Pond Cover to protect Fish from Herons and reduce Sunlight
For a while now I have been toying with the idea of
building some kind of wooden cover for my pond.
long time we have used netting over our pond to prevent
stalking and catching our fish, ever since we lost 3
of our fish very early one morning when a heron came
and had some breakfast!
[Picture copyright and courtesy of Zyllan Spilsbury]
Herons are very early risers,
generally attacking ponds at the crack of dawn, and
you may not even know or notice you have lost some
a couple of days, unless they are particularly greedy
and eat many of your fish in one sitting!
Whenever I wanted to work on the pond it was a bit
of a pain having to unpeg the netting, lift it off
the pond, then fasten it all back over when finished.
And sometimes it would get caught in the lawn mower
the pond if I wasn't careful.
I had in mind that having some other kind of solid
cover would not only prevent herons from attacking,
- will offer the fish some shade from the summer sun;
- also help reduce algae forming green-water; and
any blanket-weed growth; and
- in addition it is
strong enough to prevent our small grand-children
from falling in the pond.
I have seen some koi keepers
build complete pagodas/houses over their ponds to
provide permanent shade,
but I can't
really afford an elaborate structure. However
previously I had
built an archway-pagoda next to the pond for
my wife to grow clematis against, and I thought
might provide a suitable fixing for a rope
and pulley to
hoist a hinged pond cover.
So, this is the result....perhaps it might give you some
My Drawbridge Pond Cover
It's a simple enough affair which uses a good strong
eye-bolt fixed into the top of the pond cover, which
the hoisting rope attaches to, passes through a pulley,
and then wraps around a cleat to fasten it when in the
Read on for more details and photos.
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I built the main structure of the cover in a weekend,
from some spare pieces of tongue-and-groove boarding
boards that had been laying around in the garage for
months, and three 3m lengths of 44x44mm timber. They
were ideal for the job.
The only items I had to actually buy were the metalwork,
i.e. some good strong hinges, the eye-bolt, pulley and
cleat, and a decent piece of strong rope.
The part that took the most time was carefully laying
out the wood to see how I could build it to the shape
and dimensions of the pond, and also to allow spaces
where the larger marginal plants can grow up at the sides
of the pond. I think it makes an interesting shape and
cover for the pond. Also I made sure that the gaps in
the wood allowed things like my venturi pipe, or other
plants in the centre to protrude through the top.
Here is the pond cover, with the "drawbridge" raised
up, so allowing clear viewing of the fish, and easy
on the pond. You can see the 3 strong hinges at the
base where I have securely fixed the pond cover to
the archway behind. They have to be able to support
The pond cover is not too heavy, and lifting it up
and down is reasonably easy, and certainly quick to
do, lifting up takes just a few seconds, although as
the plants have grown it is necessary to help them
cover when lowering it back down (although this is
possible on your own, two people makes it quicker).
After cutting the wood and doing
a test construction, I then completely dismantled
it again and used some water-based (non-toxic / fish
safe) timber preservative to seal and colour the
woodwork so that
it is more
pleasing on the eye, and to prevent the wood from
rotting so that it lasts a good long time.
To finish off, I have some more ideas
for further decorating it, which I have yet to
do. For example adding some down-lighting to the
underside of the cover to light the pond at night.
Also I will keep an eye out for some nautical oddments,
such as a small boat anchor to fix to the topside
for added interest.
Since adding the cover, we have
noticed that the fish seem much more at ease
in the pond. They come to the surface more readily,
and seem less cautious. I guess perhaps they
feel more protected? Also the cover has made
a dramatic reduction in the amount of blanketweed
in the pond, and all year the water has remained
gin-clear - I have not had a single occurence
of green water in 2006.
I have since found a suitable adornment
for the top of the cover. This dragonfly is a
door knocker that I found in our local garden
centre. Nice isn't it?
It is made by a company
called Black Country Metalworks (visit http://www.ws-hardware.co.uk/home.html),
and they supply a wonderful range of knocker
designs; fish, dolphins, foxes, squirrels,
and so on.