Bringing nature home: wildlife ponds

Ponds are amazing spaces for wildlife, supporting a wide range of species and providing homes for some really special creatures. Yet numbers have seen a big decline in recent years, partly due to our quest for neater gardens, but also so that land can be utilised for agriculture and development.

However, we want ponds to make a comeback, along with the wildlife that relies on them!

Whether you’ve got space for a patio pond in a pot or a vast expanse of water, every little helps. In return, you’ll get endless joy out of watching birds, bugs, amphibians, and even bats visiting your garden.

So, can you make a space for wildlife in your garden? Even a small container pond can bring a big boost for wildlife!

How to build wildlife ponds

You’ll need:

  • A spade
  • A large container or pond liner
  • Stones, bits of wood, and old bricks
  • Native pond plants

First, plan your pond. Think about how big you’d like it to be, and where the best location in your garden is. Ideally, it needs to get plenty of sun and be in a safe spot where children and pets are in view at all times. If this isn’t possible, you can consider restricting access to a section of garden using a small fence, or some strategic plant pots. Remember, nature isn’t neat, so your pond doesn’t have to be perfect. The most important thing to remember is to try and create different depths to attract a wider range of wildlife and to remember to make ramps so that anything that accidently falls into your pond can leave easily and quickly.

  1. Plan your pond outline with a hose pipe or string. If you are using a container or preformed liner, then make sure your hole will be the right size. Then get digging!
  2. Once your hole has been dug, you can place your liner or container in the hole. If your soil is really rocky then try and remove any sharp stones or fill the bottom of your hole with builders’ sand or a pond liner underlay.
  3. Wait for the rain! Using rainwater is the best way to fill your pond as drinking water contains additives that are great for people, but potentially harmful for wildlife.
  4. As your pond is filing you can add plants, bricks, stones, and wood to your pond. This helps it to look more natural, but also provides ramps and access for wildlife. Remember, most of creatures that go into your pond will need to come out again!
  5. Once your pond is filled you can bury the edge of your pond liner, or disguise your pond edges with stones.
  6. Wait for the frogs to flock to your garden. It might take time, but plenty of other creatures will visit in the meantime.

If you don’t have somewhere to dig a pond, then don’t despair! You can still make an amazing wildlife feature. Try using old, clean containers instead. Old barrels, washing up bowls, plant pots, and troughs can all make beautiful wildlife friendly mini water habitats.

What do frogs eat?

Frogs are a gardener’s best friend, as they love to eat snails and slugs (so remember not to use slug pellets which will kill our amphibian friends). They also eat worms, flies, and moths. On the other hand, tadpoles eat tiny insects and algae, which will probably establish fairly rapidly in your pond before reaching a balance. A well-established pond and a wildlife friendly garden should provide plenty of froggy food.

Do frogs always live in the water?

Depending on how active the frog is, they might spend months underwater! This is because they hibernate in winter and bury themselves in muddy pond bottoms. For the rest of the year you can expect your frogs to dip in and out of the water, so make sure they have somewhere shady, cool and damp to hide in when they leave the water. An overturned plant pot set at an angle and filled with leaves, twigs, and pebbles is perfect.

Can I take frogspawn from another pond?

No, you should never disturb frogspawn. It will disrupt their development and could spread diseases. Plus, your new pond may not be established enough to support them, so let your frog families move in and settle down at their own pace.

Do I have frogspawn or toadspawn?

Frogspawn looks like balls of jelly clumped together, whereas toadspawn is laid as a big, long string of eggs. Once your tadpoles are a few weeks old take a look at their colour, toad tadpoles are black, whereas frog tadpoles are green with flecks of gold.

For more guidance on frogs, ponds, and all things amphibian, visit our friends at Froglife, a national wildlife conservation charity concerned with the conservation of the UK’s reptile and amphibian species and their associated habitats

Share this: