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:
- Leave low growing leaf growth on plants as protection and hiding places.
- Good plants to shelter overwintering wildlife are: Caltha palustris Geum rivale Lychnis flos-cuculi Mentha aquatiMentha aquatica Primula beesiana Primula veris Veronica beccabunga
- Don't clear up the ground under nearby plants as wildlife will nestle into dead leaf and twigs
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.