With roughly two million garden ponds in Britain, there’s a huge window of opportunity for us to create a pond that attracts wildlife in abundance, providing you with the wildlife-friendly garden our environment is in dire need for. There are many ways you can attract wildlife to your pond, including the use of beautiful pond-friendly plants. If you have children, this will also provide a precious introductory lesson to the circle of life and the water cycle. Our guide provides all the advice you need to create a pond that attracts wildlife, giving you a fantastically rewarding experience and plenty of added interest to your wildlife-friendly garden.
How can I create a pond?
When creating a pond that attracts wildlife, you can purchase a premade mould to install into a hollowed space, or you can purchase pond lining and create one from scratch. Installing a premade mould is considerably easier than the latter, however you do not get the opportunity to free-form the pond as you would with lining. Positioning is critical to the future of your pond, so you should choose a sunny spot to ensure the pond-friendly plants and wildlife thrive in its heat and energy. However, if your pond is small and shallow, it would be advisable to place it in a sheltered position to prevent it from drying up during a hot summer.
What wildlife will I see?
When you take steps to attract wildlife to your pond, you will almost immediately find an array of creatures and insects visiting your wildlife-friendly pond every day for a variety of reasons.
Birds will be attracted to your wildlife-friendly pond to drink and bathe - this is a particularly important facility to them during the winter, as ruffling their feathers with pond water helps to spread their vital oils, insulating them against the cold weather.
Frogs and newts will almost certainly inhabit your pond - smaller frogs and palmate newts will inhabit a shallower pond, while larger ponds may attract toads and great crested newts! Ponds are a vital breeding spot for frogs, whose tadpoles need the waterborne algae to feed on. They are also vital to newts, who use the leaves of pond plants to lay their eggs on.
Hedgehogs visit ponds regularly to bathe and to hunt for small invertebrates such as slugs and snails around the moist vegetation. It is extremely important to provide something i.e. a log, plank or branch that leads out of your pond and on to land; it is very common for hedgehogs to slip into a deeper part of your pond, and as they cannot swim, they will exhaust themselves and drown.
A variety of fascinating insects will visit your pond, helping to pollinate your plants, as well as providing an important food source for birds, amphibians and small mammals. You will certainly see the magical dragonfly, who uses the pond as a breeding base, laying their larvae on the plants. Water boatmen will be a key resident of your pond, as well as pond skaters who will be seen darting across the surface; a favourite for children to watch.
Plants for ponds
There are a host of fabulous plants for ponds you can use to attract wildlife to your pond. Firstly, if you’re looking for aquatic plants that are to be submerged deep in the water, go for plants such as Nymphoides peltata ‘Fringe Lily’ or Nymphaea alba ‘White Water Lily’. It is very common for deep water plants to naturally colonise the pond without your help, so expect a couple of varieties to spring up without you having planted them!
For floating and oxygenator plants on the pond’s surface, go for Ceratophyllum Dermersum ‘Hornwort’, Stratiodes aloides ‘Water Soldiers’, Hydrocharis ‘Frogbit’, Callitriche ‘Starwort’, Ranunculus aquatilis ‘Water Crowfoot’, or Hottonia palustric ‘Water Violet’; all of which have important benefits to pond wildlife.
There are many pond marginals you can use for the wet soil around the edge of your wildlife-friendly pond that do marvellously well in soggy conditions, as well as being beneficial to pond wildlife. These include:
- Butomus umbellatus ‘Flowering rush’
- Caltha palustris ‘Marsh marigold’
- Carex pendula ‘Pendulous sedge’
- Carex riparia ‘Greater pond sedge’
- Cornus alba ‘Dogwood’
- Equisetum fluvitale ‘Banded horsetail’
- Hottonia palustris ‘Water violet’
- Iris pseudacorus ‘Yellow flag’
- Iris sibirica ‘Caesar’s Brother’
- Juncus effuses ‘Corkscrew rush’
- Lobelia cardinalis ‘Cardinal flower’
- Lythrum salicaria ‘Purple loosestrife’
- Mentha aquatic ‘Water mint’
- Mentha pulegium ‘Penny Royal’
- Myosotis scorpoides ‘Forget me not’
- Nasturtium offincinale ‘Water cress’
- Pontedaria cordata ‘Blue Pickerel short’
- Rumex hydrolapathum ‘Water dock’
- Sagittaria sagittifolia ‘Arrowhead native’
- Scrophularia auriculata ‘Water figwort’
- Typha latifolia ‘Reed mace’
- Veronica beccabunga ‘Brooklime’
Visit us in centre and speak to one of our knowledgeable members of staff for advice and information on all available pond plants.
1. Check the habit of the plant you use, it is common for pond plants to be invasive
2. Create an area of shade around your pond - this is vital for entering or exiting wildlife to shield themselves from predators
3. If you have no space for a pond, or are worried about young children around the pond, go for a birdbath instead - you will be surprised at the wildlife who use this
4. Branches put inside the pond not only enrich the water, but provide a landing platform for birds and an emergency escape for wildlife that cannot swim, i.e. hedgehogs
5. Cobbles and flat stones on the sloping side of the pond create great habitats for insects
6. Avoid introducing fish into the pond as they feed on the other wildlife