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Care and maintenance of a wildlife pond

Hi everyone

Last year I had decided to make use of my old corner bath and set up a wildlife pond. I have lined it, installed a pump for water circulation and bought some plants. I have also put a large branch in so that what needs to get out can get out. My little pond is now very popular with birds although I have several birdbath in the garden. However I have now a problem with blanket weed. I am using barley straw but it does not seem to help. I do not use any chemicals in my garden! I will twirl it out regularly as the pond is small but I wonder how much damage I do to the wildlife I want to encourage. I have already found pond snails in my pond. Do I need to control the number of snails and how do the eggs look? What will lay eggs in my pond and does anyone have pictures of different eggs for identification? We do have toads and grass snakes in the area and we always have lots of dragonflies in summer. When is the best time to clean out the pond and should I scrub the sides and scoup out the sludge every year? I am a total beginner and would be grateful for all you help and advice. Gabi :)

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  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 35,462

    Hi Gabi. Well done for recycling your corner bath. Firstly, a wildlife pond does not really need a pump to move water around and eventually your pond will find a happy balance and become the pond you wish for. Secondly do not be tempted to clean out your pond, scrubbing sides etc. You can net it in the Autumn to prevent leaves from falling into the water, anything else and the whole process of the pond finding 'balance' has to begin all over again. Topping up with rain water - never tap water - when evaporation takes place is acceptable. You are doing the correct thing in terms of removing the blanket weed with the stick. One of the wide tine forks used for raking moss off the lawn is good for this. The creatures will soon find your pond and move in and any frogs, toads and newts around may end up breeding in the pond. Frog spawn comes in clumps, toad spawn comes in strands and newt eggs are individually laid on the under surfaces of pond plant leaves. Snail eggs:

    image 

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,918

    If you can get a bag of watercress from the supermarket, chuck that in. It will root in the water, and helps to use up excess nutrients which cause blanketweed. You can pull it out  easily if there's too  much.

    Make sure you also have some good cover near the pond which helps wildlife - rocks, logs, and planting . image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


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  • The_herpetologistThe_herpetologist West YorksPosts: 481

    Hi Gabi4. Do you have enough submerged oxygenating plants in your pond? Also, does the pond receive much direct sunlight? If so, putting in some oxygenators and providing a bit of shade for your pond can help with algae and blanketweed. 

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  • Gabi4Gabi4 Posts: 3

    Thank you all for your tips. I will try them. The tap water one was a good one as I had put 5 buckets of tap water in during the week to fill up and the blanket weed had really taken over yesterday. I am still interested in pictures of different eggs if anyone has any. I have no oxygenating plants. I thought the water feature would do the job? I have a mini Water Lilly and another plant for shading which looks a bit sad at the moment as the birds use the basket to have their bath. A third plant is supposed to be special for butterflies but something keeps biting the flower heads off.

    What I am really after are toads. When we moved here you had to be careful at dusk not to tread on one but they seem to have all disappeared.

    I attach some photos.If you see anything wrong please let me know.

    Thank you

    image                               image                                                 

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,918

    Plenty of cover nearby Gabi - nice plot you have image

    If you can put some of those rocks into the water to create a shallower 'ledge' area for birds and insects, that will be a good feature, and possibly a little area outside as well to make access easier.

    If there are toads in your area, I'd think they'll gradually appear. You know what they say " if you build it, they will come"   image

    Just a question of waiting.  Difficult though, isn't it?  

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Hi Gabi.

    Just a couple of suggestions from me:

    Rocks def too high for small animals needing to get back out of the water, the easier the better.   

    I have a 'beach' side which works well.Your pump will stay clearer for longer if you sit it on something like a house brick, that keeps it up out the mulm that settles on the bottom. Remember lilies won't do well with surface agitation from the water returning to the pond, the leaves will just rot, they need calm surface water. If you want to see birds bathing they'll need a shallow area (50mm/2" deep) to stand in. Have you a light in the pond? It makes it magical at night especially the colour changing LED's. 

    Last edited: 29 April 2017 19:10:13

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    Last edited: 29 April 2017 19:16:06

  • Gabi4Gabi4 Posts: 3

    Thank you Fairygirl and Gardenwiseone

    This is my front garden. I have six dogs so there is nothing going on in the back except for dug up lawn. There is not too much space in the front. The branch did float when I first put it in my pond. The problem is that it is an old bath and the sides are going straight down. I will have a thought if I can perhaps build a sunken bridge which slopes gently out of the water. I could leave a gap between the rocks. They are anyway not flat so there are already small gaps but a larger one where the bridge goes in would be better. The top edge of the bath meets the soil so hopefully this is OK. I like the noise of running water so I have to take a chance with the water Lilly. Thank you. Your comments have made me think and given me ideas.

    Gardenwiseone, what you have is more a lake than a pond and it is beautiful. I have to make due with the little space I have.

    As you said Fairygirl, all I have to find now is patience. To be honest I had a look on the internet if I can buy toads anywhere and my neighbours have been asked to put any unwanted toads in my garden. image

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