How do I build a pond for wildlife in my garden?
Building a pond for wildlife in your garden can be a difficult business. It’s important to plan ahead. You need to consider how much of your garden you can realistically give up for a pond, how much time you’re willing to spend managing your pond and above all making sure that your pond is built in a safe way to protect both you and the wildlife that will visit it.
For advice on how to plan, build and then manage your pond through the different seasons check out Freshwater Habitats Trust. They also provide a Pond Creation Toolkit that offers loads of free resources on building and maintaining all sorts of wildlife ponds.
If you don’t feel able to manage your own wildlife pond, how about finding a local community wildlife pond and getting involved with them. That way you can spend as spare as much time as is convenient for you whilst doing your bit for wildlife!
What pond plants are good for wildlife?
Truth be told you don’t need to buy plants to put in your pond. Over time plants will begin to grow naturally!
If you want to speed things up then garden centres stock a wide range of pond plants. Make sure you pick native species though. Alien species have a tendency to dominate ponds if not managed carefully which could be disastrous for all the native wildlife you are trying to encourage!
Remember diversity is key! The greater the variety of plants, the greater the variety of wildlife that will use your pond. Don’t forget to be patient! Ponds can take years to mature into a well balanced eco system.
Are fish good for wildlife ponds?
Not many people realise that fish are omnivores. They will happily eat any amphibian spawn, frog, toad or newt, and even young tadpoles. Having fish can damage the amphibian population that use you wildlife pond.
For advice on attracting wildlife to your pond as well as plant species to avoid check out the Wildlife Trust Wildlife Pond Pack.
It may take a little time but the rewards of maintaining a wildlife friendly pond will be immense when it’s buzzing into life!
Should I break the ice on my pond if it freezes?
Ice does very little to oxygen levels in ponds. Breaking the ice won’t make much difference to the wildlife that uses it. Any amphibians trapped under the ice are programmed to move to the edge of the pond where the ice will melt first.
If you feel you’d like to keep your pond from freezing completely then a ball left floating in your pond overnight can be removed the next morning leaving a hole on the surface of the pond free from ice. This would provide opportunities for other animals to have a drink.
It is important to remain safe when around frozen ponds. Never attempt to stand on a frozen pond - it may look solid but chances are it isn’t! Clear the snow from around the pond to make others aware that it’s there. It is never worth risking your own safety for the sake of breaking the ice for wildlife. Pond wildlife are well adapted to live in them even when they are frozen!
How should I remove a pond from my garden?
Ponds are very complex ecosystems. There is never an ideal time to remove a pond from a garden as it will always affect some creatures.
If you need to remove a pond but want to save the wildlife, wait until the end of summer or early autumn when water levels are low but before hibernation starts.
Most pond life can survive with just an inch or two of water. Give your pond life a fighting chance of survival by draining the pond in stages over a period of time to this level. Piling vegetation to the side of the pond will give amphibians and invertebrates a chance to move away.
Should I relocate the animals from my pond?
Do not relocate the wildlife from your pond to a pond in the wild. Not only is there a huge risk of transmitting disease, ponds in gardens tend to be freshwater ponds where as ponds in the wild can be one of many different types depending on the environment it is in. Transferring animals from your garden pond to a wild pond will not only harm the wildlife from your garden but the wildlife in the wild pond too!
For more information on pond management contact Amy Corton, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Rivers & Wetlands Conservation Officer, on 01305 264620 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org