Build a wildlife pond

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Choosing where to build a pond for wildlife:

  • Make wildlife ponds in a place in the garden where the creatures will feel secure.
  • Build your pond in a secluded part of the garden.
  • Try not to place your pond under trees.
  • Falling leaves will give you a maintenance problem in Autumn.
  • Build it in a place that is large as your space will allow.
  • Shape doesn’t matter - create your pond to fit your garden style.
  • Wildlife ponds can be preformed plastic or fibreglass or made using a flexible liner.
  • The flexible liner tends to look more natural and blends into the garden more easily.

Build a good wildlife pond:

1. Create a whole wildlife pond habitat area:

  • Surround a wildlife pond on one or more edges by planting a moist <p>Suitable for moist soil (damp but drained)</p> habitat, wet bog garden <p>Suitable for waterlogged soil (wet mud)</p>  or hedgerow around the water to increase biodiversity.
  • This protects amphibians from birds and other predators.
  • Every pond forms part of a network of natural habitats.
  • Each is valuable as carbon sink to absorb carbon dioxide and as a place to protect wildlife biodiversity.
  • Wildlife will make numerous journeys in and out of the water in a season so plant densely nearby any water area and don't cut back the leaf growth.
  • Amphibians return to water to mate and lay eggs.
  • They hibernate over Winter in nearby wood piles or under garden buildings.
  • Wildlife will find your pond quite quickly if they have 'safe corridors' of planting as cover to use.
  • Avoid placing wildlife ponds near patios, tarmac drives, fences and short, mown lawns. These make wildlife journeys more hazardous.
  • Leave gaps under fencing between properties to allow wildlife to wander in naturally or replace a fence with a hedge.
  • Choose a hedge with flowers for pollinators then berries as a food source for birds.

How to be a good host to visiting wildlife:

1. How deep should a garden pond be?

  • Build a wildlife pond 45 - 60cm (18" - 2' ) deep
  • If you have a small garden space then shallower is still worthwhile ie a bucket, belfast sink or container will still attract wildlife
  • It does not have to be very deep as most wildlife stays near the surface where there is most light.
  • Frogs and newts lay eggs in plants on the 15cm (6") shelf area
  • Make one-half of the deepest water depth for toads and dragonflies- the deep area can be offset from the centre of the pond.
  • Do not add soil or gravel to the pond bottom.

2. You should add shelves or platforms to a lined pond:

  • Create planting shelves at different depths - 13-15cm (5-6") and 22cm (9") for different zone plants
  • Make the planting shelves as wide as possible
  • Planting shelves can be curved differently to the outline of the pond's outer edge.
  • Try not to build a thin rim of shelves 6" wide evenly around a larger surface area of deep water as this will be unbalanced when you come to plant.
  • Have one-half of the pond surface area as different width shelf planting areas with most as a 6" deep shelf.
  • Our container ponds have a grid to operate as a shelf so there is a deep area and a way to keep shallow water plants above the deep base area.

3. Should I add soil or gravel to the base of my garden pond?

  • No - we do not recommend adding either to the base of the pond as in the years that follow you will want to clear excess debris & sludge from the base of the pond and you will remove that soil and gravel at the same time.
  • Adding nutrient rich soil will encourage early algae and blanketweed.
  • The plants do not need soil or gravel in the base. They arrive from us in mesh baskets of the correct clay loam soil.

4. More detailed digging instructions to create wildlife garden ponds are available on:

5. Why should I add pond plants to my wildlife garden pond?

  • Shelf pond plants join the water area to the outside garden area.
  • Place the pond plants on the marginal planting shelves in the baskets they are delivered to you in by us.
  • Pond wildlife will use these plant baskets as 'stepping stones' to climb out.
  • Upright flowering shelf pond plants attract airborne bees and butterflies.
  • Cobbles and rafting plants in shallow water create hiding areas near the edge of the pond for cover and protection of the water wildlife.
  • Oxygenating plants in the deepest water keep good water quality.
  • Waterlilies and Aponogeton distachyos give surface cover to reduce the amount of sunshine reaching the water.
  • Correct planting mix from the start will help combat blanketweed and other algae.

See more details on plant selection for wildlife ponds.