PROJECT: WILDLIFE POND

There’s nothing better to attract wildlife to your garden than a healthy pond. You don’t need a big garden, as all spaces large or small can accommodate these attractive features in some form or other. Even an old washing-up bowl can be transformed to make a miniature watery wildlife haven.

It’s March 2021, and the pond plant season has begun – and so have the school Easter holidays! If you don’t already have a pond, planning and making one can be an excellent garden project for children and adults alike. (Please remember that ponds also pose a danger of drowning, and young children especially should always be supervised when near them, with secure pond safety measures put in place.)

The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society have a partnership called Wild About Gardens to raise awareness of the importance of gardens in supporting wildlife, and offer tips and advice on how to make them more wildlife-friendly. Their PDF booklet Big or Small, Ponds for All is a useful and educational how-to guide giving easy-to-follow instructions on how to make a mini pond or a larger wildlife pond (both shown below), PLUS top tips for ponds, plants for ponds, pond wildlife identification guide and how to care for your pond throughout the year.

The free downloadable guide from Wild About Gardens.

Pond plant stocks will be arriving weekly or fortnightly throughout the spring. We also stock plants suitable for damp/boggy ground around the pond.

Bunched oxygenators £1.50 a bunch or 5 bunches for £7.

Most pond plants in pots £3.65 and £5.99 (but plenty of other sizes & prices too).

Ramshorn and Trapdoor snails £1.20 each.

Please note – we don’t sell butyl pond liner but we do have a range of water-tight containers; plus barley straw, aqua baskets, pond pumps, cobble stones, sand, grit & hessian squares etc.

Garden ponds are generally best situated in sunny sites, but if that’s not possible, read the Gardener’s World tips for shady ponds. Choosing pond plants which are loved by pollinating insects will help attract beneficial bugs to your garden.

Here you can find the Gardener’s World guide to making a mini-pond.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF POND PLANTS

OXYGENATORS

Oxygenating plants help to keep the pond healthy. They produce oxygen and absorb impurities.

These plants help keep the pond healthy by producing oxygen and absorbing impurities, they inhibit growth of pond weed and algae by competing for nutrients. Submerged oxygenators also provide cover for aquatic wildlife. Some oxygenators will be fully submerged in the pond, while others have some leaves and flowers which grow above the surface of the water. When using bunched oxygenators, use 4-5 bunches per square metre of water surface.

MARGINALS

These plants grow in the shallow water at the edge of the pond or in the damp ground surrounding it. They’re as important as oxygenators for making a healthy pond as they attract and provide cover for insects as well as being a good place for laying eggs. They also look good – adding height, texture and colour to the margins of the pond. E.g. Iris pseudacorus (native yellow flag iris) is a very hardy, vigourous perennial up to 1.5m in height for full sun or partial shade. Bright yellow flowers are produced in summer. It may be planted at the pond margin or in reliably moist soil. It’s excellent for bees – and one of the RHS Plants for Pollinators plants. (However, do be aware that it is toxic to pets.) Juncus effusus ‘Spiralis’ (twisted rush) is a popular plant for the pond margin or moist garden border. Its curious corkscrew leaves make a great talking point!

Marginal plants are just as important as oxygenators.
Iris pseudacorus (Yellow flag iris) is great for wildlife gardens.

FLOATING PLANTS

Aim to cover 50-75% of the pond surface to provide shade and help stop the build up of pond weed and algae. Some popular floaters are water soldiers (Stratiotes aloides) which you just drop into the pond, or water lilies, which have their roots planted in aquatic baskets, whilst their leaves and flowers float on the pond surface. Waterlilies need a still, sunny pond to do well. Large varieties should sit 75cm below the surface; medium waterlilies 50cm below and small waterlilies 20cm below. Plants should be submerged in stages as their leaves reach the pond surface. For a small pond you’ll need miniature waterlilies. Gardener’s World have a waterlily growing guide here.

RHS Guide to Planting Aquatic Plants

Photo by Diego Madrigal from Pexels

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