Make a mini wildlife pond

Providing a water source is one of the best things you can do for garden wildlife. It doesn't have to be a large pond – or even a small one. Wildlife loves water to drink, bathe in and cool down. A simple shallow dish can serve as a bird bath. Add some pebbles for thirsty insects to land on.

If you fancy creating a pond it's easier than you think and you won't need much space. Even a mini container pond will attract plenty of visitors. Amphibians like frogs and newts might make your pond their home, as well as pond skaters, water boatmen and pond snails. Birds, bats, bees, dragonflies and even hedgehogs and the odd grass snake may stop by for a drink or a dip. 

You will need:

  • A clean container that can hold water – like a washing-up bowl, a big plant pot (without holes), a bucket, an old sink or a half barrel
  • Some gravel, pebbles and rocks
  • A few pond plants
  1. Find a good spot. Your pond needs light, but a shady position is best. Perhaps put it near the edge of the garden so wildlife can find it more easily. Bear in mind that even mini ponds are dangerous to young children, so make sure yours is in a safe place.

  2. Dig a hole to sink your container into or sit it on a surface. Put a layer of gravel (not soil) at the bottom, then add a few pebbles and a bigger rock or two.

  3. In the water, pile rocks and bricks to form a slope, from the bottom of the pond to the top edge – this will allow small animals (like hedgehogs) to climb out if they fall in.

  4. If your pond is on a surface – so it's raised above ground level – you could add a ramp on the outside (use a plank or branch or a pile of stones), so that wildlife like frogs and toads can get in and out easily.

  5. Fill the pond with rainwater. You can collect this from a water butt or simply leave the container out in the rain to fill. If you use tap water, leave the container outside for a few days to allow any chemicals to evaporate.

  6. Add your water plants – the plant's label will give planting advice. They can sit at different levels, but most of the leaves will need to poke out of the water.

  7. Once ready, sit back and wait for creatures to move in. Don't transport them from other ponds, though, as that can spread disease. It may take weeks, or even months, but they will come! And birds and insects can enjoy your pond from day one.

Looking after your pond

  • Top up the water level with rainwater, when necessary, and check that the slope is still there.

  • Remove any decaying plant material. Leave it by the edge of the pond overnight in case there are small animals or insects in it.

  • In winter, leave a rubber ball floating on the pond. Then, if the water freezes over, remove the ball – that way, any animals in the pond will have oxygen. And birds will still have a water supply.

Five plants to add to your pond

  • Water plants add oxygen to the water and help keep it clear. They'll also provide shelter and shade for pond life. Here are five good all-rounders to keep an eye out for at your local garden centre.

  • Water forget-me-not (bees love it)

  • Marsh marigold

  • Miniature waterlily

  • Slender club-rush

  • Lesser spearwort

Take our pledge!

If you build a bird box in your garden or outdoor space, don’t forget to tell us! Share a photo, tag us on social media, and use the hashtag #WildlifeFriends

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