Reflecting on pond building

At the December 2012 Llanthony Garden Club AGM I told everyone about our exciting new project – building a natural swimming pond.  At the 2013 AGM on Monday I thought people would be keen to see how it went – unfortunately the technology let us down – so here are the pics with a few words explaining what’s going on…


The real beginning was swimming in outdoor lidos as a child and teenager – where have they all gone?  Then there was a fab holiday in Sweden swimming in fresh water lakes every day which reminded me how good it feels.  And then there were articles in gardening magazines about natural swimming ponds so I decided that I must have one.  So I checked a few websites and bought a couple of books – we even had a video – it all looked pretty straightforward…


I hired a digger with driver and with book in one hand we started the project.  Half way through the first day Ian enquired whether I knew what I was doing and I realised that I didn’t  – Mick Petts to the rescue.  Mick is a local Landscape Artist and had actually constructed one of these – he seemed keen to help us out so that was the beginning of the long and challenging journey from concept to swimming.


Mick suggested that rather than building the walls from concrete block we could minimise the carbon footprint of the project by using our own timber – some handy 120 ft tall Douglas Fir right next to the pond site.  We contacted our trusty tree surgeon Matthew Corran and he and his team made felling the trees look so easy.


We then hired a mobile sawmill and Martin Fraser cut the timber to size in the yard and then Ian and Martin (Keylock) transported the timbers back to the pond site with the Old Grey Fergie.


Meanwhile Brian, the digger driver, returned – this time working to Mick’s drawings and under his guidance – much more satisfactory.


Constructing the walls and getting the levels right was  very skilled work – Ian supplied labour and cups of tea whilst Mick crafted the walls – a thing of beauty – it’s a shame that when the pool is full of water you can’t see them.


Various layers – first sand


then polyfelt


then the liner – needing at least 4 strong men


substrate going in the regeneration zone


Fin and I filling the pond with water


the first swim


The planting around the edge of the pond – the regeneration zone –  is nearly complete and we’ll add photos when they are up next spring, mostly begged and borrowed from ponds of friends (Penny, Justine and others).

Here’s Mick, back to finish off the landscape around the pond adding a natural seat by one of the trees.

Mick in stone laying action.

Mick in stone laying action.

You may notice that the Clerk of Works aka Smudge appears in a number of the photos.  He rarely left the site when we were working and probably even checked it out over night as well.

For the technically minded:

18 tons of sand

32 tons of substrate stone

3 tons of decorative pebbles

27 m x 13 m pond liner

about 12 m3 timber

750 8in coach screws

plus lots more!!

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