Wooing wildlife into your patch

Do you have an outdoor space where you live or work that you’d like to attract more wildlife into? Why not build a pond?

That’s exactly what I did last weekend in my small garden. You don’t need a huge amount of space or need to spend much money, I dug a hole in my flower bed and used a recycled liner to create my wildlife pond. This was a really easy and enjoyable activity that has provided habitat for a new community of organisms. With 50% of UK ponds lost in the last century, you could too be helping to support freshwater species. 

There’s step by step guidance on how to build a pond on the Freshwater Habitat Trust website, and here’s what I did:

  • Found a sunny spot in my garden and cleared it of vegetationdig hole
  • Dug a hole (with the help from my dog) the shape of my liner
  • Obtained a pond liner. I came across a moulded shell at my local dump but you can also buy them (or flexible butyl liners) from your local aquatic centre. I read that 4m2 is needed to create a balanced environment, but you can get creative with what you use to create the pond, how about an old bath tub, a big bucket or big plant pot? Either way, you should build in shelves (or upturned plant pots) at different levels for marginal plants. 
  • Once my hole was deep enough and pond liner was in, I used large stones to cover the edges of the liner. You could also plant right up to the edge of the pond or edge it with stone slabs for a more formal look.
  • I then filled it with water and then added some aquatic plants. These made the pond more attractive (not just for me but for the wildlife too!) I added oxygenating plants which grow quickly to use up nutrients which would otherwise be used by algae (which block out light to other plants). Towards the edges, I placed a number of marginal plants provide shelter, breeding places and food for wildlife.
  • Et voilà, a new habitat!

If you don’t have a garden then why not talk to your school or local reserve about how you can get involved in building, maintaining or monitoring a watery space?

Talking of monitoring, my next step is to do the OPAL Water Survey to find out how healthy this pond is. It is likely that I will not find many invertebrates after just a week but I am planning to wait for the pond to colonise naturally and I will re-do the survey at the end of the summer to see if any wildlife has ventured into this new habitat. I’ll keep you posted!