Home > Pond Life > Encouraging Wildlife to Your Pond

Encouraging Wildlife to Your Pond

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 24 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Disappearing Ponds Sloping Shelves

With natural lakes and wetlands disappearing from the countryside at an alarming rate – over 70 per cent of the UK’s ponds have disappeared in the last hundred years or so – it is small wonder that the garden pond can quickly become a haven for all manner of wildlife.

For the back-garden naturalist, a water feature can be a sure fire way of seeing many of Britain’s shyer and less common creatures and providing a few essential amenities can often be all the encouragement they need to visit in their droves.

Although it is obviously best to plan for wildlife from the outset, even a well established or inherited pond can be made irresistible, with a little bit of time and effort.

The Physical Landscape

The hard landscaping element of the pond is one of the most important in determining its suitability for wildlife. Obviously for a new construction, you have a blank canvas, but if you have inherited a pond from the previous owners of the house, or have used a pre-formed type of liner, then many of the decisions have already been made for you with regard to the profile and depth.

Ideally, the pond should have a variety of depths, ranging from a gently sloping edge, to a depth of two feet or more, with a series of shelves conveniently placed to allow planting. Many pre-formed designs incorporate these features, but if yours does not, all is not lost. A strategically placed pile of bricks can produce a platform to support plants and a securely attached old log or piece of slate can provide an escape route for any hedgehogs that blunder in, or baby frogs when the time comes for them to leave. Wildlife makes no distinction between the natural and the artificial – it only matters that they can do what they need to.

It is also important to give the area surrounding the pond some thought. Many animals which will be drawn to the pond do not spend their whole lives in it and so need somewhere to shelter on dry land. Building a rockery with lots of crevices, piling a few old logs beside the pond or half-sinking old terracotta plant pots or pies into the ground will provide frogs and toads with places to hide. It is also a good idea not to be too keen to prune the plants growing around the edges, as many small creatures will naturally tend to use the cover they provide.

Plants and Planting

While some people advocate leaving your wildlife pond to be naturally colonised by plants, although this can take place faster than might be supposed, never-the-less for most of us it is both a little slow and rather too hap-hazard. Choosing the plants yourself also gives you a measure of control over what the finished feature looks like, rather than simply accepting pot-luck on what happens to arrive under its own steam.

Wherever possible, native species should be used – such as curled pondweed (Potamogeton crispus) and water soldier (Stratiotes aloides) in preference to the likes of the similar looking Canadian pond weed (Elodea canadensis) or Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).

While Elodea has a well deserved reputation for being invasive, it is not alone. The list to avoid includes fairy moss (Azolla filiculoides), floating pennywort ( Hydrocotyle ranunculoides), parrot's feather, (Myriophyllum aquaticum) and New Zealand pigmy-weed (Crassula helmsii) – sometimes called Australian swamp stonecrop and incorrectly labelled Tillaea helmsii. Many suppliers can advise on suitable plants – and the good news is that native does not mean boring; the likes of the small white water lily (Nymphaea alba), marsh marigold (Caltha paulustris) or yellow flag (Iris pseudocorus) should prove showy enough for most gardens.

These plants are far more than a pretty backdrop, however. Oxygenating plants will keep the water full of oxygen, plants with leaves that cover the surface give shade and shelter, while marginals at the edge offer another place to hide as well as providing emerging damsel fly and dragonfly nymphs with an exit route.

There are ways to speed up the arrival of animals to the pond, such as obtaining frogspawn from another wildlife enthusiast who perhaps has too much, but fish are the one thing you should never introduce. The two things simply do not mix – fish are far too good at making meals out of precisely the things you were hoping to encourage. Beyond that, if you have done your landscaping and planting properly, you should be able to sit back and wait for a variety of invertebrates, amphibians and birds to crawl, hop and fly their way to make use of your wildlife oasis – even if it is little bigger than your kitchen table!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Davo
    Re: Your Top Pond Questions Answered
    Why do i have continual white froth on top of my small patio pond. I have now only got 3 very old goldfish left in it The…
    23 September 2017
  • fishy
    Re: Raised Ponds
    hi ive built a raised pond, the top edge is perfectly level but the one end is lower than the other buy at least a couple of inches... will this mean…
    23 September 2017
  • Puzzled
    Re: Your Top Pond Questions Answered
    We have just cleaned out, relined and filled a garden pond which was filthy and leaking (we moved into this house a year…
    20 September 2017
  • PondExpert
    Re: Choosing the Right Fish for Your Pond
    Bill - Your Question:What fish will not eat frog spawn or tadpoles Our Response:We don't know of
    12 September 2017
  • Bill
    Re: Choosing the Right Fish for Your Pond
    what fish will not eat frog spawn or tadpoles
    10 September 2017
  • Linjay
    Re: Fish Diseases and Ailments
    Like Lyndy 2Jun Our fish are dying with no visible signs of anything wrong. The water is clear, ph fine, Any ideas what could be…
    3 September 2017
  • johno
    Re: Digging Your Pond
    good morning all, hopefully someone can advise me on my issue filling a preformed pond I have dug the hole, packed with sand at the bottom,…
    29 August 2017
  • talora
    Re: Aerating Your Pond
    I want to use "Paddle Wheel Aerator" in my small pond. May I put my queries?
    25 August 2017
  • lindyloo
    Re: Choosing the Right Fish for Your Pond
    shkenny your stickleback is a male making a nest to attract a mate for breeding. as the female lays the eggs in the…
    18 August 2017
  • kev1
    Re: What Could be the Reason for all the Fish Dying?
    if you have water lilies and they are overcrowded they are also like a jungle below the water line fish…
    2 August 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the PondExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.