Looking After Wildlife Whilst Maintaining Your Pond

At this time of year you may be clearing leaves out that have collected at the bottom of your pond.

This is an important task as excessive leaf litter will release rich nutrients into the water as they decompose during the summer months. These nutrients and the bright summer sun can lead to ponds becoming quickly swamped with fast growing algae and blanket weed.

All the Small Things

When carrying out this task it’s a good idea to do so carefully checking as you go that any wildlife caught up in the leaves is returned to the water.

Here are some ideas to help you avoid casualties…

1. Stop and Look

One of the best things you can do is stop regularly and sort through the debris you have removed looking for movement. Anything you spot can then be carefully picked out and returned to your pond.

A damselfly nymph
A damselfly nymph could easily get pulled from the pond along with unwanted leaf litter.

2. Let Gravity do the Work

Another good tip is to use a large tub, old washing up bowl or other water holding receptacle and fill it with just an inch or two of pond water.

Cover this container with some form of rigid netting that has at least a centimetre wide mesh so that it is big enough to let pond life slip through. Chicken wire or a large gravel sieve would do the job.

Place the debris you have removed from your pond on top of the mesh and leave it for at least an hour or so. The idea is that any small crawling creatures will instinctively work their way down through the debris and fall through the bottom in to the water below.

All you have to do then is tip the water from the container, along with any escapees, back into your pond.

A freshwater pond slater
A freshwater pond slater will vigorously wriggle through a pile of extracted pond debris.

3. Last Chance Saloon

Whatever you do it is always a good idea to leave the debris you remove near the shores of your pond for a while before committing it to the compost heap. This at least gives any remaining wildlife a chance to crawl back to the safety of the pond.

Don’t be a too Tidy

As a closing thought bear in mind that you shouldn’t remove every single bit of debris from your pond. Wildlife likes it untidy and in the case of a pond a bit of decomposing leaf litter will provide vital food and shelter for the inhabitants of your pond.

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