Guest Post: Creating a wildlife pond

With foreword by June:

Thank you to Rachel, from Bradshaws Direct, who has written this month’s guest blogpost. Helmsley Walled Garden used a range of materials from Bradshaws to help create our first wildlife pond, now teeming with life and full of healthy native British water plants. Many of you will be familiar with our beautiful dipping pond, located in the centre of the garden. This original feature was used by gardeners in the 18th century to fill their watering cans, hence its very central location. Although a lovely feature, we wanted to create a pond that would be more accessible for wildlife and that we could fill with native water plants.

Funded by the Finnis Scott foundation, our natural pond has become a haven for wildlife and is a popular spot, enabling our visitors to see for themselves how even a small area of water can attract creatures, such as dragonflies, to the garden. One of the great features of our wildlife pond is the colourful and informative interpretation board we’ve added. The board gives visitors an idea of the types of plants they could use in their own pond and lists some of the creatures that they might hope to find there. Of course, our curious ducks love the pond just as much as our visitors do and, in an effort to protect the creatures living there from greedy bills, the ducks now have their own luxurious pond within our chicken run. Ponds are great fun and not difficult to build – see some of Rachel’s tips below on how to create your perfect pond – and they are one of the best ways of increasing biodiversity in your garden.

The Wildlife Pond at Helmsley Walled Garden, funded by the Finnis Scott Foundation

Guest Post by Bradshaw’s Direct

Over the years, the number of ponds in the UK has reduced by half. Wildlife ponds not only provide a tranquil place to relax and listen to the calming sound of running water, they also encourage biodiversity. Ponds designed to attract wildlife can create a wonderful home for so many different types of invertebrates, amphibians and even birds using the pond as a watering hole. You could expect to see pond skaters, dragonflies, frogs and toads, and even ducks in larger ponds.

Creating a wildlife pond is easy, it can be as big or as small as you like. Even a small body of water such as a recycled trough or barrel will attract wildlife. You can use a pond liner to make any pond water tight, like the Pondkraft Polyex Pond Liner, or the Firestone EPDM liner we provided for the wildlife pond at Helmsley Walled Garden in 2021.

A wildlife pond surrounded by flat grey stone to make it easy to access
A wildlife pond created by a customer of Bradshaws Direct, showing lilies for shade and a shallow edge – easy access for wildlife to get in and out of the pond.

Plants are an important part of any pond. Plants that are native to the UK and will flower are the perfect option for attracting wildlife. Caltha Palustris (Marsh Marigold) will grow beautiful bright yellow flowers in the Spring time, attracting bee’s and butterflies, and Nymphaea Alba (water lily) will provide shade.

Caltha Palustris – Marsh Marigold

If you’re thinking about creating a wildlife pond, here are some of our recommended dos and don’ts:

  • Do plant native UK plants – Especially flowering ones!
  • Do use floating plants to create shade
  • Do try and have an area of around 60cm depth
  • Do provide a shallow area for easy access for frogs and toads to get out
  • Do provide a layer of large stones and cobbles as they provide the perfect habitat
  • Do buy yourself a bench to sit and enjoy your pond!
  • Do remove or eradicate any duckweed
  • Don’t top up the pond with untreated tap water, always use a water butt, or use a tap water treatment
  • Don’t add invasive non-native plants
  • Don’t add fish, as they will eat all the wildlife!

Spending time outdoors is great for both our mental and physical health, and what better way to encourage yourself to get outside than by creating a home for so many different types of wildlife and improving the environment. If you need any further advice or information on creating a wildlife pond, Bradshaws Direct will be happy to help!

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