According to RoSPA, 15 children under 6 a year drown in their own home.
That's a truly harrowing statistic, made all the more concerning by the fact that over half of these can be easily prevented by the use of a pool or pond cover. With the risks very obvious to any concerned parent and the fact that building surveyors are now flagging garden ponds as dangerous, the decision to cover or fill your pond is a clear one.
Many people will choose to simply fill their pond in. Whilst not necessarily quick or even easy, it is decisive and guaranteed to prevent any accidents from occurring. However, the cost to your garden's wildlife is enormous, with many conserved species such as frogs, newts and toads losing vital habitat in the process. Not to mention the effect it will have on the way your garden looks and feels.
That is not to say you should prioritise frogs over your own children! Far from it. But when given the option to cover and conserve with an entirely quick and painless safety system that's designed to save your child's life when the worst happens, why would you choose otherwise?
Unfortunately, the worst does happen. When I was a small child, the aquatic safety industry was in a very different place to it was now and there were actually quite a few occasions when my own parents had to rescue me from my own moments falling in. It's so easily done.
For peace of mind and the knowledge that you don't have to be on high alert any time your child goes near your pond, what price tag can you put on that? No one wants to take their eye off their loved ones for a second and be one of the unfortunate few.
That is exactly why we have been at the forefront of the pond safety industry for nearly 20 years.
How to cover your pond without spoiling the view
There are many options on the market, with solid grid systems that sit under the water, to metal frameworks and meshes to pond safety netting, all of which have variying benefits and drawbacks.
Solid, below surface grid systems
This type of pond cover was amongst the earliest to be pioneered. The solid, injection moulded plastic grids sit on top of upright legs, aluminium framework and supports. They are by and large incredibly strong systems which can be fitted to any shape and size pond.
They can be installed as a DIY system but are often very complicated, so it is usually better to opt in for the installation service. Your installation would be carried out by trained fitters, often with guarantees and insurances on the product and its installation. You'll also have to book in a date that's convenient for fitting and delivery.
It's a larger cost but will be a permanent fixture in your pond, preventing accidents from occuring for as long as you keep the pond. Access will be impaired, so again you'll need help detaching the grids from the base structure.
There's a lot of fun to be had with this type of pond safety system. Take a look on Google for photos of this type of installation with almost biblical images of adults walking on water!
Depending on whether you like the look of the grids themselves, you can fit these just below or above the water level. As seasons change, water levels will rise and fall and you'll often see them whether you've chosen a below water level fitting or not.
Metal framework covers
Possibly the most expensive of all types of pond cover, due to the larger material cost, shipping and manufacturing process. They can be extremely attractive features in your garden, rivalling a well constructed pergola or pagoda.
If you have a local blacksmith and deep pockets, then there are even more social and aesthetic benefits to this option.
Equally, you may prefer the look of a pond unencumbered by structures sitting above the water level, protruding above.
Amongst the cheapest of options and certainly one of the shortest term fixes with often the crudest of appearances. Welding mesh, chicken wire or general wire mesh sheeting can be used to cover raised wall ponds, adding rudimental protection without necessarily any strength.
These type of meshes, unless powder coated or painted, corrode or rust quickly further undermining the strength. They're perfect in the very short term as a visual deterrant and for protecting against very small impacts but perhaps not as effective.
Pond safety netting
There are many varying thicknesses, mesh sizes and tensile strengths available. Each have their own purpose. Whilst we do indeed sell our own (see Bull Nets Pond Safety Kit), it wouldn't be fair to oversell this without first presenting the other options available.
Smaller meshes, with around 10mm x 10mm wide holes and 1-2mm thick strands are perfect for keeping birds and leaves out of your pond, helping to protect any fish below. They're lightweight, affordable and often are made from UV-stable polypropylene, making them weather proof too. However, this isn't necessarily always true. With a lot of really cheap nets, often imported from the far east, you get what you pay for and ultimately you will have to replace these.
These same small-mesh nets may even come with complimentary plastic pegs to anchor the net with. Again, absolutely fine for holding the net in place but in terms of strength, they won't amount to very much at all. Some offer metal tent pegs that would simply slide out upon impact - just like on every windy camping holiday you've ever been on. This and the tensile strength of thin mesh netting is the overall reason why they're only really suitable as use for keeping birds and leaves out, rather than children.
Much thicker meshes are available, some as high as 8mm thick with 50mm x 50mm holes. They're a little more to handle and have a weight issue too. The heavier the mesh, the more support that safety net in itself would require resulting in a larger fixing cost and effort to install.
There are also knotted options available, which appear strong initially but possibly may weaken over time as the knots split under tension - this can happen!
Lastly, there are woven safety netting systems which are a direct hybrid of industrial and domestic use safety nets. For example, Bull Nets' 4mm thick net is thick enough to bear large weight and impacts but light enough to not need excessive support. They're also weather proof, rot proof and warp proof. The meshes won't keep normal sized leaves out of your pond but they'll make access too difficult for herons to bother attacking fish. If you're concerned about leaves falling in but mainly the safety of your child, you may want a smaller mesh net to go with this to keep the leaves out.
With the correct non-slip fixings, your pond is instantly safe for children (and adults) whilst also accessible for maintenance. Bull Nets' fixing sets come with weather proof detachable clips, making the net removable at a moment's notice - all without compromising the strength and safety of the net. Unlike tent pegs or concrete pilings, they stay anchored even against wind or impact and won't slip!
With all this info in mind, what will you choose to do? Do you have any questions relating to making your pond safe for children? Get in touch!