Small / medium gardens
You can choose the size of your pond to fit your space. Formal, straight-sided ponds usually have vertical sides so are not wildlife-friendly unless a sloping end or ramp can be incorporated. So when making a wildlife pond from scratch, you may instead prefer to go with a more natural shape, especially if setting your pond into other wildlife-friendly garden features such as a meadow or long grass. It’s good to aim for a pond with a lot of margin since much of the wildlife will be found in the shallow water and margins. If using a pre-formed liner, check the shape of the moulding to be happy it has planting shelves and a decent slope.
Think about how you will top up your pond in very dry spells, especially if it is big. Siting a pond near to a building where rainwater can be collected off the roof or diverted directly through a pipe to your pond makes good sense – it is always preferable to use rainwater than tap water. However, avoid positioning the pond where fertiliser may run off from adjacent lawns or beds as this will turn your lovely wildlife pond green with algae.
More on pond construction and giving wildlife a helping hand:
Container ponds or a ‘pond in a pot’ are ideal for courtyard or patio gardens. Or even a balcony or roof garden where flying insects such as dragonflies and pond skaters can still make use of them. Stone troughs, old sinks or baths and large, glazed or plastic pots are suitable once drainage holes have been plugged or a flexible liner fitted. A minimum water depth of 20-30cm (8in-1ft) allows a few plants to be added. Wooden barrels should be thoroughly rinsed out and made watertight before planting up. Fill with water and keep topping up until the swelling of the wood seals any leaks.
For a great weekend project, check out our step-by-step of how to make a wildlife container pond:
Bubble fountains or birdbaths
Where small children are at risk, a bubble fountain or birdbath with only a thin film of water is a safer option that will still attract birds. Those with pebbles in offer a handy drinking spot for bees.