5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Pond1st October 2022
Tips For Cleaning Out A Pond31st October 2022
If you have a garden pond, you probably pay less attention to it during the colder months, when there is less obvious activity going on. However, many of the creatures that you see during the spring and summer may be hibernating in the pond, or in other sheltered sites around the garden.
Therefore, it’s important to make sure that your garden pond remains wildlife friendly to help overwintering creatures survive and thrive. Here are some steps that you can take this autumn.
In the pond
Some amphibians will leave the pond and hibernate in damp habitats on land during winter, while some may hibernate among the plants at the bottom of the pond. These creatures, mostly frogs and toads, but occasionally newts, can survive with relatively low levels of oxygen, but they will die if the pond is completely deoxygenated.
It is important to have some oxygenating plants in your pond over winter, to maintain the oxygen levels and provide shelter. If there is a lot of snowfall overwinter, clear the snow from the frozen surface on a regular basis to allow some daylight to reach the pond. Keep a floating rubber ball or some other device to stop the water freezing over completely.
If possible make sure about a third of the surface of the pond is exposed to sunlight at any one time, to allow the plants to photosynthesise. This is the process by which plants take in carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into oxygen, which they then release back into the environment.
It is helpful to clear out any obviously dead vegetation and decaying leaves before winter, because these can release toxic gases, which combined with low oxygen levels caused by ice cover, can build up to fatal levels for amphibians. If your garden has a lot of leaf fall, try putting a net over the pond in autumn.
If you keep fish in the pond, it may be beneficial to install a pump system to keep the water sufficiently oxygenated over winter. Goldfish are fairly hardy, but Koi carp will struggle to survive in a poorly oxygenated pond which is left completely frozen over.
In the garden
Bog plants which in remain in leaf over the winter provide useful sheltering places for wildlife. Look for plant species such as brooklime (Veronica beccabunga), Japanese wood fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) and Chinese marshflower (Mazus reptans) generally hold some leaves over winter. Leave any twig and leaf debris around your bog garden in place, because they may be sheltering wildlife.
Amphibians will seek out corners of the garden, such as compost heaps, underneath paving slabs, or piles of rubble to spend the winter, so try and leave these undisturbed if possible.
You could even consider building a dedicated hibernaculum for wildlife. This is a purpose-built area which is damp, but not soaking wet. Add log and twig piles, or piles of rubble, to provide sheltering places, and cover them with loose soil, wood shavings, or turf.
If you would like some more advice about pond plants in the UK, please get in touch today.