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Build your own Waterhole... from a tyre!

I have just moved one of my little Birdsy cameras on to one of the waterholes I have created in the garden. These little areas of water are great for wildlife. Not only do they provide somewhere for birds and mammals to drink, but they are regularly used by birds, for bathing. I make these little watering areas from old tyres. I got them from the local tyre repair garage and they are more than happy for me to take as many as I want!

Over the years, I have made numerous set-ups, all over the garden. They are easy to make and can be customised to fit in with your garden and the available materials. I like mine to look nothing like a trye, so I add a lot of natural materials and do a lot of planting around them.

The one you see on my camera, is one I made with Paul Martin, when I was filmed for BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries, about 2 years ago. Sadly, the clip is no longer available on iPlayer. I have some screen shots and images from this show and some images from another waterhole in my garden, to illustrate the process.

You will need:

- One tyre (or more, depending on what design you want create)

- Soil or sand for filling

- Waterproof liner (Could be bit of pond liner, tarpaulin or any waterproof material)

- Natural materials for the edges

1. Choose a location

It is important to choose the right location. Think about where the wildlife will feel safe. I generally put near a boundary or tree or branch, where birds can alight and sit, before coming down. You may want to be able to see it from the house as well.

2. Preparation of the area

You need to clear the area you wish to place your tyre and then ensure it is level on the ground. Either level the ground or wedge items under your tyre until you have achieved this.

3. Fill the tyre

You now need to fill up the inside of the tyre to the depth you want your pool to be. I have some that are about 20-30cm deep in a large tyre and these will attract frogs and act like a mini pond. Others are only about 7cm deep for drinking and bathing. Make sure you pack your soil inside the tyre and then pat it down to create the shape you want your pool to be.

4. Add the liner

Lay your waterproof material on top. Make sure it stretches beyond the tyre initially. Press it down inside the hollow you have made and trim it, a little larger than you need it, to allow for it sinking down when full of water. Make sure you have create the shape you want in the soil. Try to make the edge slope.

5. Add the water

Fill the hollow with water and check that you are happy with the depth and shape of the pool. Tuck the liner in around the top of the tyre and trim off any excess.

6. Pile soil up all around the outside of the tyre, until you can't see it any more. You can use rocks and logs etc to help you disguise it. I collect all sorts of nice looking logs, stones and bits and pieces to shape around the pool and then I plant it up to soften the edges and to try to hide as much liner as possible.

The one you see on this camera has had a few years to mature and you would never know it is a trye!

I constantly play around with the set-up, especially when I have a camera on it. I don't really like to be able to see any liner. I also place stones or a rock in the the hollow sometimes, to create somewhere to perch and to make it shallower in areas for different species. It is easy to play around with as it is so small. The birds are used to mine, but came to it within a few days of me setting it up.

The size of this pool means it is easy to keep clean. I either just add enough new water to cause the old water to over flow out, or I use a small pot to scoop the water out, so I can clean it. As with bird feeders, good hygiene is essential, especially if your pool is used by a lot of birds. If you are lucky, you will get mammals visiting too. I have had squirrels, hedgehogs, fox and mice use mine to drink from.

A great way to add essential water to your garden... even if it is only a small plot.


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