21st Nov 2019
A nature pond is a specific type of garden pond which is designed to encourage and nurture the local wildlife in your garden. A nature pond can open up new possibilities to the gardener in terms of the types of flora which can be introduced into the garden, and offer a unique habitat for local fauna.
A nature pond can vary in size from a small old sink or tub, up to a large pond. Even the smallest pool, if properly built and maintained, can be a haven for all types of wildlife. Even if your garden is in the centre of a large city your pond can soon become a point of interest for a wide range of wildlife.
Many of the planning, designing, locating and building principals for nature ponds are the same as those for regular ornamental garden ponds. For articles relating to building a pond click here.
There are, however, a few specifics with nature ponds which will need to be considered;
Don’t feel held back if you only have a small area which you can dedicate to a nature pond, obviously a larger pond will attract more wildlife than a small pool, but a tiny pond is still better that no pond!Any container, as long as it is water-tight, such as an old wash tub, a barrel, or even a bucket, can offer some animals a home.
A nature pond should have gentle sloping areas around the edges. This will allow certain animals to enter and exit the pond. A koi pond, which will typically have sheer sides, can become a trap for animals such as frogs or hedgehogs.If you are using a container as your nature pond, such as an old wash tub, the easiest way of making it accessible is to bury it, fully to the rim. You can create ways out of the container by using a stepped pile of rocks or adding dense patches of oxygenating plants.
As mentioned above, some water-tight containers can be an ideal use for a nature pond. Check that the container will not release toxins, is not biodegradable, and is thoroughly washed before been used.Modern pond liners are also ideal for holding water, Polyex is not expensive, it is easy to fit and is fully recyclable.You should also consider any décor around the pond. Local rock can be used to crate appropriate furnishings to your nature pond, but concrete and limestone, if used in or around the pond, can adversely affect the pH of the water.
Different creatures and plants prefer varying depths of water. Having gradual sloping areas with very shallow water, building shelves around the inside of the pond and digging the pond to a good depth in the middle will further increase the diversity of wildlife which is attracted to the pond.If you wish to keep fish then the pond should have an area which is at least 60cm deep. This will give the fish areas to hide in and offer warmer water and refuge during the winter months.Adding gravel, short lengths of drainage piping, plant pots or piles of rocks to the pond floor will also create habitats and hiding places.
Filtration and Aeration
Adding a circulation pump and filter to a nature pond is sometimes perceived as applying an unnatural or artificial process to the pond's ecosystem, but a filter will actually encourage a natural balance within the pond, and help to establish and maintain a balanced ecosystem. You should definitely consider adding a filter if you wish to keep fish.There are filter systems which can be installed away from the pond and hidden out of sight, or filters which can be submerged in the pond and out of view. For more information on filter systems click here. A pond pump or air pump can be used to create water movement, which will increase gaseous exchange and help stop the pond from stagnating. You may even wish to add a stream or waterfall. Solar powered pumps and air pumps are a good compromise for people who either can’t get an electric supply to their nature pond, or who are looking for a completely environmentally friendly system. Although solar pumps aren’t substantial enough to power a filter, they can be used to circulate the pond water and aid its aeration.
A bog garden is a great extension to a nature pond, and will certainly be appreciated by many animals, especially amphibians, and can be used to introduce a far greater range of moisture-loving plants.As well as creating additional habitats, these extra plants will absorb excess nutrients from the water and help to control the growth of algae.
A bog garden is simply an extended, shallow pond edge, usually dug 10 - 30cm deep and lined with a pond liner, which is heavily planted. Pond water should be allowed to flow freely between the pond and the bog garden. Sometimes they are filled with aquatic compost and planted, but it is much easier to maintain and propagate the plants if they are potted and sat into the bog garden.
Although it isn’t too difficult and time consuming to build a nature pond, it can take a few years for the pond to become fully established. Plants can be introduced within the fist few weeks, but will take a few seasons to fully adjust to their new surroundings, and can take a number of years to become mature. Like-wise, it may take a few years for local wildlife to fully appreciate and colonise a new habitat.You should expect ‘new pond syndrome’, which is a common problem for all types of pond as they struggle to find a natural balance. Varying water parameters and sporadic algae blooms can be monitored and controlled, but should become less problematic as the pond begins to establish.It is completely down to personal preference as to whether you attempt to add wildlife, e.g. introducing frog-spawn, or prefer to wait and see what wildlife will come to your pond naturally.