How to Create a Wildlife Friendly Garden - BBC Easy
Growing the 10 Best Plants for Wildlife in
your Garden - BBC Gardens Illustrated
A Flavour of April in your Wildlife Friendly
Garden - Country and Border Life
The Rural Craft of Hedgelaying in Dorset - The
Garden in October - Country and Border Life
The Historic Welsh Gardens of Plas Tan y Bwlch
- The Countryman
Looking after the Bees in your Garden - Daily
Wildlife Ponds the Easy Way - Daily Express
Wings over Mull - a Centre for Birds of Prey -
A New Garden for Wildlife with Butterflies in
Mind - Butterfly Conservation
The Wildlife Art of Ian and Richard Lewington
- Limited Edition Magazine
'I went to Noke and Nobody Spoke' -
Fascinating Otmoor - Limited Edition Magazine
Gardening on the Wild Side of Town - New
Peter Parks and the Great Rainforest Project -
Limited Edition Magazine
The Countryside in January - Limited Edition
The Countryside in May - Limited Edition
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Contact Jenny to find out more about her freelance writing
WILDLIFE PONDS THE EASY WAY
It is often said
the we British are a nation of animal lovers – a fact that was borne out
recently when a small road in Somerset was closed for two months to allow
toads to safely cross to their spawning ponds. Amphibians (toads,
frogs and newts) fascinate us when they appear in spring to lay their eggs
in our garden ponds. Many a pond owner has been driven slightly
crazy by croaking male frogs calling incessantly to their long suffering
partners but in spite of this we love them!
If you don’t have a
garden pond and the idea of seeing huge quantities of fascinating wildlife
in your garden appeals to you, spring is a good time to get digging.
Ponds are extremely important wildlife habitats and even something little
bigger than a puddle is a worthwhile addition to your garden if you want
to help wildlife and watch nature in the raw. As well as amphibians,
a garden pond will attract birds, insects such as dragonflies and
damselflies, reptiles (especially grass snakes) and mammals. Your
local wandering hedgehog needs a drink while on his nightly forays, and a
garden pond with gently sloping edges will allow him to reach the water
Choose your pond
location carefully. Try to make sure that you can see it from a
window – wildlife watching on wet or cold days is best done from indoors!
Make sure that the spot is light and open but not necessarily in full sun.
A small pond will suffer badly from blanket weed if it gets too hot in the
summer so a little shade from a nearby fence or wall is no bad thing.
Avoid areas with overhanging trees though, as large quantities of leaves
may be detrimental to pond life in the autumn.
Having chosen your
spot, mark out the pond edge with string or a length of hosepipe.
Once you have the perfect outline (go for an easy shape to dig, such as an
oval or pear shape), remove turf if you are using an area of lawn, and get
to work with a good spade. You are aiming for at least one gently
sloping edge where frogs, toads, birds and mammals will find easy
access to the water. Make sure that you have one area between two
and three feet in depth, but the rest can shelve gently. Having a
variety of depths will provide habitat for a wider range of wildlife.
Once you are happy
with the shape and depth you will need to put in a butyl or polythene
liner. These are available from most garden centres and the staff
will be able to help you calculate the amount you need (make sure you take
along the measurements of length, width and maximum depth). Gently
ease the liner in, folding the edges where necessary. The next task
is to cover the liner with some of the soil you have removed from the
hole. This will provide a good medium for your plants to root into.
It is important that a wildlife pond has plenty of vegetation in the deep
water and around the margins and plants in baskets (with the possible
exception of a water lily in the deepest part) really spoil the natural
look you are aiming for. However, if you would like a water lily it
should be placed in position in the deepest part of the pond at this
point, as getting it in place once the water is in can be tricky.
Now fill gently
using rain water if you have some saved in a water butt, or tap water if
not, and leave to settle for a few days. Include plenty of
oxygenating plants from the garden centre, but ensure that you avoid
invasive aliens such as parrots feather and Australian swamp stonecrop.
Remove other aquatic plants from their pots and plant them straight into
the soil. Plant the margins with colourful native wildflowers such as
ragged robin, purple loosestrife and marsh marigold, as these have the
added bonus of attracting invertebrates.
Now sit back and
watch the wildlife arrive. You won’t need to import anything
(including frog spawn) as your local wildlife will quickly find the
habitat you have provided. Within a very short time your pond will
become a wonderful place to watch wildlife and perhaps try your hand at
wildlife photography. Dragonflies for instance often stake out their
territories from the top of a tall plant or reed, making this insect a
fairly easy target for a close-up picture.
Making your own
pond may not be an option if outside space is limited. Check out
your local park pond for frogs and newts or you may have a village green
with a semi-natural pond where birds drink and bathe. You can be sure
though, that wherever there’s water there will be wildlife in abundance.
© Copyright Jenny