Autumn & Winter in the wildlife pond

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Autumn in the wildlife pond

  • A loose heap of leaves is an ideal place for amphibians to over winter.
  • Keep a heap collected in wire mesh so leaves do not blow back into the pond water.
  • Use a pond net to cover the whole water area so no leaves fall in but take care not to trap frogs and hedgehogs in it.
  • Provide log piles and homes for amphibians near the pond so many creatures have safe places to hide and overwinter.

Remove surplus horizontally growing plants from the pond but check that you have not also removed wildlife creatures.

  • Dragonfly larvae spend several years under the water before emerging as adults and these larvae easily become removed from the water when you are removing plant growth.
  • Late hatchings of newts can stay in the pond over winter and can be hard to see at 1/2″ long.
  • Backswimmers or Greater Water Boatmen will also become trapped if you collect armfuls or netfuls of plants in a mass.
  • Shake the plants you are removing over the pond to free the creatures.
  • Leaving the plants on the side of the pond is not sufficient if you have twisted the plants or blanketweed into a ball or tight clump.
  • Unravel, open out and shake over the water.

Maintain oxygen levels in the pond in Winter

  • Leave oxygenating plants in the pond.
  • Do not thin out before Winter as the better oxygenated the wildlife pond is in Winter the better it is for any wildlife that stays in the water.
  • You can thin out oxygenating plants in Spring.
  • Clear any fallen snow from the ice so that submerged oxygenating plants can see light and be able to photosynthesize and produce oxygen.
  • Leave  a pump running over the winter as pushing the water back to the pond will help pump oxygen into the water.
  • Reduce the likelihood of animal  'winterkill' by maintaining good oxygen levels in the pond.

Frogs & newts may lie dormant at the bottom of a pond in winter.

  • In very icy winters frogs can die of 'winterkill'.
  • Winterkill occurs when toxic gases are released into the pond water through decomposition of dead leaves without sufficient oxygen to complete the process.
  • The water becomes deoxygenated in darkness ie under a blanket of snow across the pond surface.
  • Submerged oxygenating weed will not photosynthesize in the dark.
  • This lack of oxygen leads to a build up of toxic gases in the water.
  • Seeing the frogs on the water surface in the thaw can be upsetting to pond-owners.
  • By preparing the pond as carefully as possible in Autumn you will be doing your best to give all wildlife creatures the best conditions you can to overwinter successfully.