We used a butyl liner for our new pond, partly to see the difficulties it might cause. In the past we’ve used a really good product called Bentomat or just sealed ponds naturally, which – of course – have been easy to plant. Planting into plastic is more of a problem!
This is something people often phone about – how do you get a natural look with a plastic liner? They look really unattractive, particularly when new. The edges are hard to hide and they crease and bubble. I hate using pots in ponds, particularly those terrible plastic ones you can buy in garden centres, but until recently it was impossible to avoid if you wanted a more instant result than natural colonization.
Then some clever folk came up with a rather brilliant idea. Supposing you gave your pond plants a growing medium which could also provide them with structure under water? Grow them in coir, which would hold together until gradually naturally rotting down into the water, by which time he plants would be well established.
We sell these coir mats or rolls, preplanted with a mix of commonly found aquatic plants, and I was dying to try them out myself. The new plastic pond was an ideal opportunity.
Our coir mats arrived on a pallet, but couldn’t have been easier to put into position. They smelt lovely too – of water mint! We pegged them down around the pond edge or weighted them down with stones, covering unsightly plastic.The idea is that the range of plants will migrate to the drier or wetter sections of the mats, depending on what they prefer. As our pond is firmly focused on wildlife it has gently sloping sides and a shallow floor, which is ideal for the mats. As an unexpected bonus we imported lots of water snails and some dragonfly nymphs – and even a newt!
The pond is already looking a lot better, and I can’t wait to see it in three months’ time. I hope the new vegetation won’t just look good, but it should also bring other benefits – more fauna and an improvement in water quality. Our first generation of frogs, wriggling out of their spawn, should love it.