Sunday 5 February 2012

Establishing your own wildlife garden - Part 2. Implementation

In Part 1, I talked about the planning process and how critical it is at the start to put a lot of effort into the planing.

In this second part, I will share with you how I implemented the plan, and modified as I went.

I started with a large area of heavily overgrown and very fertile soil - not the best for wildflowers - poor soil is actually much better.

A concrete path, masses of blackberry bushes, brambles, roses, invasive shrubs a couple of small lawns, and four dry stone walls were all surplus to my plan.

It was a daunting task. Access to the area with a mechanical digger was going to be tricky to impossible so it was to be a labour of love, graft, blood, sweat, tears, and bad backs.

I started in the the late May after return from a trip to Mull and so the process began. A hour or so after work before supper, a few hours at weekends. Dig, pick axe through untold numbers of heavy roots. Lots of 'Round Up' down to kill the weeds.

Working systematically, I dug down a couple of foot, cleared roots and burned them off. As I worked from one side, I banked up the soil to create the topography that I was working my plan on, which gave me clearing space to work.

Now, would I have preferred to use a little Bobcat digger? Possibly, but it did mean that root clearance was far more efficient when done by hand. I know if I had used a mechanical digger, I would still be killing off stuff as we go into the fourth growing season. So the hard graft at the start was worth it.

It did mean that progress wasn't very fast, but I had until September until I needed to get seed down.

Large loads of Oak slab wood was delivered and edges were set down as shuttering.

In the area of my raised pond that would act as the feeder pond to the stony stream feeding the main pond, slab wood and posts were constructed to form a sort of terracing so I can build height quickly to overcome the natural slip angle of soil, thus avoiding subsidence.

Concrete paths were bashed using sledge hammers, and the rubble back filled in the raised pond area to save having to get rid of it, and avoid the need for additional soil.

Not wanting a level plot, but having contours meant I had to think carefully about how I distributed the soil to get the banks with the amount of earth available to use.

As the digging continued, progress at times felt impossibly slow, but after about six weeks, I had a couple of weeks of summer leave, and things accelerated.

On the areas I had prepared, weeds started to come up, so these were continually killed off. The local cats loved the fact that they had this massive litter tray that I had lovingly prepared for them....bastards!!

By the end of August, all the main prep was done, mounds and hills built, tree stumps embedded as feeder tables.

The final activity was to build the ponds. I put three in at the first pass. A reflection pool, purely for photographic purposes. Making a rocky mound, I set down some reinforcement mesh, and made a mix of hypertufa, comprising of cement, sand and peat to give it a rustic feel. It was tricky getting it dead level, and it took a number of fine tweaks subsequently with skims of cement.

The second pond was a separate small plastic pre-formed liner placed at the top of the garden near the pear tree. My thinking was to give wither frogs, toads or newts a separate place to go to get away from whatever because the dominant species if it need to.

The main pond was marked out with white sand trail to define the edges, and the digging began. The spoil was moved to create the mound for the final pod that I built a couple of years later to feed the stream to feed the main pond.

The main pond was essentially configured in two parts. The area by the path shelved from nothing to about 8 to 10 inches deep. This shallow area is a great area for birds to get in and bath. It is also very popular with the tadpoles as the water here heats up quickly in the sun.

The other half of the pond was built as a deep sump, about three feet deep. This is to give the overwintering amphibians, and damsel / dragon larva plenty of ice free water during the depths of winter.

Side shelves to a depth of about 1 foot were also made to provide for marginal planting.

The pond was lined with a heavy butyl rubber and the 'beach' was covered with slate stone to cover the rubber liner.

A trip to a local water garden centre resulted in the purchase of a number of native UK species.

With these placed, the pond was filled.

It was now the first week of September. Time to order the seeds.

In the third part of this series, I will take you through the planting and first year growing season. I will even get some pictures for you. I have been through my archives and have struggled to find any pics of the build process.


1 comment:

  1. Nice post. Thanks for sharing about this kind of wildlife photography!!!