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What to put in the bottom of a Wildlife pond?

North Yorks, United Kingdom

Read that soil is placed over top of liner as pool filled to allow plants to grow on pool floor.This true as seems bonkers even for me to put soil back in the crater Ive just dug! Help.thanks



Imagine what a natural pond would be like. It would have a layer of non-porous soil or rock, keeping the water in, and above that a (perhaps very deep) layer of wet soil.

The plants in your pond can't put their roots into the liner - so definitely if you want a living pond, put some soil back in. That could mean you need to dig deeper to end up with the size of pond you want. Bad luck!

7 Apr, 2008


First time I've heard this advice and it's set me thinking ....... wouldn't the soil need to be aquatic ie. poor soil, otherwise the water would certainly be alive, more of a pea soup than a pond. The containers used for planting aquatic plants seem to contain sufficient soil to support them, indeed in my experience they frequently require splitting because they have outgrown the space and container alloted to them.
Imho if a natural pond is desired, then the pond would be created using non-porous soil (clay?). Many of us use liners to simplify the pond making and maintaining process ........ I shall continue to put soil only in the containers my aquatics grow in.
The year before last I saw 'planting socks' for aquatic plants on sale at the Gardeners' World Live Show. In retrospect I wished I had bought some to experiment with, until I found fabric planters for the same purpose a few weeks ago at a Water Garden Centre. I am hoping they will mould themselves to the shape of my pond shelves and be less likely to fall into the deep than the plastic baskets, and may be easier to manage when plants need thinning.

7 Apr, 2008


Yes, Xela is right. You should use aquatic compost in a pond. This is low in nutrients so should not encourage the green algae that makes water go cloudy. You should be able to buy it at any good Garden Centre

7 Apr, 2008


I'm a bit confused making a wildlife pond,so do i put garden soil in the bottom,mine is heavy clay,is that ok to use or do i use aquatic soil..thanks for any help

5 Apr, 2009


If you put heavy clay in the bottom of your pond you will be putting in nutrients which neither the plants nor the fish need but the algae with love you for it. Clay was used to line the hole before modern liners came along because a thick layer of clay will hold water. I would definitely advise using aquatic soil for planting in ponds.
In fact, I wouldn't line the bottom of the pond with soil, you may be surprised by how much sludge collects in the depths of a living pond. I have used plastic baskets for aquatic plants in the past but am very happy to have found the fabric planters, they mould to the shape of the pond and stay in position better.

6 Apr, 2009


i read not soil but childrens sand as its nothing in the infect your wildlife pond, i know im late here but im reading up as im going to be making a wildlife pond to

21 Nov, 2009


Thanks Sandra originally posted this as was making a wildlife pond at the time a series on TV showed how to do it ..

Found it hard to believe when suggested fleece below liner then liner then more fleece on top then soil ? The theory being that plants would merge and establish themselves ..this was ordinary soil not the aquatic compost and must ve taken months to clear and settle.

Personally glad ignored this as seems to be Ok without yes used sand and then old carpet newspapers waste plastic bags to protect liner too .

Good luck ..its a great thing to have and soon becomes a magnet for all sorts of wildlife.

22 Nov, 2009


thanx ray, i realised this was posted a while back but just looking at all options, but like you think sand and something to cushion liner, also i think all addvise as been try and fill with rain water to, did you do this :o)

22 Nov, 2009


Hi Sandra even a small pond holds hundreds of gallons of water ours at 22 x 18 holds thousands ..rainwater ideal but impractical to collect in such amounts .

Its recommended to avoid the things that included in tap water and to reduce that pea soup effect you get when tap water first added.Pond will get covered in green algae on surface but will clear as water settles.

Took about a month for ours to clear naturally and frogs toads dragonflies not to mention all the birds happy to use it .

22 Nov, 2009


yes that big isnt practical i can see ray,, mine will be alot smaller but probably will have to use tap water depending on rain fall when i do it,thanks for all your advice its much appreciated :o))

22 Nov, 2009


Youre welcome I found a lot of the recommendations can be modified to suit your own needs advised not to make a pond on sloping ground or between trees did both and think it turned out Ok ..

22 Nov, 2009


well my trees have gone and cant say if it will be sloping untill i sort them stumps out, anyway time will tell next spring :o)) going to go back and look at your pond, do you have an overall pic of it ray?

22 Nov, 2009


Tried to find overall pic bit difficult to get everything in one shot so put pic on for you least we can keep pond chat on one photo

22 Nov, 2009


lol will look ray :o)

22 Nov, 2009


You use aquatic soil for garden ponds and use special plant pots for plants unless you have got water lillies.
We put special gravel on the bottom of our pond.This gravel you can also get from the below sites

The pots you can get from most garden centres and aquatic centres who specialise in ponds

5 Feb, 2010


Thanks Hijuju originally asked this question as had seen and read suggestions that ordinary soil could be placed back over liner when creating a wildlife pond.

Chris Beardshaw did this on a BBC programme a while back lined the pond with fleece then liner then more fleece on top of liner then soil then filled pond .

Apart from the expense this seemed like over kill and would take months for pond to settle and clear.The theory being that plants would naturalise they would in larger lakes and pools.

Could nt bring myself to do this and filled pond and used aquatic compost for plants .. wildlife not objecting .

6 Feb, 2010


Hi there - somewhere in the back of my mind i have the idea thati've read that putting, progressivly, sand, small pebbles then larger and larger pebbles will create a self filtering system ... i think it was to do with aquariums but i see no reason it shouldnt work in a pond - have four ponds myself - two very large and two smaller and a cacophony of sound on rainy nights - frogs i mean of course - five species and growing - luckily i have neighbours who are interested not annoyed!! live on the mid east coast of New South Wales Australia so its sub tropical - i'm going to try this method in my big ponds - the small ones stay clear of their own accord for some reason but the big ones can get quite green ... my first attempt at a blog so hoping this is the way to do it - Cate =)

14 Feb, 2010


Thanks Cate.....the pond has now been in place for a couple of years...and we are lucky to have wildlife galore in and around it.Frogs,toads,dragonflies etc...and the birds love it too...

21 Feb, 2010

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