Sue Sanderson

Sue Sanderson – our horticulturist expert

Sue Says
A well used wildlife pond is absolutely fascinating and makes a lovely feature too. Here are a few tips.

Choose a quiet, informal spot, away from the major access routes where the vegetation can be allowed to develop more freely. That way any visiting wildlife will remain relatively undisturbed. A sheltered position in sun or semi shade is best. Avoid siting ponds close to areas such as vegetable gardens where there is a risk of contamination from garden chemicals.

When you design your pond, remember that many visitors will not be amphibious (birds, hedgehogs, mice) so it is important that they can access and exit the pond edge safely without risk of drowning. Make sure that you incorporate gently sloping sides and plenty of shallow planting shelves. A wildlife pond doesn’t need to be particularly deep; in fact a depth of 30 – 45cm (12-18”) is plenty to encourage pond diversity.

If at all possible, use rainwater collected from water butts to fill your pond, rather than tap water which contains various chemicals from filtration processes.

Allow plenty of dense vegetation to colonise the ponds edge and offer shelter to its visitors. Incorporate the usual plant groups – oxygenators, floaters, deep water aquatics and marginals. To maximise insect diversity you may want to stick with native plant species but this is not essential. Try not to be too tidy when you clean around the pond – old rotting logs are excellent for improving the surrounding habitat.

Finally, remember that wildlife diversity takes time to develop. Be patient and allow the pond to colonise naturally. Don’t be tempted to add your own creatures, particularly not fish as they tend to eat much of the wildlife that you are hoping to encourage.

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