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Wildlife gardening ideas: Attracting pond life

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:38 UK time, Monday, 30 May 2011

There are loads of ways that you can help wildlife in your garden. Having a pond will attract a multitude of flora and fauna from damselflies to frogs and newts.

You don't need to have a large garden to have a pond. You can make one out of a range of different containers that don't require any digging at all!

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Choose your container
Ponds don't need to be that deep so you can choose a fairly shallow container, but first you need to make sure that its water tight! Old bath tubs, oak barrels, wash tubs and even buckets will do.

Make it accessible
If you're just going to be standing your container on the ground and not burying it then it's also important that it's shallow so animals can get in and out of it (You can always help this by creating a stepped pile of rocks next to your pond).

Lay the foundations
Putting sand and pebbles on the bottom creates a substrate for you to bury plants in and for insects to bury and hide in. It's important that the sand is plain old builders' sand and that the pebbles are washed as you don't want to contaminate the pond before you even start!

You can create some shelter in your pond by adding some larger stones, again make sure they're clean before they go in.

Fill it up!
Fill your pond with rain water. It's important to use rain water as tap water has chemicals in it which will be unhealthy for your pond life.

Finish with a flourish
Finish off your pond by popping some plants in. Native plants are best and if you can get them from a local source then even better!

Put the pond in a shady spot as you don't want it to over heat in direct sunlight.

For more advice on ponds check out Pond Conservation's pages on making ponds for wildlife where there is plenty of information about how and when to create your pond, pond sizes, planning permission and fish.

Let us know how you get on with the ponds in your garden. We'd love to hear your tips for attracting pond life. What works... what doesn't work?


  • Comment number 1.

    I've recently taken over a new allotment and today stared to dig over an over-grown bit of the plot to make a wildflower bed. To my horror I have disturbed a bumble bee nest. Should I leave it and hope for the best - there were at least a dozen frantic bumble bees flying around? Will it be possible to re-claim that bit of plot at some point if I put in a wood nest house? I've heard that they are not very succesful.

  • Comment number 2.

    I dug a pond out about 7 years ago, and let it self stock itself. I now have lots of frogs, a few toads, loads of newts (all common I think), drangonflies, damselflies, etc.
    Here's one of the frogs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tmv_media/3897401699/
    The flowers around the pond draw in a selection of solitary bees.

  • Comment number 3.

    Feather: is it from a stork?

  • Comment number 4.

    I have been 'in charge' of my garden pond for appox. 18 months and last year was fascinated by the tadpoles development. Following research advice, I sloped one side to assist the emerging froglets onto land. Over the last year I have put 2 'Frog/Toad Halls' near the pond (which the frogs regularly sit in) and planted ground cover plants (to give shelter from predators as well as log-piles to keep a steady supply of bugs. I rely on the frogs to manage the Slug population too. I also placed oxygenating plants in the pond as well as a solar powered oxygenator.

  • Comment number 5.

    Don't forget to leave a ramp of wood or stones so that if a hedgehog fell in it could climb out.

  • Comment number 6.

    I managed to obtain an allotment last year. The first thing I was given by a neighbouring allotment holder was an old corner bath, which I have used to gather water & create liquid manure. This year I intend to sink the bath to ground level. The intention is to attract wildlife to the 'pond' which will assist in controlling pests i.e. slugs and snails.
    I am also placing a couple of nest boxes & bird feeders to attract birds which should be able to feed on aphids & other insect vermin.
    The advise given on building ponds is extremely helpful.

  • Comment number 7.

    I have recently made a pond from an old belfast sink. Have put a couple of aquatic plants in and goldfish. Have got a solar pump/fountain. Do you think this enough to keep the water clean.

  • Comment number 8.

    If you make a pond like the one shown, as well as a ramp out for froglets etc, you will need a ramp in for frogs and newts to climb in.

  • Comment number 9.

