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FAQ: Creating a Wildlife Pond

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 31 Mar 2018 | comments*Discuss
Pond Water Plants Wildlife Friendly

Few things are such an effective wildlife magnet as a pond. From the likes of frogs and damselflies looking to set up home, to birds and badgers visiting for a drink, add even a small stretch of water to your garden, and all manner of creatures will soon be stopping by to make use of it.

If you want to go that bit further, however, and create an ideal, purpose-built wildlife pond, there are a few things to consider, to make sure that you end up with a really useful new habitat outside your backdoor.

What Is The Best Material For A Wildlife Pond?

Whether you choose to buy a pre-formed design or make your own using a liner or concrete is not really important, so you can largely pick whichever suits your budget or level of DIY skills. What matters much more is that whatever material you do decide to use to create it, the finished pond has the right general features to make it wildlife friendly.

So What Features Should My Pond Have?

There are two main features to think about; slope and depth.

Make sure your pond has at least one edge that slopes gently – not all the wildlife that will end up in your pond necessarily belongs there and while creatures such as hedgehogs swim surprisingly well, if the “bank” is too steep they may struggle to get out after their impromptu dip! As well as ensuring that you don’t drown too many of your visitors, a gradually sloping section will also let frogs and newts move in and out of the water easily too.

Wildlife ponds shouldn’t be too shallow, so look for a depth of at least 20–24 inches (50-60 cm), preferably with some planting shelves built into the design.

Where Should I Locate My Wildlife Pond?

Location is very important. If you possibly can, pick somewhere fairly quiet so visiting creatures are not always bothered by endless comings and goings. It’s a good idea to try to site your pond away from trees to avoid too many leaves falling in during the autumn, which can be a problem, but nowhere too exposed, especially if it’s only going to be quite a small water feature. Despite what we say about British summers, in full sun the water can quickly get too hot, so always ensure there’s a bit of shade.

Can I Have Some Fish Too?

If you have a large enough pond, and a small enough number of fish, it might be possible, but the general advice is that fish and wildlife don’t really mix, since most kinds of native water-life makes rather too attractive a meal for ornamental fish to resist.

What About Planting?

To keep the water in good condition and to provide for your visiting wildlife’s needs, you’ll need to have oxygenators, deep water plants, marginals and some floating plants – all of which are readily available from garden centres and pond suppliers.

There is a school of thought that you should only really use native British plants for wildlife ponds and, of course, there is a lot to be said for helping to preserve our natural aquatic flora. Whether you choose to stick rigidly to this approach – and there are so many great varieties to pick from that you will have plenty of choice if you do – or take a more pragmatic view and have what you like, is really a matter of personal preference.

Either way, with a well-planted pond you shouldn’t have any problem attracting wildlife.

How Can I Make My Pond Fit In With The Rest Of The Garden?

An attractively built and well-planted pond always adds something to a garden and the wildlife pond is no different. If you’re intending to create yours in an existing wildlife area, you probably already have a suitable setting, but if it’s a going to be a stand-alone feature, then it would be a good idea to think about leaving an area around the back and sides to go a little more “wild” than normal. It will provide a good backdrop to help set-off the pond as well as offering some cover for your more cautious visitors.

A carefully constructed bog garden can also help blend the pond into the dry land, making the overall transition appear pleasing to the human eye as well as making ideal surroundings for a range of moisture loving creatures too.

Actually creating your wildlife pond is, of course, only the start of things. Although you’ll notice the difference it makes pretty much straight away, as the years go by and nature takes its course, you should find it becomes an ever more popular focus for a whole range of creatures. So plan your pond well and settle back to see what turns up – you might well be surprised!

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I have a small patio garden and for the last two years we have had some frogs. I put out a tray of water as we don't have any in the garden. I would like to get a free standing frog pond this year for them but I am concerned I will end up with too many frogs and although I like them in the garden do not want to be overrun. Any advice please
Litlen - 31-Mar-18 @ 6:26 PM
HI Mumbo, did you ever resolve the leaf issue?
postbasher - 3-Aug-16 @ 1:35 PM
Hi Mumbo, i have the same problem...but i see your post is from 2012...did you resolve the issue i wonder?...will you ever read this? who knows but worth atry ;)
postbasher - 3-Aug-16 @ 1:33 PM
I have a pond, now 1 year old and I am so excited to say I have 3 frogs happily living there, I hope. The only problem I have, is I have it situated under a tree, I thought about draping some netting under the tree not to close to the pond, I would hate it if a bird or any wild life got caught up in it. But it would prevent the leaves falling in the pond. I do use a net to scoop up any unwanted leaves and twigs, but not since I have seen the frogs,I creep up when I am observing them but they are very alert to me, I would love to get up close and personal, you know, so we can get to know each other, wow how sad is that, ha ha I will be rushing out to the pond shop, to buy more plants, before the winter sets in.The previous pond I had at another house, was in a terrible state, dead birds were in it, but I started from scratch, never had a pond before, and was amazed within a short time I had frogs, also spawning, lots of babies, and crested newts, all living happily with one tiny goldfish. When I fed the gold fish the newts joined in so I guess they all lived happily together, I must go back and find out if it is still thriving. I would appreciate any info, to help me with my leaf in the pond problem. Best wishes. Mumbo
Mumbo - 10-Sep-12 @ 10:01 AM
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