You might not think you have the space for a garden pond but don't worry.  If you are short of space then you can even make a wildlife pond in a container.  Read on to find out how to make a wildlife pond to attract wildlife, whatever size your garden is. 

What are the benefits of building a wildlife pond?

Building a wildlife pond in your garden is a fantastic way of providing essential drinking water for birds and animals. They are a food and drink source for an array of wildlife which will increase and improve biodiversity in your area.  

There are also benefits to you as a gardener.  As well as attracting more pollinators simply attracting frogs to your garden will greatly reduce your slug and snail problem allowing you to relax more in the growing season.

What Wildlife does a pond attract?

Wildlife ponds are great for many species of garden plants, bird’s mammals

and insects and can such as frogs, dragon flies, water snails and pond skaters to name a few.  They also provide drinking water and habitats for insects including pollinators such as bees.

When should you build a wildlife pond?

You can build a wildlife pond anytime. The jury is out as to the perfect time to build a pond.  Some argue it is better if started in late autumn and winter and others say the best time to build a wildlife pond is from mid-spring until early summer.

How long does it take for a wildlife pond to establish?

It can take a between one and two years for a wildlife pond to be fully established.

What things do need to be considered when building a wildlife pond?

There are several things to consider when planting a wildlife pond and this includes shape, size, lining and siting.

What shape does a wildlife pond need to be?

Shape is an import factor when making a wildlife pond. It is important to make the pond as accessible as possible to many different species so you may want to have a section of the pond which has a gentle slope.

What kind of liner does a wildlife pond need?

Wildlife ponds do need lining, with butyl liners being the easiest way to create a natural-shaped pond. They’re lightweight, easy to manipulate into shape and any excess can be trimmed away. The pond can alternatively be sealed by pouring in puddled clay or bentonite on the bottom, but this can be time consuming as well as tricky. Pre -formed plastic and fibreglass ponds are best avoided.

What size does a wildlife pond need to be?

There is no limit on the size of a pond.  The ideal size depends on the size you have available as even the smallest pond in a container will provide a habit and water source for wildlife. In general, the larger the pond the more wildlife you can expect to attract.

Pond depth is key.  Pond flora and fauna are suited to a varied depth of 20-60cm varied across the pond.

Is it possible to make a wildlife pond in a container of pot?

It is possible to make a wildlife pond in a container, but it needs to be on rather than sunk into the ground. Fix a ramp of some sort on both the outside and inside of the container for access. Insects such as bees need a 'beach' area as they can drown if they are unable to land where they can access the water.

Where is the best area to build a wildlife pond

Ponds will be best in an area where part is in full sun and part in shade. 
Tadpoles, spawning frogs and toads thrive when a pond is in a sunny position
with part of it receiving full sun. Sunlight will warm the water quickly in spring which will attract wildlife and boost plant growth. Full sun can cause algae to go wild though so wildlife ponds also benefit from being partly shaded.  This helps reduce algae and problems associated with it. Many pond plants and animals also benefit from shaded areas.

How do I build a wildlife pond?

Step 1: Identify an area with some full sun and some shade. If you don't have such an area then you could consider some additional planting to provide the needed shade.  Dig a hole ensuring that two sides are straight, and that one side has a sloping beach style entrance.
Step 2: Remove any sharp stones and roots and then line the hole with 3 inches of sand. You will need more sand for the bottom of the pond once the liner has been installed. Do not leave the liner exposed to the sunlight for too long as it degenerates in sunlight.

Step 3: Dig a shallow trench around the outside of the pond hole. Cover the hole with a liner and tuck the edge into the trench. If there is too much liner for

the trench, trim it with scissors. Fill the trench back up with soil and weigh it down with large stones, rocks, or bricks.

Step 4: Fill the pond up, ideally with collected rainwater.

Step 5: You can add sand or pebbles to your sloping beach style entrance if you wish and place logs and stones around the other edges to create habitats for visitors.

Step 6: Wildlife ponds take a while to settle.  Leave the pond for a few weeks before introducing any plants. You can leave the pond to naturally colonise with native plants if you wish though these could take longer to establish, and the variety may not be as great.

What type of plants should I put in my wildlife pond?

Wildlife benefit from various types of pondweeds (such as Horned Pondweed

and Fennel Pondweed) as these are completely submerged and are oxygenated plants.

Attract bees and butterflies by planting wildflowers of pollinator friendly plants around the outside of the pond.

Introduce floating plants such as water lily as this not only provides shade on the pond but also a place for wildlife to stand on. Be careful not to introduce too many of these as they grow rapidly. They can also cause algae because of their ability to trap heat in the water.

Semi-aquatic plants that emerge from the pond including water iris are not only visually beautiful but are perfect for dragonfly larvae.

These ideally grow in shallow water but also do well around the outside.

Does a wildlife pond require any maintenance?

Wildlife ponds do not need cleaning as such but from time to time a wildlife pond needs a bit of maintenance.

In hot weather consider providing extra shade and top up with rainwater to stop it drying out. In the autumn excess leaves will need to be removed from the pond or prevented by covering with a net. Each season vegetation needs to be cut back and algae needs to be controlled. When removing algae be careful to only move a small bit at time so that habitats are not destroyed or disrupted.

We hope that this has shown you how to make a wildlife pond and inspired you to build your own.  If you do then be sure to take some photos and tag us in on our social media pages.