How To

Create a Wildlife Pond

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One of the best ways to attract wildlife into your garden is by creating a shallow garden pond. It will become a mecca for dragonflies, frogs, lizards and small birds. Be cautious, however, if you have small children in the family or as regular garden visitors. It might be better to wait until the children are older before installing your pond. And, of course, a pond may not be a wise choice if you live in an area that’s heavily infested with mosquitoes. Still water is their favourite breeding place.

Where to site the pond

A frog-friendly wildlife pond is best situated in a spot that gets dappled light during the day but never enough sun to heat up the water. On the other hand, don’t have trees directly overhanging the pool as leaves falling into the water and rotting can cause problems.

Make sure the pond surrounds include some hiding places for wildlife. A few rocks or a natural-looking log would be ideal. A dip in one side of the pond makes a useful entry point for lizards and frogs. If the pond sits above ground level, you’ll need to construct a ramp up to the sides. This can be made out of sand, gravel or a tree branch.

Planting

Plants around the pond not only provide shelter for frogs, they create an ideal habitat for other creatures. Choose reedy native varieties such as Isolepis or Juncus for the edges of the pond. Flax also makes a good streamside plant and there are some very attractive new varieties available these days. Mazus radicans (swamp musk) is a ground-covering plant that loves damp conditions.

Plants don’t all have to be natives. Cannas, especially some of the newish coloured leaf varieties, do well in the damp areas around a pond. Their vertical growth helps them to stand out against a shrubby background.

Floating plants such as waterlilies provide hiding places for tadpoles and frogs, and bridges for small lizards. But, in order to flower well, waterlily plants need a reasonable depth of water and quite a few hours of sunlight each day.

Fertilising

Choose carefully when feeding plants near a pond. Under-fertilising is preferable to over- fertilising. Organic pellets such as Biogold are the best because they’re gentle, slow release and don’t carry high levels of soluble nutrients. Try not to let fertiliser fall or wash into the pond; high nutrient levels will inevitably lead to the formation of algae.

Pest control

Select pest control methods for streamside plants with even more care. Never allow chemicals to contact the water in the pond. If it’s absolutely necessary to apply an insecticide, select soft options like Nature’s Way Insect Spray and use a shield to keep it away from the water.


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