Many people are keen to make a space for nature in their garden. One of the best things you can do is make sure you have some open still water somewhere. Not only frogs, toads and newts, but dragonflies and damsel flies and many other invertebrates depend on access to open water. A 1996 National Pond Survey recorded nearly four hundred different invertebrates living in ponds around the country, including small garden ponds.
Sadly, many of these species are in serious decline. The agricultural landscape used to have lots of ponds and pools but the arrival of piped water for livestock means many of these have disappeared and so have the chances for the water dependent species trying to maintain viable populations.
It is not just the amphibians and insects that need the open water. Many people have bird feeders in their gardens, but the birds also need access to water for drinking and to bathe in shallow water to keep their feathers clean. Of course, all the life in a pond will be part of a food web. A pond will also have insects flying above it which will attract and feed birds such as Grey and Pied Wagtails. Hedgehogs will be attracted to a garden with a pond as a source of drinking water and insects to eat, but you need to make sure there is a way out if one falls in.
If you have a new pond, you can give it a start by introducing things from someone else’s pond, but the remarkable thing is what will colonise it by natural processes. On warm summer nights, water beetles will be flying about looking for a new territory. One thing you asked not to do is to collect frog spawn from other ponds and move it to your pond. The change of water could kill the spawn and the move might spread a disease that is affecting amphibians all round the world. Frogs, toads and newts spend summers exploring large areas around their birth ponds and will probably blunder into your pond if there is space under your garden fence.
Your pond doesn’t have to be an elaborate structure. It would be great if you have space for a large pond set up with different depths to cater for a range of wildlife, but an old washing up bowl sunk into the ground will support some life. There is plenty of advice on how to start a pond, these two websites are a good place to start.
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