Planning a pond for wildlife
All water can help wildlife in some way, but if you plan your feature or pond carefully it can be a super-home, useful to all of the visitors to your garden.
A pond for all
There are some things every pond should have. Things that are important in some way to all of the species that will use it and definitely factors we should all think about before we get building!
- At least one gradual sloping side – This will provide a range of important shallow areas on which many pond-users will depend. Birds will have an area to safely bathe and drink, amphibians will spawn their eggs there and animals such as hedgehogs will be able to use it to escape if they should accidently fall in! Generally speaking, the more varied the slopes and the longer the shoreline, the better!
- Equally as important is having depth. It’s a good idea to have some water of more than 60 cm deep, so it doesn’t freeze over completely in the winter. If possible, it can be good to introduce shelves at different levels to provide varying depths for the different species which use the pond.
- Warm, sunny sites are best for most wildlife, so try and make sure your pond as an open view to the south side. You should avoid automatically placing your pond in the wet or damp, as there may be a thriving home for wildlife there already.
- Foliage and low bushes around a pond will be a great habitat for wildlife, and especially good cover for birds and amphibians.
- It can be a good idea to avoid trees. If your pond is under a large mature tree, it can fill your pond with autumn leaves and the roots of young trees may puncture your pond’s lining.
Different ponds for different needs
Some wildlife can have more specific needs when it comes to ponds. Different sizes and depths can attract different inhabitants.
Some dragonflies for example, will breed in quite small ponds, but many species of them will need a pond of more than 50 square metres.
Common frogs and smooth newts will happily make a home in ponds as small as 1 square metre, but toads and great crested newts much prefer larger ponds above 15 square metres.
Frogs will usually spawn among submerged plants, in water that’s around 7–10cm deep, however, newts will lay single eggs on plants submerged much deeper, within 30cm of the surface.
If you’re looking to have fish, such as koi carp, they will eat up lots of wildlife from a more natural pond, so an ornamental one is probably much more suitable than a wild one.
Generally speaking, the bigger the pond the better! But thinking about these different habitats, depths and sizes can help attract different wildlife to whatever kind of pond you’re looking to make.