Ponds in schools and nurseries

1 June 2011 · 0 comments

in Developing School Grounds & Outdoor Spaces, Gardening

I’m often asked if ponds are allowed in school grounds. The answer isn’t always straightforward. Most local authorities allow schools and settings to have a pond and this is the first port of call in terms of knowing the health and safety expectations.

The next decision is to think about size and shape. Always go for a wildlife pond to increase the biodiversity value of the grounds. Local rangers and environmental organisations may be able to assist. Some local authorities have guidance to be followed too. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have lots of advice about pond safety and children and should be the first port of call if there is no local authority guidance available.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen lots of different ponds. So here’s the show!

It’s perfectly possible to have a little pond in a tub or container. This school was asked to dig theirs into the ground to prevent the barrel being turned over or stolen.

A good source of British native pond plants can be sourced from Naturescape, though bear in mind, it’s based the other end of the British Isles to Scotland! I use Linden Garden Centre in Perthshire which specialised in ponds and water plants and have really helpful, knowledgeable staff. Many centres and schools have to have a grid over their pond, however shallow…

Some little ponds are better off as marsh or wetland areas. They are still great homes for minibeasts and a source of water for wildlife. Consider carefully where to site ponds for the seclusion that wildlife generally prefers. Have it close to hedges, long grass, log piles, etc. If it’s under trees then more clearance will be needed owing to leaf fall.

This little pond with the marsh marigolds was “reclaimed” from its surrounds. When I arrived at the school, it had been filled in with grass. It’s an old sink dug into the ground and looks rather fetching. We planted marsh marigold and water mint in it.

The pond below was created in a tyre. It’s so established and overgrown that this is hard to believe.

This is one of my favourite ponds. Again, some schools prefer raised ponds to avoid children walking into them. They can be less accessible for children with physical disabilities unless this has been accounted for in their design. However, I love the border being a seating area.

A pond that’s a performance space! This area of decking really makes this pond special. As you can see in the background, this pond is completely enclosed.

Ponds take a certain amount of care and maintenance. This should be remembered before creating one. There’s plenty of advice in books about this aspect of ponds. Choose a book that covers wildlife ponds.

The pond below is part of a new school. I’m intrigued by the design in that only half of the pond is fence off. The other part is entirely accessible at ground level.

This pond is part of a wildlife garden that is segregated from the rest of the school by stone dykes and fencing. So although it’s open and accessible, it’s remains outwith the children’s play area within the grounds.

A good place to put a pond is in a wet and boggy hollow. The school pond below is man-made but filled up naturally from the surrounding area.

This pond absorbs the rainwater coming off a building. It’s also in a natural hollow…

Lastly, this pond is not in a school but my parent’s old garden. It’s got a pump to keep it oxygenated. My dog liked going for a quick swim in there given half a chance! It’s surprisingly deep.

Ponds can add beauty, a place to think and reflect, a home for wildlife and nature discovery to any school ground. They are worth the time and effort to establish.

Finally, you may wish to pop over to Greening Sam and Avery to have a wee peek at her recent post, pond crazy.

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