HOW TO ATTRACT WILDLIFE INTO THE GARDEN WITH A POND





Building a wildlife pond, or even converting over from an existing one, is one of the best ways to encourage birds, insects, mammals and amphibians back into your garden. Over the past 100 years the British countryside, along with its wildlife, has been severely impacted with the loss of nearly 70% of its ponds. The majority of these have either been drained by encroaching developments or filled in by parents with young children. With such a huge loss in natural habitat the creation of new ponds has never been more important.

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Of course any pond can be beneficial to the garden, but one made especially for wildlife will tempt many more of God's creatures to it. A range of birds and small mammals will be drawn in to take advantage of a reliable water source, while exotic dragonflies and damselflies will arrive to breed in a safe and stable environment. There is good news for organic gardeners too as the proliferation of frogs and toads will do a fantastic job in keeping down the dreaded slug population without the need for slug pellets.

However a successful wildlife pond requires one rather major sacrifice. NO FISH!

This may seem to be a strange request at first, but as soon as fish are introduced they will begin to feed on your precious invertebrate and tadpole population undermining all of the good work you've done.

How to make a wildlife pond

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The most important aspect to creating a wildlife pond is its position within the garden. Choose a sunny site as this will help it to attract the greatest variety of wildlife. If you can, try to position it away from deciduous trees.  This will not only help you to avoid extra maintenance from removing fallen and rotting leaves, it will keep the water in better condition. Also, building your pond near a flower border will allow visiting animals a little extra cover from predators. If you choose to place your new pond in the the lawn, you could always leave an area around the perimeter uncut.

For the winter protection of hibernating newts, amphibians, hedgehogs etc, you may also wish to consider creating a nearby wood pile or large rockery to act as protection. 

The size of your pond will of course depend on the size of your garden, but with wildlife ponds 'bigger is better' if you want to attract the widest range of species possible. However anything is preferable to nothing, but the minimum size for an effective wildlife pond would be about 2.5 metres by 2 metres.

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While the overall shape of the pond is not important, its profile is. Try to incorporate different depths and shallow areas to the pond including at least one gently sloping slide to enable animals to come and drink without the risk of drowning. Should they fall in, and many hedgehogs have drowned in garden ponds as a result of slipping whilst drinking, create a gently sloping edge as this gives them a fighting chance to get back out safely. It will also give you the opportunity to grow a wide selection of marginal plants as these will happily live in depths from just a few inches to about 9 inches. For water lilies and other deep water plants you need to have at least one area of the pond down to about three feet deep. This will also help to provide a safe place for aquatic animals to overwinter. 

Once you have designed and dug out your shape perhaps the easiest way to line it with a pre-cut sheet of PVC or reinforced PVC lining. Both should be fine for up to 15 years, but always check the guarantee. Butyl rubber is still one of the best liners for strength and durability with a massive 25 year guarantee. However it’s reasonable to expect butyl rubber to last nearer 50 years. Irrespective of which make of liner you choose it is always worth checking online for the best prices.

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Before your liner goes in you'll need to protect it from any sharp edges that may protrude from the soil once it’s under pressure from the water. You can either buy a pond underlay from a suitable retail outlet or you could choose to make your own from sand and old carpet. Once in place, lay your chosen lining on top of the carpet. To work out the size of liner required all you need is the length, plus twice the depth, added to your necessary overlap. Use the same equation for the width.

Fill the pond with water and then leave for at least a week before adding plants. To help speed up its establishment take some mud and water from an existing healthy and established wildlife pond.

Once the pond is complete, the very best way to attract native wildlife to your newly built habitat is to add as many different native species of aquatic plant as possible. Such plants are the cornerstone of a successful wildlife pond and critical in encouraging a diverse range of creatures. Try to include submerged plants to help oxygenate the water; floating plants for shade and shelter; and tall upright plants for dragonflies.

When it comes to maintaining your pond, remove excess plants every couple of years. The best time to do this is in late autumn. Any plants that are removed should be left on the pond edge overnight to allow any small creatures to find their way back into the water.

For related articles click onto the following links:
ARE SLUG PELLETS POISONING OUR NATIVE WILDLIFE
How to Attract Wildlife into the Garden with a Pond
HOW DO HIGH NITRATE LEVELS AFFECT FISH HEALTH?
HOW TO GROW PAPYRUS - Cyperus papyrus
HOW TO MAINTAIN AND LOOK AFTER BIOLOGICAL SPONGE POND FILTERS
HOW TO MAINTAIN AND LOOK AFTER A HEALTHY POND
Native British Pond Plants
Sacrificial Planting
WATER LILY - Nymphaea species and cultivars
WHAT CAUSES POND WATER PROBLEMS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
WHAT IS A DRAGONFLY?

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