If you want to attract wildlife to your garden then one of the most important things you can do is to introduce water. Not only do ponds look great but they also attract more wildlife than almost anything else you can plant in your garden.
Water can attract a huge amount of insects to your garden including dragonflies, pond skaters, bees and butterflies, but can also attract frogs, toads and even larger mammals.
Providing access with shallow sides and gentle slopes will help to bring frogs, toads, and birds to your pond. A carefully placed branch or rock can give many animals a place to drink or bathe from. Ponds attract many species of insects including dragonflies and bees.
If you have room for a pond then this will encourage wildlife to your garden. By choosing the right plants you can create different areas that suit specific animals.
Providing Pond Access
If you have a pond in your garden already then you may have seen tadpoles or maybe even a frog or toad. You may have noticed there are plenty of insects whizzing around and on the surface and may have noticed birds coming down for a drink or a bath.
It is excellent to have an established pond but there are ways to make it even better for wildlife. By providing maintenance to your pond and improving access for wildlife you may notice that you get some different animals using your pond.
If you want to attract frogs and toads and their offspring, tadpoles, then you may wish to provide a gentle slope and shallower sides so that they can get in and out easily. This will also attract more birds as they do not have to worry about drowning.
Although your pond may not have this you can place some stones or bricks in them. If you don’t have any large stones or bricks then you can always use an upturned plant pot to give them better access. By putting these in or around the pond you can create a slope into the water. If these seem too smooth, then I would recommend some hessian to give more grip.
Shallow water can be created in this way, and with submerged planting will bring dragonflies to your pond. They may even lay their larvae, and you may notice tadpoles from a frog or toad.
Something else that I noticed brought more birds to my pond was adding a branch that broke the surface of the water. This gives them a great place to stand and drink some water.
When you are setting up your pond then try to think what the wildlife needs, but you can also think about what you can do to get the best photos or view of the wildlife in your garden.
How To Maintain Your Pond For Wildlife
There are several things that you can do to make your pond as inviting for wildlife as possible. In different seasons there are various ways of maintaining your pond.
Make sure that the oxygen levels in your pond are good so that tadpoles and other wildlife can breathe. Removing dead leaves will increase the oxygen levels in your pond so make sure to remove these when you see them. Clearing the pond in fall is essential as there are so many dead leaves that fall from the trees. There is also a lower amount of wildlife visiting your pond in this season, but it is best to leave these next to the pond for a couple of days so that any insects can move back into the pond.
Plants can also take over your pond causing less oxygen to get in so make sure that you remove any that are spreading too much. You can take them out and divide them up by repotting them. If you are removing any plants from the pond, try to leave them by the pond for a day or two. Although you may not see any insects on them, leaving them for a day or two by the pond will allow any that are trapped on the plants to move back into the pond.
If there is too much algae on your pond then this can also lead to deoxygenation. Algae thrive on debris in the pond so make sure to clear any detritus from the pond. Putting barley straw in hessian sacks into your pond can help remove excess algae.
Make sure to keep your pond as sunny as possible by cutting back any trees or bushes that may cast a shadow. This not only allows the light to get to the aquatic plants but also the heat.
If you want to attract frogs, toads, and tadpoles then it is best not to have fish in the pond. Fish will eat insects which will make the pond less appetizing for other animals. However, if you already have fish in your pond then you will still find that frogs and toads still use it.
Try to keep a rain barrel in your garden as you can use this to top up the pond. Do not use tap water as this can introduce chemicals to your pond that can upset the PH balance causing damage to your plants and the wildlife. I use the Hosana rain barrel. It holds 60 liters when full, but the reason I use this one is that the faucet isn’t right at the bottom like on so many others, giving you room to put a bucket underneath. You can find it on Amazon.
In winter make sure that you keep the ice from freezing over completely. Either break the ice gently or keep a ball that will float, like a tennis ball in the pond to stop it freezing completely.
How To Put Plants In A Wildlife Pond?
When buying aquatic plants they sometimes come in plastic baskets. These are great for keeping the roots and potting compost in place. I would recommend that if the plants come like this, however, then it is best to transfer them to fabric plant pots.
I used to use plastic pots and they almost always cracked, allowing the soil into the water. Most aquatic stores or nurseries will sell the fabric pots separately, but the ones I use are from Amazon. They don’t crack and I have never had any problems with them.
Always use an aquatic potting soil as this is meant to be used for aquatic plants. There are several different brands out there and they all seem about the same to me. Most have low amounts of compost and peat as these will float around the pond. Look for a heavy loam content as it will fertilize the soil without polluting the pond.
When filling the soil into the mesh pot, I usually fill it about two-thirds full of soil. I then place the plant into it before adding soil so that it sits just under the top. Put it in a bucket of water for a couple of minutes to water it and then cover the top with a layer of gravel.
Some plants are oxygenators and are mean to be submerged but most are not. If it is not then place the plant into the water in its final position. If you need to prop it up to make sure it is not fully submerged then you can use bricks, stones or upturned plant pots.
There are three main types of plants for ponds. These are:
Floating Plants To Attract Wildlife
These should sit on the surface of the water. However, be careful as they can easily spread and become invasive.
- Water Soldier
- Water Lettuce
- Water Velvet
- Floating Marsh Marigold
Submerged Plants To Attract Wildlife
Submerged plants are great oxygenators and can be planted in the deepest parts of the pond.
- Water Milfoil
- Water Crowfoot
- Water Violet
Marginal Plants To Attract Wildlife
Marginal plats are best planted in shallower water and around the edge of the pond.
- Lesser Spearwort
- Marsh Marigold
- Water Forget-me-not
- Swamp Lily
- Flowering Rush
Plants Around The Pond To Attract Wildlife
Plants do not only have to be planted in a pond to attract wildlife. Plants around the pond can create a perfect habitat for many different species, giving them a safe space to move between the garden and the pond.
There are many plants that will grow well around ponds and will also attract wildlife.
- Zebra Rush
- Lady’s Smock
- Salad Burnet
- Wild Angelica
- Great Willowherb
- Ragged Robin
- Arum Lily