of filling in a garden pond, you’re in the right place. If you’re not planning to fill in a garden pond read on anyway, for loads of pics of Jamie standing in mud.

I was planning to post this last night but it got to 11pm and I still hadn’t posted it. Being that today was my first day back at work for the year (Happy New Year!) I had to cut my losses and get to bed. Can I just get another disclaimer in here too – our garden. It’s in a real ‘transition stage’ let’s say (it’s a total mess), and it’s not easy to get a British garden to look beautiful in the winter at the best of times. I’m no Monty Don. We have a lot of work to do on our garden, but I’ll post more about than in due course.

Get ready for a post about a very wet, muddy British back garden because we decided recently to fill in our pond. It was a tough decision because it is an eco system of it’s own and I ideally don’t want to be responsible for destroying nature. I love Attenborough as much as the next guy, ok.

The pond though. It was full of frogs. This was a problem for me because I have deep and primal frog fear. I realise that is ridiculous to many. And I honestly don’t wish them any ill-will (the frogs I mean, not the ‘many’). I just don’t want to have to see them / interact with them / worry that if I lie on the grass in the summer a frog will jump on me / be terrified that I’m going to kill one with the lawnmower and it will get all smooshed up and splatter everywhere / have walking to the compost bin at the end of the garden be an adrenaline charged thrill seeking sport. You get the idea.

The pond had been neglected for some time when we moved in. At some time in the past it clearly used to have a working pump and filtration system and fish. You can kind of see that in this old estate agent’s pic from 4 years before we purchased it (I mean it’s no oil painting, but it’s in better nick than when we inherited it):

garden-from-pond-2010

When we moved in it was green, murky, stagnant, and in a weird place (I mean obviously it had always been in a weird place, I’m just illustrating all the problems with it). Also, it’s a funny uneven rectangle shape and just kind of ugly. I mean, let me just say that our whole garden is a weird, awkward shape. It’s a long wedge shape. This is better illustrated in the next pic. I’m just saying, it wasn’t all the pond’s fault. It was doing it’s best under difficult circumstances.

At one point, soon after we moved in, Jamie shot an arrow into it, accidentally piercing the liner and it began to drain.

bow-and-arrow
The fateful day. Booze and archery don’t mix kids.

We kind of thought ‘oh ok, that’s cool, let’s just let it drain then’. Until we had a prod round in it and found some fish in there. So we panicked, put the fish in a bucket and called a pond repair guy who charged us £50 to fix the bloody thing.

Fish back in, water back in, all good.

garden
Here is our friend Al, lying on the grass about 18 months ago. Something I hope to do with confidence next summer. The pond actually looks quite sweet in this pic. WHAT HAVE WE DONE.

2 years later – we are doing some gardening and a frog appears. I mean I always knew they were there – I could see them from upstairs in the house poking their creepy little triangle faces up out of the water when it rained (as if they weren’t already in water, what?) I freaked the f out. I think it was at that point Jamie decided it was time to give up and fill the thing in. Up until then I had been the only one who wanted to get rid, for obvious reasons. #frogfear

So the first thing we had to do was to rehome the inhabitants. The fish were all ‘gone’ by then so it was just the frogs. As I knew I would not be involved in this process I set about doing my part, which involved preparing a net and a bucket with a lid which I drilled holes in for air.

We dismantled the edging and pierced the liner a bunch of times (£50 down the drain cheers pond repair guy).

draining-pond
Jamie using gardening shears to pierce the liner in typical gung-ho style. No frogs were harmed in the stabbing of this pond with giant scissors.

Then Jamie set about catching the frogs. I don’t have any photos of this because I was cowering up by the house shouting encouragement.

I think he caught about seven in the end *shudder*. He then took them up to the woods where he had identified a pond that they could live in. (After we drove round and round for a while as I was convinced there was a lake we could put them in that I had identified on Google Earth which turned out to be fenced off within a gated community). So, off to the woods they went.

After that came the horrendous job of pulling all the stinky, disgusting, super gross layers of pond liner out (with me still half terrified that a frog was going to jump on my face at any moment).

draining-pond-2
After the frogs. Don’t worry, he wasn’t catching frogs with a rake.

Once we got all that disgusting shit out it properly drained and we were able to asses how much soil we would need.

drained-pond

Back on Gumtree and we found someone selling cheap bags of topsoil and rubble. The next weekend when everything was drained and was now just a green mud pit, we went out and filled up the back of the van with bags of soil.

rubble-to-fill-pond

We used some of the ugly edging bits of the pond to fill in the bottom, then the layers of hardcore, and then the many, many bags of soil that we had dragged down the garden. It almost killed us. So. Many. Bags.

topsoil-to-fill-pond
Jamie accurately illustrating how enthusiastic we were feeling after dragging the many, many bags through the garage, down some steps, across the terrace, then more steps, then down the garden.

We didn’t have enough soil in the end to level the pond with the rest of the lawn, but we figured it wouldn’t hurt to let it settle for a while as we knew it would sink anyway. That way we would be better placed to figure out how much soil we need before planting grass seed. Ideally we want to not have a sunken area of lawn forever reminding us of ponds from a bygone era.

So that was back at the beginning of November 2016.

Back to this weekend and we have been to collect more soil that another random dude was getting rid of after levelling their garden. Time to pour it in and let it settle again before we plant grass seed when the weather gets warmer.  This time it was fancy Clifton soil – that’ll raise the value of our property, right?

muddy-feet
Worst gardening footwear ever.

We still didn’t get quite enough soil, but I reckon a couple of big bags of compost and maybe some horse poo and a good rolling will do the trick and make a good base for the grass seed.

filling-pond-topsoil

Oh and we totally effed up the (existing) lawn dragging the bags of soil down the garden over the wet muddy grass (these latest bags were so heavy we couldn’t even lift them so we dragged them using the snow shovel as a sort of a sled).

filling-pond-muddy-garden

So yeah, we’ll be needing a substantial amount of grass seed when the weather gets warmer. Watch this space.

Any thoughts on ponds, mud, gardening footwear or drunk archery? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you… Or, message me on instagram @littlegoldvase.

2 thoughts on “Garden Progress: Filling in the Pond

  1. Are you just going straight to grass? I would totally be tempted to use the opportunity for a garden remodel – incorporate it into a big border, get some dogwood or ornamental grasses in there (for looking good in winter – a Big Thing for me!) Or if you want or to blend with lawn, maybe a touch of wildflower meadow? And perhaps think of a permenant path? Totally understand this sounds kind of overwhelming, but now is a great time of year to reassess the garden!!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Celia 🙂 Hmm my main focus at the moment is trying to grow a screen between ours and the neighbours garden. I will probably continue the row of Photinia’s I planted down the fence. We may well go for a wildflower type meadow actually – that’s a good idea.That’s originally what we (sort of) had at the far end of the pond but it never got properly established. This part of the garden gets the sun first as we are north facing, so it also might be a good place for a table so we can eat breakfast outside in the summer. I totally agree about looking good for winter – I always try to go for plants that don’t lose their leaves when it gets cold. (hence the Photinia / Red Robin row).

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