It’s National Wildlife Week, and this year’s theme is Wildlife and Water. So let’s have a look at ponds!
Why have a garden pond?
A pond adds a whole new dimension to your outdoor space, as well as attracting beneficial wildlife into the garden. Frogs and toads live on slugs and snails, so a pond is also an eco-friendly way to minimise slug damage to your plants in spring. Dozens of other native wildlife species will be attracted to a garden pond, including newts, mayflies, hoverflies, dragonflies, pond skaters and water beetles.
How do I make one?
Once you install a pond, it’s really difficult to move it, so give plenty of thought to where you put it in your garden. A pond needs a certain amount of sunshine for the fish and to allow aquatic plants to flower. Also, take into account the type of pond for your style of garden – a formal rectangular or square-shaped pond may not be suitable for a more naturalistic garden and vice versa.
Natural-style ponds usually have a shallow shelf around the edge for growing bog and marginal plants in baskets. This will disguise the edges of the pond, making it look more natural as well as attracting beneficial insects to the garden.
Submerged oxygenating plants should be placed in the deeper centre of the pond to help keep the water clear. Other types of deep water aquatic plants keep their roots in the water and their leaves on the surface. Floating plants such as water lilies provide sunshade for the fish as well as being decorative.
It’s ready. Now what?
Once your pond is up and running, it’s ready to attract wildlife. To keep your pond healthy and avoid algae growth, it’s important to have the right balance of plants and animal life. Algae grows and thrives in sunlight, so surface plants that provide shade should cover about 50% of the pond. The addition of oxygenating plants below the surface will absorb carbon dioxide in the water, which helps starve the algae.
In autumn and winter, keep the pond clear of dead leaves and other debris which can rot and pollute the water by placing netting across the whole pond. If your pond freezes over in winter it can be dangerous for fish, so float a small ball on the surface to keep part of the water free of ice. Check regularly for ice forming during very cold periods.
How do I attract frogs to my new pond?
Frogs are incredibly beneficial creatures to have in your garden because they eat thousands of insects. One of the most important things you can do to welcome them into your pond is to go organic. Chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides are all poisonous to frogs.
But what about pest control, you ask? Let the frogs take care of them! If you stop using pesticides, a host of other hungry wildlife including birds and insects such as ladybugs and dragonflies will also move in to the area, eager to munch on any pests that show up.