Autumn & Winter in the wildlife pond

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Autumn in the wildlife pond

Create spaces in Autumn for the pond wildlife to feel safe:

  • A loose heap of leaves is an ideal place for amphibians to over winter.
  • Collect a heap of Autumn leaves in a 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 & 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.

Your nearby moist or muddy bog plants are important in Autumn too:

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.
  • 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.