- Author: Phyllis Molnar
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Phyllis Molnar UCCE Master Gardener
What is a wildlife pond? It is a freshwater environment created to support and encourage wildlife including beneficial insects. A true wildlife pond does not use a water pump for air and water circulation. Instead, there is an biotic/abiotic relationship that creates its own ecosystem. Biotic factors are living organisms within an ecosystem: plants, animals, and bacteria. Abiotic factors include non-living components: water, soil and atmosphere.
Your pond can be as simple as an old wash tub, repurposed sink, oak barrel or a water trough. Larger more intricate ponds are designed with a pond liner set into the ground.
The inside of a wildlife pond is made with a base of sand or soil with layers of rocks, stones and old tree branches providing essential access for animals to climb in and out of the pond. Water plants are submerged and floating with leaves flowers or stems partially or fully submerged providing food, shelter and nesting areas. Water plants also help to keep the water clean.
Plants, rocks and wood along the edge of the pond provide habitat for visitors. A backyard wildlife pond is not the best home for large koi or goldfish that will damage water plants and attract raccoons and other mammals. Mosquito fish and mosquito dunks in the pond are used to minimize mosquito development. Avoid using chemicals in or near wildlife ponds. Birds, bats, insects and other animals that use the wildlife pond as a source of fresh water can be harmed.
A well-developed pond will be a home to damselflies, dragonflies, frogs and other aquatic lifeforms. It's a joy to sit quietly and watch the activity around your wildlife pond, a wonderful and beautiful asset for your garden.