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Water in the Garden

Water is as important as food. To maximise the benefits to wildlife from a water feature in your garden, it is essential to supply a shallow area to allow small animals and birds to drink and bathe, and a fountain or dripping water to provide oxygenation.

Many water creatures will be introduced to the pond when the plants are put in, including water snails which lay their eggs on the underside of large leaved plants such as water lilies. Flying insects will colonise the water without being introduced, particularly pond skaters and dragonflies. It also helps to add a bucketfull of sludge or mud from the established pond to help the processs along.

Frogs, toads and newts should be introduced in spring as spawn and not as adults. Try to get recently laid spawn from an overstocked pond.

Formal ponds can be adapted to the needs of wildlife. Phase out ornamental fish which will eat tadpoles and add steps to provide a shallow edge for birds, amphibians and small mammals. Soften the pool with marginal planting to provide cover for frogs and toads. Use more native species to increase the range of insect life using the plants for breeding and feeding (avoid Canadian Pondweed ‘Elodea canadensis’ which is commonly sold in garden centres and is difficult to control).

Making a Wildlife Pond

Choose a sunny site away from overhanging trees. Dig your pond at least 77cm deep, with shallow edges for plants and easy access for animals. Remove any stones then line hole with sand or aquatic underlay, before laying a butyl rubber liner. Turn liner under at the edges and cover with turf. Alternatively use a rigid preformed wildlife pool. Fill with water and introduce native plants a week later. Include submerged plants to oxygenate the water, plants with floating leaves to shade out algae and provide cover for wildlife, plants that stand up out of the water especially in the boggy area to provide for emerging dragonfly larvae

Click on the picture to see in full size.

Typical wildlife pond.
Image courtesy of Sussex Wildlife Trust. www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/sussex   

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