"Animals favour ponds for different reasons. Adult amphibians use them to lay their eggs. Grass snakes use them to search for frogs and tadpoles. Birds use them to drink and bathe. Whether you add these features for the benefit of wildlife or to complement your garden design, you might be surprised how much pleasure you can get from wildlife watching. "
Here are some ways from the article to enhance areas around ponds:
Damp areas: Emerging amphibians are very susceptible to drying out (dessicating) in the sun. Avoid dry features (like slabs and cobbles) that heat up quickly.
Grass piles: After mowing your lawn consider making a compost heap. Secluded sunny spots are best and wildlife visitors might include hedgehogs (to hibernate) and grass snakes (to lay eggs).
Toad homes: Build a toad home for your back garden (visit www.froglife.org/resources). All you need is some basic DIY skills. With adult supervision, this can be an excellent exercise for children. When the shelter is complete, just put a few leaves and twigs inside and pop it in the garden.
Amphibian wintering sites: For amphibians you could consider making a ‘hibernaculum’: an area where frogs, toads and newts can see out the winter. To do this lay down some old logs, brick-rubble or even hardcore, and cover this with excavated soil. Make sure your hibernaculum is in an area which is not in full sun, and that the soil drains well. Encourage moss and grass to grow on the top of stones and bricks by covering with a layer of soil or turf.
Log piles & rockeries: Leaving logs and rocks around the edge of the pond helps emerging invertebrates and amphibians find shelter, particularly in winter. In addition dead wood attracts invertebrates on which amphibians can feed whilst they hide. Log piles can ensure many amphibians will stay in your garden all year round.
Lizard rockeries: South-facing rockeries might attract nearby common lizards, and other reptiles into gardens. Use the soil excavated after digging your pond.
Butterfly banks: After creating your pond, consider using leftover soil to create an excellent wildflower bank for invertebrates like moths and butterflies. Sow the soil with native wildflower seeds. Like rockeries, south-facing sunny banks are best.
Grasses and wildflower areas: Depending on the size of your garden, think about a secton/strip for wildflowers, herbs or even a hedge. This will create a more varied mosaic of wildlife habitats - butterflies and bees will particularly favour these areas.
Compost heaps: Any type of compost heap can be beneficial to wildlife even if it is enclosed. This is because a compost heap attracts lots of invertebrates such as slugs and snails - an ideal meal for any hungry frog or hedgehog. A traditional open compost heap will produce a large amount of heat as the vegetation is rotting down, which will be especially favourable to slow worms, particularly if you lay some old carpet over the top. Grass snakes visit some compost heaps in the late spring to lay their eggs.
Plants for a boggy area:
- Common Bugle Ajuga repens
- Marsh marigold Caltha palustris
- Hard rush Juncus inflexus
- Lady’s smock Cardamine pratensis
- Ragged robin Lychnis flos-cuculi
- Marsh wouldwort Stachys palustris
Image from: Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)