Creating a wildlife pond isn't difficult and you'll soon have an impressively varied habitat and eco-friendly environment.
Whether constructing a pond yourself from scratch or buying a pre-formed one, bear in mind that it needn't be huge to have have a beneficial effect on your garden. Any area of water will soon become a habitat for wildlife, but larger ponds will naturally become a much more diverse environment.
Our blog 'How To Build A Garden Pond' will guide you through the different types of pond, choosing a site for a wildlife pond is similar to an ornamental one, away from any trees to avoid falling leaves that decompose at the bottom of the pond and in a sunny position that offers some shade. There should be deep water (at least 2ft) as well as shallow (less than 1ft) and if possible a bog or marsh area of saturated earth on the edge.
This arrangement will result in different water temperatures, and the deep water will not completely freeze over winter so it provides a safe hibernating place for amphibians. Shelves at different levels within the pond are essential for marginal plants that prefer different depths and sloping sides will give wildlife easy access (as well as exit). Surrounds covered with grass or vegetation are important to shelter wildlife.
Plants and Planting
There's no doubt that aquatic plants enhance a pond's natural appearance and they are also beneficial, absorbing nutrients and providing shade from intense sunlight which would otherwise encourage algae, green water and blanket weed. Plants also provide shelter for fish and provide a convenient spawning place for both fish and insects.
You'll need deep water, marginal and bog plants and our recommendations on the best ones are contained in 'Which Plants Can Be Used In A Pond'. Do your research, most plants will be labelled with the planting depth and growing height. Instructions on how to use plastic baskets and specialist aquatic compost, which contains slow rather than fast release fertilizer, can be found in our 'How To Plant Aquatic Baskets' blog.
In addition, oxygenating plants are essential. These are readily available from garden centres or aquatics retailers and are weighted so they sink when thrown into the pond. They will increase the water's oxygen content during the day but grow quickly and will need to be regularly thinned out.
Maintaining Your Pond
This shouldn't be too difficult. In addition to the oxygenating plants, some others will need to be controlled. Every year or so in the autumn, reduce plants threatening to take over the pond and remember never to include any non-native invasive plants such as Parrot's Feather. Place all vegetation that you have collected on the side of the pond for several days so that creatures can crawl back into the pond.
Fish are bad news so don't add them or else they will feast on eggs and invertebrates, reducing the frog population and diversity of species. Do not be tempted to add frogs from elsewhere to prevent the spread of disease. Those that want to will magically find their own way to your pond.
Don't worry too much if water levels drop during hot weather, some creatures lay eggs and plants set seed in any mud that is revealed. If you have to, refill little and often using rainwater from a butt not in one go using tap water which will adversely affect the pond water chemical balance and temperature.