Creating a wildlife pond for a garden

Discover the most important features of a good wildlife pond, in this practical No Fuss video guide.

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In this No Fuss video guide, wildlife expert Kate Bradbury looks at the main elements needed when creating a wildlife pond in a garden. She looks at the importance of sloping sides, a wide range of pond plants (including oxgenators, marginal plants, tall stemmed plants and plants such as waterlilies that cover the water surface) plus the need for some dense, low-growing foliage around the pond to provide shelter for emerging wildlife.


Creating a wildlife pond for a garden: transcript

When creating a pond for wildlife, it’s important to consider a few things before you start. The shape of the pond doesn’t matter, but it’s really good to have shallow, sloping sides and different depths as that attract different species of wildlife.

So, all along here, you’ve got the shallow areas along the edges and that’s really important for tadpoles and aquatic insects, which hang around in these shallower areas, hiding from predators. Shallow areas are also really important for hedgehogs and frogs and toads, which enter and exit the pond easily. Steep-sided and deep ponds can cause problems for hedgehogs in particular, which enter the pond to have a drink and then can’t exit and they can drown in really deep ponds.

So what I really like about this pond as well, is that it’s lined with grass, that kind of anchors the frogs and the hedgehogs and enables them to climb out like a net. This is much better than if you had just had a stone edge of the pond, which is quite hard, and that can get quite hot in summer as well, which can cause problems for baby frogs when they’e coming out of the pond. When planting up your pond, you need a mixture of marginals, submerged plants and floating plants. So you’ve got the marginal here – the marsh marigold. Another really good example of a marginal plant is water forget-me-not. Brooklime is also really good. These also have flowers which are good for pollinators. Tall-stemmed plants are also really good. So, yellow flag iris is a good option, especially if you’ve got dragonflies and damselflies in your pond, because when they’re ready to leave the ponds, they just climb up the stems and then you see them holding on there until they shed their nymphal skins. Here we have water lilies, which are suitable only for the deeper areas of the pond; and these leaves float on the surface of the pond, providing shelter for tadpoles and aquatic insects beneath them. But you may also get baby frogs sitting on the leaves and then sometimes you’ll get honeybees landing on lily pads, which use them as a sort of landing pad from which to drink water from the pond, which is really gorgeous.

Pondweed in small doses also provides a good habitat. Again, it shelters tadpoles and aquatic insects, as do other floating plants such as frogbits. And then you’ve got your oxygenators, such as hornwort, which sits just below the surface of the pond and again, provides that much needed shelter for tadpoles and aquatic insects.

Another thing to consider is what you plant outside your pond. It’s really important to have lots of low-growing, dense foliage. If you can imagine baby frogs and toads, when they first emerge from the pond, low-growing foliage instantly protects them from predators such as blackbirds.

So, when building a pond, you’ve got different depths; you’ve got shallow, sloping sides; you’ve got a range of plants within the pond; and you’ve got lots of low-growing, dense foliage outside the pond. Perfect for wildlife.

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