Pond safety – fences and small children 

IMG_4377 We’ve been a bit cavalier over pond safety, given that for the last ten years or so we’ve been having visits from families with toddlers. Two sides of the pond are protected by a hedge and our neighbour’s fence, but the other side is open to the garden, apart from two short stretches of dense copse and closely growing trees. Until now, we’ve been reluctant to cut off the pond from the garden because most of the time only adults are here, and we like the free movement.

We have relied on a ramshackle fence made from 3 foot high chicken wire fixed every 6 feet to small round pointed posts. When children come, we unroll the wire and posts, which are stored rolled up behind the compost heap. The posts are permanently stapled to the wire, and we hammer them into the ground round the pond. There’s about 120 feet of it, divided into sections for portability, but it was getting more and more of a hassle to rig it up, especially at short notice.IMG_4382

Now we’ve made a permanent fence round the pond near the house from 4 inch half round sharpened posts beaten into the ground using a club hammer, protecting the tops from splintering with a piece of scrap wood. There is a single 3 inch half round rail running near the top of each and the gaps between posts are filled with one inch square mesh galvanised welded netting, which is much neater than chicken wire. We bought a 30 metre roll. It is fine wire, almost invisible from a distance, and does not detract much from the view.

A four inch square oak post is set in concrete to make one end of the fence, and this seems to give quite a bit of extra strength and stability to the line of posts.

At the other end of the pond, there’s a short section of the half round 4 inch posts and wire netting plus a heavy gate made of solid one inch plywood, which only an adult can open or close. The gate is crude but effective, pulling in and out of a gap between a tool shed and a wood store and at its other end sliding between 2 stakes. We may replace it with a proper hinged gate, but it seems very hard for a child to open as it is.IMG_4374

The short fence runs up to a small, dense copse, into which we have piled large quantities of impenetrable brushwood.

The other end of the copse is an open gap of 15 feet, then a line of 4 trees, and another gap of 20 feet up to the new permanent fence.

We’ve tackled the two gaps with the old method, using two sections of posts and chicken wire which can be rolled up between visits. One end of each is fixed permanently to trees. IMG_4376When there are no children around, the posts and chicken wire roll into neat bundles which are tied to the trees ready to unroll again. This is far more manageable than the old system, because only a quarter as much netting has to be unrolled each time.

As for the trees, we’ve stapled chicken wire between them and then piled up our stocks of kindling plus some brushwood to hide it, so it makes an impenetrable barrier.

This week we let a three year old loose in the garden, and the fence passed the test, though even so we won’t let children that age out in the garden unsupervised, just in case. Even when they can swim, a pond is not safe without supervision. Nevertheless, the overall result of the work is a secure fence with removable sections which allow us to move freely round the garden when only adults are present.IMG_4383

 

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