When you are about to establish a new pond that you expect to be colonised by plants and wildlife, putting a little thought into the process will pay dividends when the build is complete. Anyone can build dig a hole, put in a pond liner and fill it with water and hope for the best, but with just a little effort you can create an oasis for wildlife in a very short space of time.
Designing your Pond
The depth of your pond should vary in different areas so there are different types of habitats and places for its inhabitants to hide when predators are around and somewhere they can lay eggs. Fish and frogs or toads all need a variety of depths to maximise their potential when colonising a pond. The deeper parts of the pond will also help the wildlife survive if we have an unusual spell of hot weather and the water level becomes lower than expected.
Creating your Pond Lining
The need for a pond lining will depend on the kind of soil in the area for your pond. Ponds dug out of clay soil will not always need a lining, but if there is any sandy soil in the area, you will definitely need a pond liner. The best pond liners will be flexible enough to mould to the shape of your pond, but strong and hardwearing enough to withstand the test of time. Rubber lining is usually the most cost effective solution for anything other than an ornamental pond. If you are creating and ornamental pond, you could probably get away with a PVC liner. When creating a habitat, a rubber liner will stop any worries about damage affecting the integrity of your pond, putting the habitat at risk.
Rapid Colonisation of your Pond
According to the Department for Environmental and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the colonisation of ponds does not usually require help. In most cases, wildlife and plant life will find their own way to your pond provided there are similar habitats reasonably close by. Any ponds or wetland habitats up to a mile away will soon provide life to colonise your water. If the pond is large enough to attract larger wildlife such as ducks, they will even carry fish eggs on their feet so within quite a short space of time you will have a thriving ecosystem. By allowing the life to develop naturally, some less competitive species will get the opportunity to take advantage of the area. Amphibians will also find their way to your pond if there is adequate access.
Maximise Colonisation through Proper Edge Construction
The edges of your pond are one of the most important areas to get right if you are creating a welcoming home for wildlife. Placing Stones in various sizes, bunched and spread out as well as large and small logs will provide excellent locations for pond life to flourish. Straight edges to ponds are not recommended because a natural edge will help create microclimates along the water. Planting long grasses along the edge also helps mix up the temperature, depths and the shade of the area, which will encourage variety in the life attracted to your pond.
Maintaining your Pond
The summer months are the most important for our ponds in the UK. Spring and summer is when new life is arriving and this is when most colonization and settlement will take place. If you upset the wildlife at this time, they may disappear for another year. Try to arrange any maintenance work in the autumn or winter when our native species are not looking for places to lay eggs or breed.