Wild About Ponds

Wildlife pond at Centre for Wildlife Gardening credit Ella Cox

Our Keeping it Wild Project Trainee Dexter provides some tips on how to get started with your very own wildlife pond, no matter how little space you may have.

During my Keeping it Wild Traineeship, I’ve been so heartened to discover all the things that London Wildlife Trust and its supporters are doing to protect and promote wildlife in the city. In terms of what we can do as Londoners to enhance biodiversity, ponds seem to yield maximum rewards for minimal effort.

As a budding wildlife gardener myself, I'll be making my own mini-pond over the summer and in researching my own project, I hope to be able to provide you with some useful tips in this step-by-step guide.

It can seem like a daunting challenge to provide an effective haven if you have a small space. But research has shown that even tiny ponds can contribute toward biodiversity on a regional scale, they act as stepping stones and allow species to move through the landscape. In the urban setting, where there can be many barriers to wildlife, this is crucial. 

Here's my advice to get started: 

1. Select a container

You can basically use anything! This is a great opportunity for upcycling, look for containers that are roughly 30cm deep and watertight (or you can make it watertight with a small piece of pond liner). Choose a spot for your container that gets a good amount of light and think about how creature will be able to get in and out of it. One option is to dig your container into the ground and provide access levels in and out, or you can build a ramp.

2. Fill it up

Prepare your vessel using some gravel on the bottom and then use rocks or logs to create a range of depths. Finally, allow your pond to fill with rain water. Tap water should be avoided as it contains chemicals which may not be conducive to pond life.

3. Choose some plants

For a mini-pond, it makes sense to stick to one submerged plant and then you can gradually build up the surrounding area with other freshwater plants. Marsh-marigold/Kingcup is a great submerged plant choice, it provides cover for amphibians and an early nectar source for insects. A personal favourite of mine is the yellow iris with its sword shaped leaves and fleur-de-lis like flowers. Beware, it has invasive tendencies and can take over even a small pond so planting it in a separate basket can make it easier to control. Great things to plant around your pond margin are watermint, brooklime and purple loosestrife.

Keeping it Wild Trainees & Forum

Young people on the Keeping it Wild programme credit Penny Dixie

About Keeping it Wild

This is a new project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, that will empower and inspire 600 young people aged 11-25, from backgrounds currently under-represented in natural heritage, to gain vital skills while discovering, conserving and sharing their experiences of the capital’s wild spaces. 16-25-year-olds are invited to apply for a 12 week Traineeship, paid via a bursary. They are based at one of our reserves, where they spend time learning from the London Wildlife Trust team, gaining valuable practical skills in urban nature conservation. Additional support for the Traineeships has been generously donated by the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers.

Find out more about the project