Management through the Seasons
The pond seasons: new information and advice based on the results of our Big Pond Dip project
- Frogspawn is normally laid in February or March
- Newts (Smooth, Palmate or, for the very lucky few Great Crested) and Common Toads laying eggs from April onwards
- On warmer days backswimmers, water beetles, pond skaters and lesser water boatmen will be flying to the pond
- Shrimps, water slaters, pond snails and other animals start to breed as water warms up; Pond Olive mayflies begin to emerge
- Brightly coloured yellow and black hoverflies will visit the pond: their rat-tailed larvae which live in the water are the ultimate ugly ducklings!
- Marginal and underwater plants start to grow.
- Plants added to the pond at this time of the year will grow quickly; plant them in nutrient poor sand and gravel to avoid adding nutrients to the pond or simply throw them in and let them take their chance!
- Plant thinning/dividing: you can trim back plants to keep things tidy but for wildlife don’t get too carried away: generally the more cover there is the better
- Control non-native plants: carefully remove and compost any non-native plants you want to get rid of – but remember they may be the only animal habitat in the pond
- Damselflies start to emerge: the Large Red comes first in May, followed by the blues – the Common, Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies are all likely in the garden
- Frog tadpoles growing and leaving the pond; adult frogs will be lurking in the cool water all summer
- Alderflies - a dark brown moth like fly, often very tame - visit the pond to lay eggs on rushes and reeds in May. Their larvae drop into the water to grow over the summer and winter
- Pipistrelle bats may be hunting over larger garden ponds
- Dragonflies start to emerge in June
- Adult damselflies and dragonflies lay eggs all summer – the Common Darter could still be egg-laying in September
- Caddis flies skim over the water at dusk in mating swarms.
- If you’ve got broad shallow margins, let water levels fall during the warm weather: the ‘drawdown’ zone is the richest area of any pond and tadpoles love warm shallow water. If you want to top up, remember to use rain water
- Skim off unwanted duckweed: carefully removing plants should help reduce nutrient levels as long as you don’t leave the plants to rot on the edge of the pond
- Plant thinning can be done in the summer
- Control non-native plants if they’re not providing essential cover for animal life – remember to dispose of the plants carefully.
- Smaller animals have finished egg-laying: tiny larvae are getting ready for winter
- Frog and newt tadpoles may over-winter
- Plants begin to die back.
- Pond cleaning and clearing: gently remove some leaf litter but remember it can be a good habitat and food source for smaller animals
- Remove non-native and other unwanted plants by hand, and dispose of responsibly (on the compost heap)
- To save animals, wash plants in a tub of water (putting the plants on the bank traps animals in the rotting vegetation)
- Avoid leaving plants on the banks near the pond: the nutrients locked up in the plants will drain back into the pond.
- Under the water, life goes on even in the coldest weather with the larvae of mayflies, dragonflies, caddis flies and water beetles all over-wintering under the ice
- Most plants won’t be growing, unless you’re lucky enough to have winter-green stoneworts or mosses.
If you have fish it’s worth running the pump or fountain in cold weather to keep oxygen levels up. This may help amphibians too A hole in the ice probably won’t make any difference to the oxygen level in the pond but it may help air breathing creatures which can swim to the surface for air (such as Smooth Newts). It’ll also give the birds somewhere to drink. Over-wintering frogs are happy completely submerged under the ice as long as there is some oxygen in the water In really hard weather, and if it’s safe, brush snow from the ice to let light into the pond.
- In freezing weather try to keep the pond well-oxygenated: this is easiest if the plenty of underwater plants and light can get into the pond