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Hi any advice on building a small pond to encourage wildlife? I'm completely new to this and don't have a clue.


  • WateryWatery Posts: 388

    There are lots of good websites giving advice. is a good place to get native pond plants.   Some garden centres have exotics that are bad for the environment cause can spread and get out of hand.  You can either use a liner or a preformed.  Apparently the preformed are hard to dig out for.  I have a bathtub sunk in the ground.   You need to have exits for frogs and small mammals.   I have a large rock that comes up out of the water.   I was worried because many websites talked about having beaches etc but I found planting baskets up on bricks turn into sort of a beach.  I have them so the tops of the planting baskets are 2-5 inches under water.   I also have some large branches half in and out to use as exits.   If you are digging out a largish pond you will have lots of options. 

    I found having a pond and getting things to grow in it was much easier than I expected.  I'd like a larger pond but I also like the idea of reusing the bathtub.   In summer, the plants surrounding it and in it completely obscure the bathtub part of it and it is easy to physically pull out blanket weed when needed.

    You will have to consider plants for around the edges as well as in the pond.  I was working on a very low budget so the first year just sowed grass seed and let it get long.   Slowly I've been replacing it with other things that I like, trying for evergreen when I can.  Things will colonise your pond on their own time.  I found  I got pond snails as eggs on the plants I ordered.

    As I said, many places give good advice about building a pond, but I just want to let you know it doesn't have to be as complicated as some sites make it.

    Good luck and have fun.

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,391

    Good advice from Watery. As to what plants to plant for wildlife my advice is to stick to natives and their near cultivars and avoid the exotics.  Some are really bad and invasive and have spread to our waterways and the Environment Agency spends millions every year to remove them. 

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Bog beanBog bean Posts: 7

    Does anyone have a solution to birds pulling up young pond plants. I have small pond which I am trying to plant the margins of using baskets. The pond is a pre-formed liner and whilst it has a shelf around the edge it is quite deep. So I have used the baskets to try and create a margin raising them on bricks or tiles so they are at the right depth.  The problem is that I think blackbirds are then using these to both stand on whilst they have a bath and to search for food. They have uprooted several young Iris  ensatawhich I then find floating in the pond   So I covered the top of the soil with gravel. Birds have just chucked this in the pond as well.  I have now resorted to using chicken wire to try and keep the birds of but it doesnt look v pretty. 

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,391

    Bog Bean: the chicken wire should work until the plants are established.  In a few weeks they will be and the birds will no longer harm them and you can remove the barriers.   

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Bog beanBog bean Posts: 7

     thanks Redwing. I hope so. 

  • Bog beanBog bean Posts: 7

    The Iris were given to me by someone who collected the seed in Japan so they are a bit of a gamble, but seem to be doing Ok at the moment. 

  • Bog beanBog bean Posts: 7

    imageNot all native plants are well behaved. So be careful what you plant. The mass of tangled roots in this pond is bog bean. It will choke a small pond in a year or two. I have taken the decision to try and remove it completely this autumn but know that there is probably little chance without emptying the pond which I don't want to do as it is full of Newts and a haven for frogs

  • image

    I've got 4 ponds, all of which are teeming with life, but have made mistakes en route. Some tips:

    - Position the pond in direct sunlight, but with some shade.

    - Log piles and / or a rockery around the pond.

    - Use water lillies. Frogs and dragon flies love them

    - Use lots of submerged oxygenating plants

    - Either design the pond with gently sloping sides, or use trailing pond plants to enable amphibians and hedgehogs to escape

    - Avoid using tap water to fill the pond if possible

    - Clear the pond of algae, dead leaves and duckweed every so often

    - Let the grass grow long around the pond to provide hiding places

    - No fish! They eat all the other pond life

    - Make sure the pond is at least 70cm at its deepest point

    - Don't use compost for pond plants, but proper pond growing medium which has less nutrients

    - Ask a fellow pond owner for some pond silt. It will contain many microscopic larvae and will help get your own pond started 

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