If you want to bring wildlife into your garden, there is no better way than adding a pond to your space.
Wildlife of all sizes need water to live, the old saying “build it and they will come” must have been originally said about a pond.
Even a small pond can quickly attract a huge range of wildlife, including water boatmen, dragonflies, frogs and even newts. A complete ecosystem will arrive at your doorstep in a short time.
In turn a pond will become a place for birds, hedgehogs and bat’s to drink and find food.
Now this all sounds epic. Are you imagining a large expansive pond surrounded by iris in some stately country garden? Don’t think you have room?
Well I’m here to prove a pond doesn’t need to be big. You can even have a pond on a patio or balcony if you don’t have a garden!
What Size Should You Make Your Mini Pond?
Starting small is also a wonderful idea if you do have space. Starting with a container pond to gain experience nd succeeding in getting a small pond working well is a wonderful way to make sure your comfortable with the needs of a pond and you can always scale up.
We decided to add a mini pond to an unused area of our garden to help attract wildlife to our patch by using a garden trug .
This size is small enough to be safe around kids and large enough to attract all sorts of wildlife into our garden and safe enough to have around kids.
Kids love water and exploring pondlife and they learn so much about lifecycles, mini beasts, food webs and so much more.
You could use a washing-up bowl, a large plant pot with any holes sealed up, or an old dustbin.
Anything that is at least 40cm deep, as this is a good depth of water for wildlife to over winter safely.
Build A Mini Garden Pond – Where To Start
Choose Your Location
A pond is normally situated in semi shade so the sun doesn’t hit it all day as that promoted the growth of green algae.
We chose a semi shaded area of our garden next to some ivy. We already have a lot of wildlife hiding in the ivy as the kids have hidden some homemade bug hotels inside it.
This is our ackward area that’s not been finished since we landscaped our garden, so now it’s our wildlife corner.
You have 2 options for your container. *
- Either dig down into the earth
- Have it sitting up above ground.
You need to consider how wildlife will reach your pond and make sure you provide a way in and out.
For example, you don’t want a hedgehog falling in and unable to get out.
We chose both!
As we have a small wall running around the garden we decided to extend that and fill in the space around the pond so it sits level with the soil around it and wildlife can access it.
We will make a ramp on one end so it tapers down like a ramp.
Making Mini Garden Pond
Make sure your container is watertight and sturdy enough to hold a lot of water. Even a small pot can be very heavy when full of water.
You don’t want it to split or fall over once full.
If you want to use a specific container but find it is cracked or has holes, you can seal it with pond sealer or simply use a pond liner.
Next Step In Making A Mini Container Pond
Place a layer of gravel, sand and soil in the bottom.
One would do, but I’ve found different kinds of wildlife like different depths and areas to call home, so provide different types of bases can help to attract a wider variety of mini beasts.
Try to provide different heights by using logs or stones to build up one side in steps or a slope so there is away to climb out.
You also need areas for wildlife to bask and get out of the water.
We don’t want tiny tadpoles enjoying your pond and growing into frogs only to discover the can’t get out to find food.
You also need to consider how wildlife like frogs will get to your pond.
Making a ramp of soil, burying your pot so it’s level with the soil, or building rocks up to make a slope are good ideas.
We are bringing the ground level up to the height of the pond then sloping it down on one side.
Fill Your Mini Garden Pond.
Filling a pond should be done with rainwater as tap water contains chemicals that will kil pond life.
It maybe possible to store rainwater in a water butt before starting your pond or you can build it and wait for it to fill naturally.
Add Plants To Your Garden Pond
Once the pond is full of water. You need to decide on the plants.
In a small pond you don’t want to overdo it but there is a few to chose from.
I”d love to have a mini waterlily eventually, one like Nymphaea “Pygmaea Helvola, but I want to let the pond settle first.
We added some oxygenator weed Elodea Densa whick helps so prevent your pond going smelly and stagnant.
Other options are;Lesser spearwort, Marsh marigolds, Iris’s or Flowering rush.
There are so many plants that suit small ponds so search around for what suits you best.
Remember though, different plants prefer different growing conditions.
- Some may like to be planted deep in the water like water lilies and oxygenating weed
- Others prefer to be in a pot on a small ledge half way down such as Marsh marigolds
- And again other groups like to be planted around the edge of the pot, drier but close to the pond.
Try not to take offers from friends for some of their pond plants. For example, we were gifted a piece of oxygenating weed from a friend, luckily we noticed it was covered in lots of clear jelly sacks stuck to the weed which turned out to be snail eggs.
If we had put that in out small pond we would be over run.
Introducing material from other ponds can result in introducing problems that will unbalance your pond before you start.
Once established, your pond will attract an ecosystem to it of a size and variety it can sustain. So please don’t be tempted to add items from others as this can spread diseases.
Your Mini Garden Pond Is Complete!!
All that is left to do is sit back and wait. Very quickly, pond life will find your little oasis and visit it regularly.
They might even move in.
Surrounding your pond with habitats can help beneficial insects and pond life to call it home and stay close by. Some ideas are;
- Adding clay pot for wildlife to hide in on the floor of the pond.
- Make a pile of stones around a sunken clay pot can make a wonderful “toad abode” where frogs and toads can hide in and eat the slugs and snails around your garden.
- Adding a bee or bug hotel for insects to call home can be as simple as a cut off plastic bottle full of hollow dried stems Place in a sheltered area
- Place small logs and sticks around the pond in a mini ‘log pile’ for beetles and beneficial insects to call home.
- Don’t introduce fish to a wildlife pond as they may eat yound tadpoles and pond life.
How To Care For Your Mini Garden Pond.
After a few weeks the ecosystem of your pond will change. This is a good thing and it means your pond is coming alive. The main thing you need to keep an eye on is the water level, keep a pail full of rainwater and in warm weather, top up the level on your pond.
If you cannot get rainwater, fill a pail with tap water and leave it aside for a week or so for the chemicals to disapate.
Try not to worry if you see a build up of algae (green goop) or worm like creatures in the water.
- Algae can be removed using a stick, simple twirl it around in the water like your King candyfloss and pull out the green weed. Leave your ‘lolly stick’ on the pond side so the creatures can crawl back into the pond then get rid of it.
- Little maggots in the water are the larva of flies. In Scotland we call them Midges but they are something like mosquitoes.As your pond attracts these, it will also attract their predators like birds, tadpoles and other pond life that will quickly gobble them up and balance your pond again. Your water will clear when your pond settles and balances.
Keeping Your Mini Garden Pond Safe ?
A mini pond in a container is a good idea for families as its a lot safer then a larger pond but supervision of children near the pond is still a must.
Even though a raised or container pond is a lot easier to monitor, there are a few other ways to ensure children’s safety.
- Position your pond where it can be seen from your house.
- Give your pond gently sloping sides so anything or anyone who falls in can get out.
- You could fence off the areas kids can’t get to the pond or use pond grills that sit under the water and stop anything falling in.
- Grow plants around the edges so children aren’t tempted to go to close.