St Wilfred’s Primary school came to us with a very specific brief. They wanted a pond for the school grounds. It needed to be a safe area presenting minimum risk, as it would not be fenced off from the playground, however it also needed to be accessible for lessons so the children could learn about aquatic wildlife and plants. The school often has problems with break-ins and vandalism, so the pond also had to be protected and robust!
Alasdair approached this one step at a time.
He came up the with idea of a raised, split-level pond.
Having the pond raised allows for ease of viewing, prevents the plants from being trampled and minimises risks of falling in. It is constructed from blockwork, with brick facing, and capped with a brick soldier course. Al chose engineering bricks as they are solid and tough. The shape was designed to allow a class of children to be able to stand around it and get involved during the teaching activities. The paved area around the pond is there to prevent the ground becoming muddy or boggy due to the increase foot traffic.
The deeper section needed to be deep enough to allow wildlife to survive throughout the Winter. Al realised that if we were to use a traditional pond liner it would have to be lapped into the brickwork and the folds would be visible. For aesthetics and stability, he decided to use a paint-on pond liner. This is a rubberised paint layered over a rendered surface. It stays flexible all year round and is safe for wildlife.
Once this section was built and lined it was then covered with a fixed lid, with a lockable access hatch for pond dipping. The fixed lid is a grill that we had designed and fabricated specifically for this project. It has been painted to prevent and designed to be strong enough to withstand the weight of a fully grown adult, just in case anyone climbs on top of it and jumps about!
The shallow area is linked to the deeper section via an overspill, and is filled with aquatic compost and gravel. This is where the children can get close to aquatic and marginal plants and wildlife. To maintain the correct water levels for the plants there is an overflow built into the top course which drains into a gravel pit.
Al went to a specialised supplier for the plants. He had already marked out the shallow area into zones for planting with varying depths of water. The plants were selected for their suitability at different depths and to ensure they were non-invasive, so they wouldn’t take over. There is a good mix of plants for wildlife interest.
This job showcases the benefits of having an in-house designer working closely with the landscaping team, as Jake, our brickie, was thrilled to say that when he came to build the pond, it was millimetre perfect.