Keeping Your Pond Alive

The water in your garden pond is very sensitive to change. Depending on a number of factors, a pond can soon go from crystal clear to pea soup without any apparent explanation. You will quickly learn that pond pollutants can hide in the clearest water.

frog in a pond


An easy first step to ensuring a healthy pond environment is the use of a good filter and you should contact a specialist retailer, like Swell UK, who can advise you on the best solution. Biological filters will break down harmful toxins, like ammonia from fish waste, so they can be either removed or absorbed by the plant life in your pond. A UV filter will also help keep green water and algae at bay and keep down the levels of bacteria that could be harmful to the life in your pond.

A good water balance

High nitrate or pH levels in your pond can bring about the most common pond problem: algae. Algae can cause havoc in ponds, keeping light and oxygen from the plants and animals that need them. Regular testing should be carried out to keep on top of the environment in the water before an algae problem breaks out. You can pick up kits for any potential problem from online stores like Swell UK. These give you the all important heads-up you need to take action.

A key part of maintaining the right water balance is ensuring you use a good liner that will not only resist damage but ensure any outside nitrate sources, like fertilizer, are prevented from seeping through.


Oxygen plays a vital role in ensuring the good health of your pond. Without oxygen, certain bacteria found towards the bottom of ponds will begin to produce acids and toxins that will harm the fish, insects and helpful bacteria that may live in your pond. By planting particular oxygenating plants, you can create a natural balance of oxygen levels, but only during the day. By making use of an air pump or any water feature that will disturb the water surface, you can maintain a good oxygen level throughout the day, protecting the well being of your pond.


Attracting Newts to Your Pond

Encouraging newts to your garden pond will add life and color that can be seen for much of the year. You should never remove them from the wild but there are a few steps you can take to invite them to take up residence in your pond.

Newts not only add life to the pond, they also eat algae. So they provide a natural solution to a common problem. As they are most active during the warmer months of the year, when algae is rifer, they can be a real help. Of course other natural remedies such as Barley Straw will help too.

The best way to invite newts into your garden is to create the ideal habitat. A natural pond without fish is the best environment, as they will eat newt eggs and spawn.

baby newt

Build a loose rockery around or near the pond. This will provide them with shelter to live and breed. The cool, damp, atmosphere is ideal for newts, and will encourage slugs and insects, a good food source. If you want to feed the newts, then you can add bloodworm, daphnia or brine shrimp to the water, a good retailer will have a wide range of pond foods.

Adding plants such as water mint or water forget-me-nots are small but have wide leaves which are perfect for newts to lay and hide their eggs in. Reed plants are also great to promote natural behaviors. The eggs have a jelly like texture, which newts wrap up in leaves to protect them.

Newts are most active from March/April, and you should see babies appear from June to August. From then on, you will notice that they start to disappear, as they mostly hibernate throughout the winter, until around February. During this time, try not to rearrange the rockery or do too much work around the area, as this will disturb the newts.

Children will no doubt be very interested in the new addition to your pond, and it’s a great way to promote a love of nature. However always supervise your children around these slippery creatures, and ensure that if they do pick a newt up, that they do so very gently and with wet hands. Don’t allow the newts to be taken away from the area, or held for more than a few minutes.

You may find that not only newts arrive, but that frogs and toads appear too. As they thrive in similar environments. They can live well together and create a beautifully natural area of wildlife in your garden.

Newt in garden

Don’t worry if newts don’t start to arrive, despite the lovely home you have created. It may take time for them to appear and breed. If your local environment has changed, such as new roads, building sites etc., this may affect the migration of newts too. Leaving the pond and its inhabitants to its own devices will encourage the most natural behaviors and results.


Create a backyard frog pond

Frogs lead double lives. They begin their lives as fish-like tadpoles, breathing with gills as they swim underwater, then metamorphose into their adult form, hopping onto land and breathing with lungs. As adult frogs, they have strong ties to water and most need to remain near water to keep their bodies moist.

So what does this have to do with you? In the past twenty years, habitat loss has been one of the main reasons for the decline in frog populations in the US. The housing boom, in particular, destroyed large areas of natural habitat for wildlife.

It is possible to help out your neighborhood amphibians by creating a frog pond in your backyard. As I am not particularly handy with home projects, I searched the web trying to find an explanation of how to do this that didn’t seem impossible. The best directions I found were on the Loudoun (VA) Wildlife Conservancy site. Although I’m not planning to dig a frog pond in my city backyard, I could imagine following these directions and making this type of pond if I had a large backyard in a more rural area.

Some key points:

  • Be patient. If you build it, the frogs will come…ie, don’t stock the pond with pet store frogs or remove frogs from the wild and relocate them to your pond–that could make matters worse. Non-native species can wreak havoc on local ecosystems. Even native frogs could carry diseases that could cause death in local wild frogs. Just create a good environment for frogs and eventually they might appear.
  • The pond should have sloped sides so that the froglets can emerge from the pond when they are are ready.
  • Plant native plants and include lily pads etc (there are lots of water gardening catalogs).
  • Obviously if you have young children in the area, keep the pond fenced off to prevent accidents.
  • Don’t stock the pond with fish–they’ll eat the tadpoles.
Photo by Laura Regnier (courtesy of savethefrogs.com)

Photo by Laura Regnier (courtesy of www.savethefrogs.com)