    Several years ago my wife and I took the idea from Geoff Hamilton, and sank a half barrel into the ground, put in some oxengenationg plants and let nature do the rest. Today we have three frogs that have moved in and the local birds use it to bathe and drink from. It's also brought in a great number of insects. Together it helps keep the garden healthy

  • Comment number 10.

    I am currently digging a wildlife pond with a pick axe! The ground is brick hard and full of rocks! How deep does the pond have to be? All the websites say the deep part has to be at least two foot so that hibernating frogs will be ok when the pond freezes. But here it says the pond does not have to be very deep. So I wonder what is the correct depth for a garden pond?

  • Comment number 11.

    I added a small wildlife pond to our garden last year which attracted frogs. During the harsh winter it froze solid and I lost the frogs. Other than increasing the depth of the pond to ensure it doesn't freeze solid has anyone got any tips on how to keep this from happening again. Can it be covered with anything which will still allow light and oxygen in? I hadn't realised until the frogs died that they can overwinter at the bottom of the pond.

  • Comment number 12.

    @paulne: as long as your pond has enough aquatic plants you don't really need a pump, and many pond animals prefel still water anyway. Also, if your making a pond for wildlife, it's better not to put in fish, as they will eat many of the creatures you want to attract.

  • Comment number 13.

    i have just been taking some overgrown weed out of my garden pond and found a complete fish skeleton with a tadpole in each eyehole, im presuming tadpoles scavenged it

  • Comment number 14.

    We dug a pond a couple of years ago and wildlife just arrived! There's always something new going on -- I found a perfect dragonfly exuvia yesterday and also some weird and wonderful eggs. See my blog https://pondmaths.blogspot.com/ for pictures.

  • Comment number 15.

    Two years ago my husband and I decided to dig a pond in the back garden, within a day it was dug, lined and filled. After leaving it for a few days to settle, I noticed the first water bugs making use of it. We now have a variety of insect that have made a home in the vegitation from water boatmen to pond skate, damsel flies to dragon flies. The only thing missing is frogs, but considering the insects that are using the pond I can't complain. We have endless fun sitting watching and listening to the buzzing of the insects and birds using the pond on and the surrounding vegitation on a sunny afternoon and there is always something different to see and hear.

  • Comment number 16.

    In our tiny terrace garden, which is only 4m x 7m, we've got a small 1m x 1,5m pond that is now about 8 years old. We've planted native pond plants around and in it, and today I've spent ages watching the newts. I counted 6 newts, a couple of frogs and still masses of tadpoles just starting to grow their legs. We get damselflies, the odd dragonfly and plenty of other pond bugs. The pond shares the space with birdfeeders (the local sparrow gang are regulars) and a wildlife garden and a tiny patio area for ourselves. And we're lucky to have resident pipistrelle bats too. I love our pond!! And you don't need a massive garden for it either!

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    For the attention of Jeremy Torrance- love your film on how to make a container pond! I work at a childrens nursery in Edinburgh and have recently received funding from the scottish forestry commission for the development of a wildlife garden. We are wanting to make a small container pond and this little film would be wonderful to show the children- is there any way we could get a copy please? We do not have the internet at the nursery but we have a tv that plays dvds. Thanks Natasha

  • Comment number 19.

    Perhaps Springwatch could do something on the life cycle of newts. When the programmes start most amphibian activity has finished but newts are still busy displaying until June and the larvae are around until October. They are easy to film in a wildlife pond and this could help create more interest with viewers and maybe encourage people to have ponds without fish. This would be good for the wildlife and save on all the pumps etc. that are needed to keep the water clear for fish. If you have the space, place some logs along the edge so that they are partially sunmerged. this is brilliant for dragonflies. Don't use gravel or stones at the edge to cover your liner, they get too hot and dry for amphibians to cross when they leave the water. Only use native plants in the pond as these are better for the wildlife. Don't add any fish. Make the margins slope very gradually, this helps to create the natural look and allows easy access for anything trying to get a drink or bathe. Try and fill it using rainwater from water butts, gutters etc., it takes longer but it will be better for it. I now have six ponds and am busy creating another two. These have frogs, toads and newts - who needs fish!


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