Natural wetlands have been disappearing from the British countryside at an alarming rate over the last fifty years or so, which makes it hardly surprising that garden ponds have become increasingly important as refuges for so much of our aquatic wildlife.
Some of our native species, such as frogs for instance, can make use of just about any kind of pond, while others are rather more demanding in their needs. Whether you’ve built your own pond from scratch, or inherited it from a previous owner, the features it contains and its relationship with your garden as a whole can be a make-or-break issue for some creatures. So if you’ve ever wondered just how wildlife friendly your pond is, here’s a quick and simple quiz to help you find out.
It’s principally a bit of fun, of course, but the quiz should still help give you an insight into the wants, needs and desires of some of the flora and fauna that are looking to be guests in your pond – invited or not!
1. Which description best matches your garden in general?
- a) A haven for wildlife.
- b) Mostly flower borders.
- c) A fairly typical mix of shrubs, lawn and flowers.
- d) Mostly patio/decking/hard landscaping.
2. How does your pond fit into the landscape?
- a) A natural-looking seamless transition.
- b) It forms part of the lawn edge.
- c) It’s backed by shrubs and a bog garden.
- d) It’s a distinct feature all of its own.
3. How is it planted?
- a) The planting is left to nature.
- b) For floral interest – lilies and the like.
- c) For interest, but with a leaning to native species.
- d) Specially chosen architectural or specimen plants.
4. What sort of creature are you most likely to see in it?
- a) All sorts of things; frogs, dragonflies you name it!
- b) Goldfish, or perhaps a water snail or two.
- c) Tadpoles or water boatmen.
- d) Nothing / my own koi carp.
5. How would you describe its construction?
- a) A liner, with gently sloping sides.
- b) I’m not sure what it’s made of.
- c) Preformed, with planting shelves.
- d) Straight sided, made from concrete or in a barrel/container.
6. How much of the pond surface is covered by plants?
- a) More than half.
- b) Less than half.
- c) About half.
- d) None / very little.
7. How would describe the area around the pond?
- a) Log piles, low shrubs, long grass – pretty wild.
- b) Low mown grass.
- c) Shrubs, a rockery and a bog garden.
- d) Hard landscaping.
8.What’s your approach to fertilisers and pesticides around your pond?
- a) Never use any kind of chemicals anywhere in the garden.
- b) Use them as necessary, but take appropriate precautions.
- c) Never use chemicals near the pond or wildlife corner.
- d) It’s never been an issue around my pond.
9. What do you see as the PRIMARY purpose of your pond?
- a) A wildlife feature
- b) A fish pond
- c) An educational resource
- d) An architectural feature
10. Finally, are there any nest boxes, insect homes or similar features in the rest of your garden?
- a) Oh yes – there isn’t a wildlife box we don’t have!
- b) A couple of nest boxes.
- c) A variety of nest boxes and a couple of bee logs.
- d) No, not really.
Mostly (a)s & (c)s
Your pond is a real home-from-home for native wildlife. Whether you deliberately set out to make it that way, or it just happened naturally, you’d be hard pushed to do more to encourage British species to set up home. One thing’s for sure, you shouldn’t have any problems watching wildlife this summer!
There are some valuable features in your pond, but wildlife isn’t the total focus. If you’ve inherited it from a previous owner – or changed the way you want to use it – and now hope to make it more wildlife-friendly, you have a good starting point to work from, so a few simple changes should see you well on the way. On the other hand, if you’re more than happy to have wildlife sharing your garden, but other aspects of pond-keeping appeal too, it sounds like you’ve already arrived at the ideal personal compromise.
It seems that wildlife isn’t your pond’s current priority – but then nobody said it had to be! After all, there are plenty of other reasons for having a pond beside providing a home for the local frog population. It is, of course, inevitable that one or two native species will wander in and if that does eventually inspire you to try to encourage others, there are few ponds that can’t be made more wildlife-friendly if that’s what you ever want to do.
However wildlife-friendly yours is – or isn’t – enjoy your pond!