Choose a site to build a wildlife pond in a part of the garden that is secluded where the creatures that visit the pond will feel secure as they come and go.

Siting the pond:

Your pond should have easy access in and out so sloping sided areas or plenty of vegetation they can use as ‘stepping stones’ to climb out. If you can surround it on one or more sides by planting from a moist habitat, bog garden or hedgerow then that will give the amphibians greater cover and protection from birds and other predators as they look for food. Or create a pile of stones or rocks near to a shallow stony beach where they can quickly find shelter.

Amphibians return to the pond water to mate and lay eggs after winter hibernation on land in wood piles or under garden buildings. They will make a number of journeys in and out of the water in a season so plantings of uncut foliage will link these areas together. Patios, tarmac drives, fences all divide up the natural garden and make wildlife journeys more hazardous.

Try not to place your wildlife pond under trees as the falling leaves will give you a maintenance problem in Autumn.

Build a pond profile with different depths of shelving:

The pond should be built to a depth of 45 – 60cm (18″ – 2′ ) – shelf <p>Suitable for shelf depth 23-44cm (approx 10-17”) below water surface</p>, with other plant shelves at different depths – 15cm (6″) for shelf <p>Suitable for shelf depth 0-13cm (0-5”) below water surface</p> and 30cm (12″) for shelf <p>Suitable for shelf depth 14-22cm (approx 6-9”) below water surface</p> plants.

These should be as wide as possible to accommodate the different marginal plant species and the areas of water they grow in and can be curved differently to the outline of the pond’s outer edge.

Do not 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. One third to one half of the pond surface area should be given to different wide shelf planting areas with most to the shelf at 6″ deep and only one half to the deepest water section which can be offset to the centre of the pond.

The pond plants should be placed on the shelves in their baskets and the pond wildlife will use these to get out of the water. It is more successful if you keep the pond plants in separate baskets rather than planting them all directly into mud on the shelves as the vigorous plants will take over the entire shelf area and the less vigorous plants will be swamped.

To allow creatures such as hedgehogs a way to climb out if they should fall into the pond at least one side should be made as a sloping shelf to the surface. In between the cobbles used to cover the liner on this sloping shelf you can use pond plants that enjoy water at their roots but not too much depth of water over their crowns. You could use Caltha palustris Alba, Veronica beccabunga, Juncus ensifolius or Cyperus eragrostis and these will also provide habitat cover for small amphibians as they venture out of the pond on this route.

For more detail on plant selection for your wildlife pond see the next section or click here