The finishing touches have now been put to the big new pond project at Skelton Grange and the wildlife is settling in now. Thanks to the support of First Direct and WREN, as well as all the volunteers who got involved in the building process, our pond dipping facilities will be better than ever as we enter the autumn, with a brand now pond and a high quality new dipping platform as well.
The first stages of the build were covered in an earlier blog post. Next up was to lay the non slip decking to provide a safe, long lasting surface. Some of this work can be done from the platform but sometimes its easiest to get the waders on and take to the water!
The decking has a non slip insert in it – this is because over the years we have found that some of our decking areas, particularly round the ponds, would become very slippery in wet weather or winter conditions. The non slip insert works well but also took its toll on our saws!
As the decking was completed we also pushed on with the surrounding landscaping – installing benches, levelling and seeding the pathways, as well as planting both in and around the pond. We used a permeable mesh system that will allow grass to grow and provide a natural finish, but will also provide structure to ensure that the area does not get too muddy, even if heavily used in periods of wet weather.
The final stages included the installation of an low handrail at the front edge of the pond – this allows us to work with a large group of children and for them to be able to dip independently in pairs but in a safe and easy to manage environment. As the handrail went on the final work was done on the nearby seating, and the paths were seeded with grass seed. Thanks to the team from first direct who came down on their day off to help with this!
By this point some wildlife had already moved into the pond! Pond skaters were evident across the surface of the pond, and dragonflies buzzed around the area as we worked. We are monitoring the pond now to see how long it takes different species to colonise – and are trying not to intentionally introduce animal life to the pond, but to let nature take its course! With constuction and planting in place the next thing is just to see how long that takes, but we will be starting to pond dip in the area from the start of the autumn term!