10 ways to be good to your pond this summer

1. Let your pond level fluctuate with the weather
If possible it's best to let the water level in your pond fluctuate as the weather dictates. In a hot spell the level can drop alarmingly, but as long as there’s a deeper area that holds water all year, little harm will come to the wildlife in it. But if you can’t live with the sight of a drying pond, only use rainwater to fill your pond. The easiest way of being able to do this is to…

2. Install a water butt
Water butts really come in to their own in the summer months. They can fill up quickly from summer storms and make water available through dry spells. Filling a watering can by dunking it in a water butt is also much quicker than waiting at the tap! If you’re lucky with the levels in your garden, you can even use flexible pipe so that your water butt overflow ends up topping your pond – this way you’re unlikely to ever need to do it by hand.

3. Clear blanket weed by hand if it gets out of hand
Blanket weed and duckweed are the biggest bugbears of pond owners at this time of year. If either gets out of control, gently remove it by hand or using a stick or rake, but leave it to dry out on the edge of the pond so that the creatures that live in the plants can crawl back in.

4. Keep maintenance and disturbance to a minimum
Beyond the tips above, summer is a time to leave your pond and its wildlife in peace. But the following won’t do any harm…

5. Look at your pond at night!
Use a torch to see peer into your pond at night; you might be surprised at what creatures come out when the sun goes down. But take care not to fall in!

6. Look for dragonfly exuviae
Exuviae are the dried up ‘skins’ of dragonfly larvae that have emerged from your pond and metamorphosised into adult dragonflies. It’s a sure-fire way of knowing that dragonflies have bred successfully in your pond.

7. Pond dip
The occasional dip with a net into the pond won’t cause much harm, but try not to disturb the sediment, which will release nutrients into the pond, encouraging blanket weed growth. Empty the net into an old (but clean) washing up bowl or similar filled with an inch of water and see what life appears… and tip it all back in afterwards.

8. Collect seed from plants to raise new ones
If you need to expand your planting, there’s no better way of knowing where your plants have come from than raising them yourself!

9. Keep a record of what comes to your pond
You’ll be surprised how much wildlife is attracted to your pond. Watching what appears can also be a nice study of how and why animals disperse. Ponds, whether natural or man-made, are transient and often isolated habitats and many animals are well adapted to seeking them out.

10. Complete WWT’s Wetlands in My Backyard survey
The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust is running a survey to discover the true state of our nation’s pond and backyard wetlands for wildlife. Complete the online survey at www.wwt.org.uk/wimby before the end of August. If you think your garden pond is the best, fill in your details on the survey and you could win a £1,000 Marsh Award for Conservation.. The best garden wildlife ponds will be shortlisted and during the summer the judging panel, including Countryfile Magazine Editor Cavan Scott will be out and about to visit the shortlisted entries. The winner will be announced in the autumn.



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