Not too tidy
A good wildlife pond has a mixture of different habitats for animals to live and hide in so don’t over-manage it. A mixture of mud, leaves, twigs, stones and lots of plants provides plenty of places for wildlife to live and overwinter in.
Mix up the plants
Plants are important habitats; aim for a good mix of underwater plants (submerged), plants with floating leaves and plants that grow out of the water (emergent).
Some non-native aquatic plants can be invasive and prevent others from becoming established. A selection of native aquatics is preferable. Given time, your pond will colonise naturally.
A broad margin of plants around the edge of the pond acts as a filter and removes nutrients and chemicals from the water. Bankside plants are also important as they provide shelter and food for animals living in the pond and those that visit, including dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, frogs and toads.
A question of shade
Trees and tree roots can provide shelter for pond animals, but too much shade will reduce plant growth and fallen leaves may lead to a lot of decaying organic matter in the bottom. Try to have a balance of shade and sun.
Not too deep
A mix of shallow and deep water provides a variety of habitats for plants and animals but a pond need not be too deep. For a small pond, 1ft deep is enough for wildlife to flourish. The edges should also be gently shelving.
Care with chemicals
Be careful when using pesticides, fertilisers or other chemicals near a pond. Water draining off the land will carry these chemicals with it and if you use sprays near water they can easily drift. Small ponds are not able to dilute toxic chemicals sufficiently so they will have a big impact on plant growth and animals.
Avoid tap water
Tap water can contain high levels of nutrients such as nitrates. Using it to fill your pond will encourage algae and may turn it a murky green. Use rain water if at all possible. Water levels in ponds fluctuate naturally so don’t be worried by falling levels in summer. However, if you want to top up the pond you could harvest rainwater in a water butt.
Fish or no fish?
Many people enjoy seeing fish in their ponds, but they do not mix well with other wildlife. If you want a good wildlife pond, which includes frogs and newts, avoid fish. Don’t transfer fish, plants and frog spawn between ponds as this can introduce disease and problem plants.
Enjoy your pond
Ponds are wildlife-rich, so they are the perfect place to have a bench or seat so you can enjoy the dragonflies and the frogs.