Mary Keen: How to make a garden pond that's perfect for swimming

Mary Eager: Easy methods to make a garden pond that is good for swimming

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Gardening author Mary Eager shares skilled tips for minimising the algae and maximising the enjoyable.

There’s nothing to match with a bathe in a wild place, because the wild-swimming craze testifies, however even probably the most intrepid plungers into murky lakes fear about clingy water weed and the specter of a mouthful of mud. Or worse. The query is, can garden ponds and lakes ever be made extra welcoming?

Nick Haycock, the reassuring and authoritative skilled on nonetheless (and operating) water, is aware of precisely easy methods to reply that query. Swimmers within the Hampstead ponds or the Serpentine have him to thank for purer water and admirers of stately lakes at Blenheim and Stourhead, and even guests to the Venice lagoon, can see how he has labored his magic.

The founding father of Haycock Environmental Consultants (HEC), Dr Haycock is devoted to the restoration and creation of waterscapes. His method is scholarly (he spent years working for the Nationwide Belief) and he usually depends on strategies that have been present within the 18th century, mixed with Twenty first-century expertise.

With such a high-profile shopper listing, it is perhaps thought that smaller personal ponds could be off his radar, however water in any form or measurement fascinates him. In his care, limestone ponds can flip blue. ‘It’s an exquisite second,’ he says, ‘when a shopper rings to say, ‘our water is blue now”.’ It’d take a few years for this to occur and he has a spread of treatments on provide to hurry the method.

The recommendation I watched Dr Haycock give native mates of mine within the Cotswolds was invaluable. Homeowners of one thing between a lake and a pond, which they generously share with mad-keen swimmers, they dedicate days to clearing waterweed from its depths. Final summer time, despite their efforts, the algae on the floor was smelly sufficient to repel even probably the most decided bather.

All ponds are completely different, however Dr Haycock has a guidelines he makes use of for any session. The primary issues to be fathomed are construction and depth. He begins by checking the kind of soil that incorporates the pond. My mates’ one is above fuller’s clay, which has pure cleaning properties. Bentonite, which is usually used to line pure ponds, has some comparable attributes. (Any clay-lined pond must be saved full. If the water stage is allowed to drop, cracks can seem within the clay, that means that leaks will happen.)

A lot relies on whether or not the water goes for use for boating, swimming or fishing and depth is essential — 6ft at the least is important for a wholesome pond. Thermal management is one other limiting issue. Colder water discourages algae, which bloom at temperatures above 12˚C–15˚C. Above 25˚C, there’s a threat that the lethal blue-green algae can develop. In my mates’ case, in addition they personal a mill leat upstream, which was pronounced splendid to extend cold-water circulate by way of their pond. (So long as no more than 20 cubic metres per day is taken from a stream or river, the abstraction wants no licence from the Surroundings Company.)

Subsequent is the problem of marginal planting. Waterside crops ought to cowl at the least one-eighth of the whole space to offer a spot for invertebrates to reside, in order that they’ll enterprise out at evening to eat waterweed and algae. For individuals who have neither the time nor the inclination to handle crops, an alternate house for the algae grazers might be made by throwing a number of tied bundles of sticks into the deep water.

Barley straw is usually advisable for purifying ponds, however this, Dr Haycock says, is a fable. Straw doesn’t have any specific chemical qualities that clear the algae, though sheaves of it thrown into the water can act in the identical approach because the bundles of tied faggots would possibly do, if much less successfully. Grass carp are one other pure approach of preserving waterweed down, however they shouldn’t be allowed emigrate to a river, so these fish will not be an choice if the pond water runs off right into a stream.

Checking the chemistry of the water, which may have develop into polluted, is one other activity, however adopting the regimes Dr Haycock outlines will normally cope with any air pollution.

If pure treatments fail, he would possibly counsel including ultrasonic aeration to spice up the circulation of the water; he hardly ever admits defeat. His calm and educated methods of preserving water welcoming ought to reassure even those that have by no means considered swimming anyplace however a chlorinated swimming pool.

‘Paradise and Loads, A Rothschild Household Backyard’ by Mary Eager is out now

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