Wildlife ponds

Posted: Friday 5 October 2012
by Kate Bradbury

I would like a bigger garden and three ponds. Why three? Well, they would be of different sizes and depths, and therefore attract a wide range of wildlife.

Wildlife pond

In common with many gardeners, I would like a bigger garden. The wish list for mine would include trees, a hedge, a mini-meadow, a shed I could stand in, and three ponds. Such is the craving that it invades my sleep – I wake and realise that, once again, I’ve been dreaming about a big, leafy, watery garden. 

But why three ponds? Well, they would be of different sizes and depths, and therefore attract a wide range of wildlife. I would dig a large, deep pond, a medium-sized pond and a small, shallow one. The large one would have a few fish in it.

The theory is that the small pond would be perfect for breeding frogs, the medium-sized one would attract newts, and the large fishpond would provide the best conditions for toads. Dragon- and damselflies, diving beetles, water boatmen, backswimmers and pond skaters may have their preferences too, and I would spend my days working out which one they favoured. Perhaps I would write about my findings from my office overlooking the ponds. (Clearly, I’ve put a great deal of thought into this.) 

By coincidence, I visited a garden last week where there were not three, but four ponds. None of them was particularly large. The toad pond was deep and had a few fish, the newt pond (which was inhabited by smooth, alpine and great crested newts) was deep but without fish, and the two frog ponds were nothing more than a couple of Belfast sinks set into the ground. There was also a giant rockery for the animals to hibernate in. Amazing. 

Toads seem to prefer fishponds because their tadpoles are slightly poisonous and so the fish are less likely to eat them, preferring frog or newt larvae. Frogspawn tends to be eaten by newts, and frogs require shallow water to breed in, so it makes sense to provide them with separate habitats.

Earlier this year, I convinced my mum to let me dig her a second pond. The first is pre-formed, with steep sides. Smooth newts breed in it, but the frogs use the pond in next door’s garden. Her new pond is small and shallow. I can’t wait to see if it attracts breeding frogs next spring.

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oldchippy 05/10/2012 at 17:59

Hi Kate just come back from the golf course with the dogs,The fairways are like your ponds with water at different levels in the undulations due to all this rain,I can't wait to move to a house with a larger garden so I can dream of my (office)over looking all my acres .Dream on!!!!!!!!


donutsmrs 06/10/2012 at 17:53

Hi Kate, I have only got a small container pond, and although it is small I do get quite a bit of wild life in there. The birds really love it and I have seen the odd dragon fly too. What I really would like is for frogs to move in.

catmint2 06/10/2012 at 20:27

Hi Kate,I would like an orchard with knarled old trees and a wood and a wildflower meadow.Not too much to ask is it?

happymarion 06/10/2012 at 22:08

Kate, live a long life and you can have it all. I had three ponds once and masses of wildlife. They wre filled in with the rubble from the building of the foundations for my conservatory and are now my fernery. I have built a wood as I love trees and the wildlife they bring I have an old orchard and wildflower spinney. I am in the process of making a shallow pond for frogs behind my raised bed potager which has been a great success in its first year. So you can have it all if you live to 84 and beyond! Never stop dreaming, Kate.

wingingit 07/10/2012 at 15:12

i need a shed or any tools will be knicked so thats slowed everything down a bit....new gardener

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