Garden, Home and Garden

Wildlife Pond Ideas – Six Beautiful Examples

wildlife pond

wildlife pond

Disclosure: this  is a collaborative post.  All words and opinions are my own.  Thanks for supporting Moral Fibres!

One of the easiest ways to help our native wildlife, and to attract wildlife to your garden, is to build a wildlife pond.  Over 70% of natural ponds have been lost from the British countryside in the last 100 years or so, so constructing a simple wildlife pond can be of crucial importance to threatened species.

We have a tiny wildlife pond – a barrel pond, but it’s more a functional thing rather than a thing of beauty.  If you like your garden to look beautiful as well as benefiting wildlife then I’ve found six beautiful wildlife ponds, that, whatever your style, will help attract wildlife to your garden, and some tips on how to create your very own wildlife pond:

wildlife pond

By Gardenweb user Autumn

wildlife pond

Wikimedia Commons, by user Nowis

wildlife pond

By Gardenweb user joeyb5980

wildlife pond tips

By Bunny Mummy

wildlife pond

By HGTV user catnabarn

wildlife pond idea

By Gardenweb user mamasue

I love that you can create wildlife ponds out of anything, and you can design them to suit your garden and budget.  While I do like the architectural ponds, one of my favourite ones is in fact the one by mamasue.  I love that she’s used some kind of industrial container to create her pond!  I am also partial to the simple barrel pond and the no nonsense garden pond by Bunny Mummy.

Some Tips to Consider for Creating a Wildlife Pond

Try not to site your pond in full shade – wildlife prefer partial shade, and too much sunlight can cause an algal bloom which can deprive your pond of oxygen.

Autumn or winter are good times to dig and build your pond, if you’re not going down the barrel pond route.  Late Spring is the best time to plant it, when the water starts to warm up.

Avoid planting species not native to the UK.  If you’re unsure what to plant then there are lots of specialist nurseries around the UK that can supply native aquatic plants.  Do a web search to find a specialist nursery near you, or you can order plants online dependent on what’s in season.

If your pond develops a stagnant odour then it’s probably lacking in oxygen.  Try either planting some more plants in your pond or introducing a pump to get a flow of water.  Swell UK have a great range of pond pumps suitable for wildlife ponds of all sizes to help combat this problem.

Avoid introducing ornamental fish to your pond, such as Goldfish, Koi Carp, Tench, or Orfe, as they  are likely to eat the very wildlife you’d be looking to thrive in your pond.

With barrel ponds it’s crucial to create a way out for wildlife that may have found a way in.  Building up some earth on one side, or placing some rocks in there can really help animals to get out easily.

If you’re digging a pond, ideally you want one side of the pond to have a long shallow slope.  In the summer, when water levels can drop, this creates a vital habitat for insects such as beetles.  It also allows easy access and escape for frogs and toads, and other types of wildlife.

I think I’ve covered the main points, but there are so many tips out there for creating ponds!  Do you have any tips I’ve missed that you want to add to this list?

Frog image copyright Peter Trimming and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Garden, Home and Garden

Green Gardening Tips – Peat Free Compost

green gardening tips

green gardening tips

Spring is well and truly here – we had a beautifully sunny Easter weekend and I got my hands dirty in the garden for the first time this year.  As I was digging I had a great idea of starting a new occasional series of green gardening tips and ideas on Moral Fibres, much like my occasional energy saving tips and food waste tips.  Of course, gardening is green by it’s very nature, but some gardening practices are less than planet friendly.    So, now and again I’ll be sharing some easy eco-friendly green gardening tips to make your garden or allotment as green as can be.

My first of my green gardening tips is close to my heart.  I’d arguably say it’s the most important green gardening tip, but that’s just me:

peat free compost

Choose peat-free compost.

You may be wondering what the big deal is about peat.  Peat forms from semi-decomposed plant material, in waterlogged oxygen-poor bogs at about a rate of 1mm a year.  Peat bogs are unique habitats, home to all sorts of rare plants, animals and invertebrates that you seldom find outside of peat bogs.  And the other completely amazing thing about peat bogs is that they act as carbon sinks – capturing all the carbon that plants absorb while they grow.

Peat was rarely used in gardening until the mid 20th century.  It has no nutritional benefit to soil, but at this time it was discovered that it holds water, oxygen and nutrients well, making it a good medium for growing plants and vegetables in.  It’s usage reached it’s peak in 1997, when a staggering 99% of the compost sold in the UK contained peat.

To meet demand from gardeners, acres upon acres of peat bogs across the UK have been drained and dug up.  As peat bogs form at such a slow rate, this rate of extraction is completely unsustainable, meaning that peat bogs are now one of the most threatened landscapes in the UK.  This loss of our peat bogs has two main impacts.  Firstly, peat extraction releases carbon into the atmosphere – contributing to climate change.  Apparently the carbon released from peat extraction is equivalent to the carbon emissions of 100,000 households a year.  Secondly, extracting peat destroys the home of the rare flora and fauna associated with the bogs – we’ve lost 94% of the UK’s lowland peat bogs, and now we’re importing peat from the Baltic states, Ireland and Finland, adding to it’s already colossal carbon footprint.

Another indirect impact of the loss of peat-bogs is the increase in flooding.  Peat bogs can hold up to 20 times their weight in water – their sponge like quality means they rapidly absorb any torrential rainfall and slowly release it afterwards.  Remove the peat bogs and you remove this fantastic natural flood defence.

Using peat-free compost sounds like a total no-brainer, right?  You’d think so, but whilst sales of peat-free and reduced peat compost are on the rise, gardeners still account for the highest use of peat in the UK.  And just two months ago Which? Magazine told it’s readers not to bother with peat-free compost varieties.    Yet there plenty of feasible alternatives to peat compost out there.

Where can you buy peat-free compost?  

We used to buy ours from our local Co-Op, but for some inexplicable reason this year they started selling only 80% peat free compost, which is 20% too much peat if you ask me.  The best thing to do is have a look at your local garden centre to see what they have.  Do take care: some compost bags may be labelled as “eco-friendly” but unless it’s specifically labelled as peat free then you might be surprised to know that even these “eco-friendly” bags could contain as much as 70 to 100% peat.  Also, be prepared: although the environmental costs are high, peaty compost is normally the cheapest compost you can buy.  Peat-free compost is normally more expensive as it has to be processed a bit more.

If your local garden centre doesn’t stock any tell them that you’d like them to stock 100%  peat-free compost.  If they won’t order any in then online brands selling 100% peat free soil include Carbon Gold and Earth Cycle.  I’ve also found this article to be incredibly helpful.

Some people say they don’t like using peat-free compost as it doesn’t give them the yield that they’re looking for.  To be honest we’ve noticed no difference in what we grow.

If you don’t want to fork out (pun intended!) for the peat-free compost, then you could try home-made compost, bark, coir, or wood waste.  Alternatively you could buy a bag of peat-free compost and make it go further by mixing it with some home-made compost or coir.

Look out for more green gardening tips coming soon!  Any green gardening tips you want to share?  Do so in the comments below!


Images: 1. Carley Jane / 2. Wikimedia Commons