Wildlife ponds

Introducing a wild life pond to your garden provides a valuable habitat for birds, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, newts, toads, hedgehogs and a whole myriad of insect life that depends on water for their survival.

Designing your pond

One of the most important features for a wildlife pond is its shape; the most effective being a pond with an irregular shoreline incorporating a beach area for wildlife to access the pond easily.

A varied range of water depths is very useful, from about 23cm (9 inches) at the edge of the pond to 60cm or 2 feet towards the centre (or 1.2m (4 feet) or deeper for larger ponds).

Deep water in a pond gives a greater volume of water in relation to surface area, thus helping to maintain a rich variety of flora and fauna. Deeper water absorbs warmth in summer keeping a stable water temperature and helping to prevent a rapid build-up of algae. Most water plants will not grow in depths exceeding 200 cm (80"), depths.

It is sensible to encourage as much sunlight as possible to reach the surface of the water. This enables the photosynthesis to take place so that oxygenating plants can return the essential oxygen to the water on which other pond life survives.

To help sunlight reach the surface of the water, do not plant trees close to the pond on the southern banks as they would cause shading. 

Excessive build-up of algae may be due to too many nutrients being present in the water. Limited shading using oxygenators, floating plants or deep water plants will help to reduce the persistence of the algae, but try to cover only one third of the pond with a variety of plants.

Dead leaves and other decaying vegetation should be cleared from the pond at regular intervals as decomposition of dead plant tissue utilises valuable oxygen thus depriving living organisms of their life support.

Planting zones

Deep water plants such as oxygenator plants, Nymphaea and Nupha's require water depths of between 60 to120 cm (24" - 48") above their crowns. 

Marginal plants require shallow areas of between 0 - 45 cm (0 - 18"). Where marginal growth needs to be restricted the banks need to slope into the pond at a steep angle. Extensive reed beds can be created by extending a shallow area out into the pond.

Bog plants can be planted in ground just above the water table; or in an area which has been specially prepared to retain moisture.

Floating plants such as Stratiodes aloides (Water soldiers) and Hydrocharis (Frogbit) spend the summer on the surface of the pond and the winter submerged at the bottom of the pond. Try to avoid introducing “duck weed" (Lemma spp.) to larger ponds due to their invasive nature. However in smaller ponds they create a valuable habitat