If you’re looking to attract wildlife to your garden, you’ll be amazed by the difference a wildlife pond will make. Our friends at the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust have some great ideas on how to create a pond, below… this could be the perfect project for a Spring weekend!
Why create a pond?
In the Spring you’ll find the tadpoles wriggling their way out of the spawn and sunning themselves in the shallows. Adult frogs are beginning to leave the water now. They’ll be hopping through the undergrowth looking for food and a damp place to hide. As the water temperature rises, you’ll recognise male smooth newts by their orange and black spotted mating colours as they slide over the stems of emerging plants. The water lilies are sending small glossy pads to the surface providing welcome cover from hungry herons.
If you look closely, you might see strange circular cuts in the leaves of marsh marigolds. This is the work of the sedge caddis fly larvae. The larvae make protective cases to cover their bodies, leaving only their head and front legs exposed like a tortoise. The sword shaped leaves of flags (iris pseudacorus) begin to spike the air, ready for a burst of vibrant yellow flowers in May. Blackbirds have started to thieve the mud for nest building and the sparrows are lining up to drink or have a bath!
Where is the best place for a pond?
Ideally you need to locate the pond in a sunny spot away from overhanging trees. Netting in Autumn will help prevent leaves falling and decomposing in the water. Decide on your viewpoint and mark out the shape of the pond.
Using a butyl liner will offer you more flexibility in shape. An inter liner is worth the extra cost to prevent piercing by sharp stones. You will need to establish different levels for aquatic plants and a deeper area or sump where amphibians can hide or hibernate.
Make sure at least one side of the pond has a gentle slope, stepped ramp or pebbled beach. This will allow amphibians to emerge or creatures, such as hedgehogs, to drink safely at the shallow end. Use rockery stones, pebbles or shingle to create natural steps and hiding places around the edges. Choose from our selection of fish-friendly decorative stones, and remember to wash any stone before adding to your pond.
Your pond will fill up naturally with rainwater and you’ll need to treat any tap water top-ups with a proprietary treatment. Use oxygenating plants to keep the water healthy and solar powered pumps to prevent the pond from stagnating. Peripheral planting is a great way of providing cover from predators, such as cats.
Ponds for small spaces
If you’re restricted for space, even the smallest containers, such as half barrels or Belfast sinks, will attract damsel flies and darters. You can even buy miniature water lilies to complete the scaled down effect! For more detailed instructions on creating your own wildlife pond, visit Freshwater Habitats, a very comprehensive site which supports all aspects of pond life.