Saturday, 23 May 2009

Half barrel pond

Half barrel ponds are great for small gardens. It just so happened the one I set up last year needed a bit of a facelift.  
Here's how I got on.

As shown in the picture above the area around the pond was covered in gravel.  The whole garden was awash with it when I moved in around two years ago and it has been my mission since then to rid this evil.

The exorcism didn't work so after moving several back breaking buckets of gravel and dead soil the bare bones of the area became visible.

The fish and plants were placed in temporary accommodation, other wise known as a tub-it.  How versatile are these fantastic devices?  I use my three for everything from mixing compost to, well, storing fish apparently!

So two goldfish, Iris laevigata 'Variegata', Gunnera magellanica, Typha minima, Juncus effusus 'Spiralis', Equisetum scirpoides and an unknown Nymphaea were all sweating away in this tight panic inducing bucket.

The area was edged with timber cut at different lengths and placed on end.  I like the informal feel it creates and it matches the rest of the lower garden.  The borders in the lower garden form a spiral around a central paved area and are planted with a great variety of plants to create an informal but modern cottage garden.  Cottage fusion I like to call it. Although at present a lot of the fusion is missing thanks to the Winter!

The ground around the pond was prepared with top soil, compost and some fertiliser in the shape of blood, fish and bone.  Although it smells a little, is it wrong that I quite like the smell?, it is by far one of the best fertilisers available.  On top of this I regularly apply a foliar seaweed feed and mulch anually with compost from the local amenity site.  Food waste is collected fortnightly and composted by the local authoity.  The compost produced seems to be great for the garden and its free!

Finally, the planting began!  I always have an abundance of spare plants hanging around the garden.  I am a massive fan of propagation and collecting plants and as a result I had most of what I needed at my disposal.  Digitalis pupurea, Geum 'Mrs Bradshaw', Astrantia bavarica, Carex buchanii, Leucojum aestivum, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, Allium sphaerocephalon and a hardy Geranium were all thrown in.  I'm not a Geranium lover and I'm as surprised as the next person that I've actually planted one.  The bees like them though so I guess thats reason enough for me to include it.

As I needed a little more structure I popped to my local botanical garden, as they have a great weekly plant sale, and I came back with a gorgeous Viburnum opulus, which I've placed behind the pond, a Primula bulleyana, and a Persicaria bisorta 'Superbum'.  And thats it!  I'm really happy with the final result and I'm hoping that it will help to pull in even more wildlife to the garden.


  1. I really like that edging... I might have to copy it.... :-)

  2. Great idea, I've been hankering for a pond, may just have to try something like this. I kind of like the smell of fish fertilizer too!

  3. Great ides. I've been hankering after a pond and this might be the way to do it. I really want a little place for frogs to have fun.

    ps. I like smell of fish fertilizer too.

  4. I created a small wildlife border incorporating a small pond in my garden earlier on this year. I'm hoping to attract lots of beneficial insects and wildlife into my garden. You can see the list of plants which I used on my blog.

  5. Love the new position of the barrel Ryan; having visited your garden I know that presentation is as important as quality of content so the finished article will be splendid!
    I've been thinking of a pond too as am concerned that the frogs, toads and newts would like somewhere nice to play? Please can you tell me what plants you put in tyour pond as my only customer so far is a Juncus spiralis/effusus?
    I've diverted an 'plastic' water tank from a neighbour who was taking it too the tip and am considering where in my plot to put it? will have to blog the construction of that for all to see!?

  6. Great idea ...a barrel pond !!
    Loooks pretty good.

  7. It's always amazing how much wildlife will be attracted by offering some water. Your barrel and plantings look great.

  8. That's amazing Ryan, really good work and great advice for us - thanks!

  9. Brilliant!
    Getting back to the "bones" of your garden! Your soul will love the nature you have introduced. I just recently discovered Astrantia myself. Maroon raspberry colored flowers. Leaves are a deep green with a silver sheen.

    Enjoy your creation.

    Lynn (from Alaska)

  10. Looks great, Ryan! Will the water in the half barrel become stagnant?

    Sheila Averbuch - Stopwatch Gardener

  11. hi,i have had a barrel pond like this for about five years.the last two weeks the water as been covered in an oily golden scum.i remove it and the next day its back again.i have oxygenating and floating plants in it.can anyone help.

  12. Thats a good idea! I may try that! :o) Thanks


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