Autumn in the wildlife pond
- A loose heap of leaves is an ideal place for amphibians to over winter. Keep this 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 still be in the pond and only 1/2″ long so difficult to spot.
- 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.
- Leave oxygenating plants in the pond.
- Do not thin out before Winter as the better oxygenated the pond is in Winter the better it is for any wildlife that stays in the water.
- You can thin out in Spring.
Maintain oxygen levels in the pond in Winter
- Reduce the likelihood of animal 'winterkill' by trying to maintain oxygen levels in the pond.
- 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.
Frogs & newts may lie dormant at the bottom of a pond in winter.
- In very icy winters frogs can die of 'winterkill'.
- This 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. The 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.