How to Build a Wildlife Garden Pond

Give any child a fishing net, jam jar and magnifying glass, then let them loose to explore a pond or boggy area and they will be in seventh heaven. But however delighted your children may be with a pond, the local wildlife will be even more so.

While some people think of a pond only in terms of fish, it will attract a wide range of creatures from insects and birds to small mammals and amphibians, all drawn to the pond to drink, wash and breed. In fact although fish are attractive, if you can resist buying them you will find that your pond becomes a richer habitat, as fish eat frog spawn. If you are really keen on fish choose those that are happiest in an indoor tank and then you and your children will be able to enjoy watching the pond for the magical metamorphosis from spawn to tadpole to frog. And as frogs eat slugs, snails and other garden pests they are definitely to be encouraged. You may also be fortunate enough to witness a new dragonfly, as it emerges from its case in early summer.

garden pond How to Build a Wildlife Garden Pond

There are various ways you can make a pond more attractive and accessible to a variety of wildlife. Most ornamental ponds are designed with quite steep sides and edged with stone or concrete slabs. It is all too easy for little creatures to fall in then find themselves unable to clamber out. The hard surround may also become burning hot at the height of summer, forming an impenetrable barrier to many creatures.

All these drawbacks are easily surmounted. As to the problem of the steep sides, place a plank covered with chicken wire (to prevent it becoming slippery) so that it slopes down into pond, making a gentle ramp for birds and little creatures to descend safely. Alternatively you could collect together some large stones and pile them in the corner of the pond to form a more natural-looking escape route.

The problem of the baking hot edging slabs is overcome by growing a selection of leafy plants to provide shade and keep the paving cool. They will also provide natural cover for wildlife approaching the pond.

If you have very young children and are worried about the safety aspects of a pond, create a marshy or boggy area instead. This will attract wildlife, vet will lie much safer.

To make a bog garden lay a sheet of pond liner over a shallow dip (a maximum of 60cm/2ft deep), punch a few holes in it, then cover the bottom with a layer of gravel. Now fill with soil, water well to ensure the soil settles and is really sodden, then plant up. A good thick layer of mulch will slop the water from evaporating too last and help the plants establish themselves.

Once you have managed to attract a number of amphibians to your garden, keep them there by ensuring they have plenty of places to hibernate. A pile of logs or stones is ideal, loads love long grass in the summer, as it slays cool and damp and offers plenty of cover. However the fact that they cannot be seen makes them vulnerable to harm, especially from mowers. Tiny new frogs also start to migrate away from the pond and across the lawn, so always check long grass before mowing at this time.


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