Refurbishing the pond. At the beginning of this year we realised that the wild life pond had less water in it than it should. There was also a decided lack of frog and toad spawn. From a distance it still looked good though. We realised there was a major problem when we watched one of the cats walk across it without getting his paws wet. Close to, though, it was obvious that the marginal plants had grown so much that they were filling the pond. Worse still it was obvious that one of the grasses on the edge had punctured the liner. We decided that we had to clear it all out and start again. The first job was to remove the plants from the borders around the edge of the pond. As you can see there was little room for water and the level was well below the edge of the liner. With more of the marginal plants removed the water level dropped even more. I set to and dug out the plants from the centre of the pond. The roots had to be cut with loppers and then sawn into pieces small enough to be lifted. Eventually the middle was cleared. I lost count of the number of wheelbarrows of roots which I took away. The next task was to remove all the material from the margin. This sounds easy, but there was a lot of very tough rooted plants, all of which had to be chopped into lumps, small enough to be carried away. Many wheelbarrow loads later the liner was visible, except for the small amount of water left in the centre. The liner was then cleaned up so that we could see its condition. I then made the sad discovery that there were many holes in the liner where the roots of a grass, commonly sold as a marginal, had gone under the liner and come up through it. The grass in question we think was Phragmites australis. These are some of the roots which I pulled out from under the liner. We could have removed the pond altogether, but that would have left a large hole which would have taken a lot of top soil to fill if we wanted to either make it into a grassed area or a bed. Another alternative would have been to leave it as a depression and fill it with moisture loving plants. Neither of these alternatives felt right, especially as we have a large number of frogs, toads and common newts in the garden. So we chose to rebuild the pond with a new liner. I replaced the old liner, after making sure there were no more roots underneath and making good the sand layer. We were rather fortunate in that we managed to get thus far with no rain. However before the new liner arrived the heavens opened and despite the number of holes in the old liner quite an amount of water collected in the bottom of the pond. We scooped it out and filled every container we could find with this precious commodity. Eventually the new liner was delivered and placed over the old one. We emptied the water back into the bottom of the liner. We could have waited for rain to fill the pond naturally, but since the forecast was for an extended period of drought, we reeled out the hosepipe and filled it from the tap. Probably a good thing we did as the next proper rain did not appear for another three months. Once the pond was full I buried the spare liner round the edge and cut off the pieces which could not be hidden. We decided that, as it was the marginal plants which had so badly outgrown their space, we would not put them back. All that was left now was to repair the damage done to the beds around the pond. To separate the beds from the pond and to hide the liner I put a row of house bricks along the edge. At the top end where there was a gravel path and small alpine growing area I covered the liner with some of the many stones which are to be found in this garden. At the opposite end where the water is shallow I used smaller stones to make a sloping beach to give easy access to the water for any small creatures that may want to drink from the pond. I used some pieces of paving slab to make a stable platform for human observers to stand and watch the pond life. I transferred some water lilies and irises from the Lily pond in another part of the garden and replanted the beds and the rebuild was almost complete. When I have collected enough of the field stones I will replace the house bricks to make the pond look more natural. Even before it was finished we found, frogs, newts, water beetles and this lovely chap visiting.