No wildlife garden is complete without a pond of some kind. The larger, the better, but even if you only have a tiny patio, it’s still worth trying to find a small shady corner, to sink an old ice cream tub or something similar.
If you have enough space to dig a proper pond, you will need to vary its depth to suit different plants and aquatic wildlife. Make sure you leave a shallow ‘beach’ area for creatures to enter and leave the pond, as well as providing them with plenty of plant cover nearby so they don’t feel exposed as they come and go. And once built, try to fill your pond with rainwater or water from a nearby pond. When choosing plants it is important to use only native – which have co-evolved with native aquatic wildlife – and to include a variety of floating, oxygenating, and marginal species. Spiked Water Milfoil is a great oxygenating plant, as are Water violet and Common Water Crowfoot. Marginals might include plants such as Marsh Woundwort, Water Mint, Ragged Robin, and Purple Loosestrife; and for floating deep-water aquatics, consider Hornwort, Frogbit or native Water Lilies. There are plenty more to choose from.
Some aquatic plants are extremely vigorous and can take over, so it’s worth getting expert advice to make sure you get the planting balance right. Once you do, your pond will require little, if any, maintenance throughout the year.
As the plants begin to settle, you will be amazed by how quickly your pond becomes colonised by all manner of weird and wonderful creatures. Expect water snails, pond skaters, frogs, newts, dragonflies, water boatmen, whirligig beetles and many more exciting visitors – which all seem to appear from nowhere! Not to mention other non-aquatic birds insects and small mammals who will welcome the chance use your pond to quench their thirst, or take a bath. Our most regular visitor is a Crow, who turns up most mornings with a hunk of stale bread (from a neighbour’s lawn) which he drops in our pond to soak and soften, before he eats it.
Having a pond in your garden provides hours of interest and entertainment and within a couple of years you will wonder how you ever thought your garden was complete without one.Kate Bradbury’s book How to Create a Wildlife Pond is packed with useful advice, and DDS Aquatics, in Henstridge, provide everything you need to get started.