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Wildlife pond management

We have a small 'wildlife pond' in our school garden which has been left largely alone for some years and is starting to look a bit sad. There are a few parents keen to help resurrect it. It was originally lined, but the liner has a lot of tears in, and there are now two established trees growing through it on the waters edge. There is also a stoney bank which has got covered in silt and mud and had grass growing through it now. there is a lot of sludge in the bottom, reducing the depth to about 40cm (originally about 60 I think). What is your advice on reclaiming this for wildlife? We wanted to put a few native plants in this year to aid dragonflies etc, but I'm not sure if much will grow with so much mud and sludge increasing the nutrient level of the water? At the same time we didn't want to clear it and refill it if newts might be hibernating and the mud at the bottom was fine?



  • WCM, how big is the pond; is it in sun/part shade/full shade; is it situated on sloping ground (even a slight slope); are there trees nearby; is it still full of water despite the liner being torn?

  • Hi joe. Thanks for replying. It's about 2m x 1m, in part sun (the trees will give some dappled shade I think in the summer when they have leaves again). it's not slopped, there aren't any other trees nearby, just the two which are growing into the pond. It has quite a lot of water in it, but the bottom is covered in a thick sludge and it looks like leaves have blown in and started to breakdown,

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    WCM if the liner is intact and its not losing water then you could tackle it now. If you can get the trees out from the edge then do so, the roots will find a way through if you don't. Get your volunteers and a couple of rakes and buckets. You can bail out half the depth of the pond and drag out some of the detritus in the bottom, which you leave on the side of the pond for a few days to give the wildlife time to get back in. Most of the wildlife won't resent the disturbance too much and with the mild weather some will be waking already. After a few days remove the detritus and let the pond fill naturally, it will quite quickly with the rain we've been having. Don't refill with tap water. You can add some marginals when it's filled a bit and they'll quickly establish as the weather warms. Wildlife ponds don't need huge maintenance they need ignoring to a degree. There will be loads of critters in there already and you'll see them. If you do it now it'll be just in time for frog spawning. You may have some already and toad spawn so look out for it. Just because it looks bad doesn't mean its not full of life already, nature isn't always pretty. In autumn you can net the pond to reduce leaf litter, the wildlife won't care. They only need maintenance every few years or if they are clogged up. 

  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,140

    As the liner has several rips in it, I think your only option is to pull it all out and replace with a new one, perhaps you can make it a bit bigger while your at it. 

    If you take the muck out, very carefully you will see the newts and frogs,  but if it were me, I would leave it as it is for now and have a good go in the later part of the summer holidays, by then there will only be snails and other tiny creatures which can crawl back in. You can collect as many as can see and keep in a bucket.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Thank you so much. I've taken some photos in case it is any help. Should I dig out that pile of stones and grass where the little beach was and replace it with a new beach?







  • Sorry that they're all the wrong way around. I'm a bit useless with technology!


    I don't think it's loosing water. There is a water butt in the playrgound beside which is overflowing and we could use to refill?

  • ZenjeffZenjeff Newcastle Upon Tyne Posts: 641

    Just tap on the photos and they will enlarge and go the right way round image

  • Peanuts3Peanuts3 Posts: 759

    What a great link, I was just about to post similar question about our school pond.  I noticed this morning it is full with leaves as surrounded by trees, i will clear out the leaves next week and see how we get on.

    Good luck WildCityMum, it's always hard work getting parents involved and any funds to help with school gardens. Hope it goes well.

  • I just thought I'd update you all and thank you for your kind advice,

    We have frogspawn!

    We did a very simple tidy up for now as man power was limited, and time and resources before the frogs wanted to spawn. (It seems very early this year?) we removed any debris, and pulled some weeds and grass out, but left a lot of the stones which had grass growing though them. (we might lift them later int eh year and remove the grass and then return them again). We're going to move plants from the pond in the larger nature area shared with an adjoining school, hopefully later this week.

    We're building some places for the frogs to hide beside the pond later in the week, time allowing.

    I'll keep you updated later in the year if you like.


  • peanuts3 - how are you getting on? Parents were very enthused initially, but interest has tailed off a little! I'm hoping frogspawn might re attract them a little. And some sun... 

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