Quick guide: planning a wildlife pond

Adding a pond is one of the best things you can do for wildlife in your garden – our quick guide will help you plan where to position it and offers useful design tips

A pond is an attractive feature in any garden and, with a little thought about its design and construction, can also be a haven for wildlife. Autumn, winter or early spring are good times to make one, as it will have time to settle in before the breeding season for many wildlife species begins.

Having a pond in your garden will also increase the range of plants you can grow. But what are the key things to think about before you get started?

Wildlife-friendly shape

To give easy access for wildlife, a pond should ideally have a long, shallow slope on at least one side. When water levels fluctuate, this also provides a damp habitat vital for many beetles, bugs and flies. If you’re considering a container pond that isn’t sunk into the ground, you can fix wooden ramps or add piles of bricks or stones on the outside and inside, to help wildlife access it.

Even a half barrel, with an added ramp, can make a great wildlife pond

Size and depth

In general, the larger the pond, the more wildlife you can expect to attract. A depth of 20–60cm (8–24in), which varies across the pond, will suit the majority of pond flora and fauna. But don’t despair if you only have a small space – even a mini pond in a pot will provide a useful habitat and water source for garden wildlife.

A new pond will soon attract a wide array of wildlife, such as dragonflies

Sun or shade?

Shade over part of the pond helps to reduce problems with algae and is tolerated by many pond plants and animals. However, ponds with too much shade are not good for wildlife, so choose a spot where at least part of the pond will be in full sun. This will ensure the water warms up quickly in spring, making it more attractive to spawning frogs and toads.

Making your new pond

For advice on how to make various types of ponds, see our guides:

How to make a wildlife container pond

How to make a wildlife container pond

Making a new pond

Making a new pond

Rain-fed wildlife-friendly pond step-by-step

Rain-fed wildlife-friendly pond step-by-step

Wildlife ponds

Wildlife ponds

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