Living the little lake life
Why you should build a petite backyard pond
In the heat of summer your local birdlife needs a reliable chill-out spot, a space they can drink and wash in. It’s good for them and it’s great for nature lovers too. There’s more good news too – building a water feature doesn’t need to be a big song and dance. With a little ingenuity and a few easily found materials you (and the birds) can stay happy with your H20.
Not all of us can live on a sprawling estate with acres of space and glorious ponds. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy all the benefits of a cool water feature however. Even the smallest garden or balcony can have a petite pond with the right planning.
A pond provides plenty of change with the seasons too – from icy stillness in winter to buzzing movement in summer. A water feature isn’t just for the birds either. Insects visiting your petite pond will help your backyard ecosystem grow and thrive. And if you want to attract piwakawaka to your backyard a steady supply of insects is always helpful.
Here are a few things to consider when planning your pond.
One: Set the stage. Almost any spot will do for our purposes for a petite pond and the size of the space will affect the shape and style of your pond. For smaller areas something as simple as a sturdy plastic container can be enough to attract insects and birds. Fill the bottom of the container with some rocks and line it with pavers and planting for a simple space. For larger spaces a galvanised water trough can provide a great staging space. Then, if you can, add some water from a nearby pond, as this will likely contain larvae or small invertebrates that will start the life of your pond.
Two: Consider the cat. The presence of local predators is always a risk to local bird life. If the local cats will use the pond as a hunting ground either go with a bird bath, elevate the pond, or keep the space around it clear so the birds can clearly see any threats stalking them.
Three: Steady as she goes. Remember, water is heavy. If you’re building an above ground pond treated sleepers or bricks and watertight lining will need to be stable and strong. If building in a small space or on a balcony remember weight limits and tripping hazards and plan accordingly.
Four: Stay safe. The safety of children around the water feature is crucial. Young children will be attracted to the water so it’s important that you’ve got ongoing peace of mind they won’t be at risk from drowning. If accessible at ground level even very small ponds can pose a risk. So always remember to supervise them and teach them about water safety, like always kneeling around the pond to avoid tripping and falling into the water.
Five: Grow as you go. If you have young children and a large backyard consider starting with a small pond and growing it as they grow. For larger ponds it may be that you have to fence the space to ensure this peace of mind. If you have any doubt as to whether your pond needs fencing we suggest getting in touch with your local council.
Six: Keep it clean. Regular maintenance is necessary to avoid dirty water transmitting disease to birds that use it for both drinking and bathing. You’ll need to regularly change the water and clean out the mess depending on the size of the pond. Always try to do so gently and in stages – you don’t want to upset the natural balance of the pond.