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Pond Life Part 3: Attracting Wildlife

At a time when many people are making the most of their immediate surroundings, turning your attention to the garden may be a welcome distraction. Over the last couple of weeks, we have looked at pond installation and some of the different types of plants that can help you to create a thriving ecosystem.

A wide variety of plants, fresh running water and enough shade should attract a good range of wildlife, but in this final part to our pond series, we look at what you can do to make your pond a thriving metropolis for a whole range of creatures, from dragonflies to newts.

As previously mentioned, your pond ideally needs a good mix of shade and sunshine. If it is in direct sunlight, make sure that your pond has coverage from plants to provide residents with the ideal habitat. A variety of depths will help to welcome a variety of species; shallow areas encourage hedgehogs, who come to drink and bathe, as well as frogs, water beetles and dragonflies. Deeper areas – up to a meter – allow frogs and, if you have them, fish, to survive through the cooler winter months.

With the right conditions, you are likely to be able to attract the following to your garden:

Frogs – need ponds to breed tadpoles, who feed on the algae in the water. Plenty of plants will provide valuable shade as well as protecting the tadpoles and young frogs from predators.

Dragonflies – enjoy sunny, sheltered areas. They breed in the water and their larvae develop on submerged plants.

Birds – need water to help preen their feathers. Preening keeps the birds clean and helps to distribute oils, which waterproof the feathers and help to keep them warm and dry in the winter.

Hedgehogs – appreciate a reliable water source. Although hedgehogs can swim, if they can’t get out of a pond, they will eventually die. If your pond is accessible to hedgehogs, avoid netting, which they can get tangled in, and make sure that you have a gentle slope – or make a simple hedgehog ramp using a plank of wood – to help access.

Newts – lay individual eggs, which are wrapped in pond leaves for protection. Newts are carnivores, living off tadpoles and invertebrates.

Water invertebrates – this covers a whole range of water dwelling creatures, including pond skaters, water boatmen and water snails.

With the right plants, pond shape and variety of depth, it is likely that you will attract most of the usual suspects to your pond. If you want to go one step further, ask your local handyman or gardener to help you to create a simple hedgehog house that can offer safe shelter to hedgehogs throughout the year.

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