Looking after your winter pond

Looking after your winter pond

Original Farm Pond, Haregill Lodge Farm, Ellingstring, North Yorkshire - Paul Harris/2020VISION

Winter is an ideal time to carry out any pond maintenance ready for next spring. Here are our top tips on what to do and how to do it to minimise wildlife disturbance and maximise habitat creation:

1) Try not to cut any long vegetation around the pond until early spring when the newts are beginning to emerge.

2) Trim any overhanging branches to maximise the amount of light, and minimise leaves falling into the water.

3) Remove any leaf litter, blanket weed and excess oxygenator plants. Make sure you rinse it out to remove any little critters!

Frozen garden pond full of frogspawn

Anna Williams

3) Don’t remove too much pond vegetation as this provides hiding places for all the creatures that use the pond, whether for the tadpoles of breeding amphibians in the spring or for small invertebrates that could be a tasty snack for dragonfly nymphs and beetle larvae.

4) Try not to remove too much soil from the base; this is another little habitat for smaller creatures and some frogs do like to hide in this spot over winter.

5) Vegetation should be left overnight to allow most things to crawl back into the water of their own accord, then compost them. Never be tempted to put them into a wild wetland habitat or give them to friend, even if they are native species. This is how disease, such as ranavirus, and non-native species spread.

Fox drinking water

Young red fox (Vulpes vulpes) drinking from a small pond, urban park, Bristol, winter. - Bertie Gregory/2020VISION

6) Work methodically, slowly moving around the pond edge, removing your excess vegetation as you go.  This approach will allow wildlife in the pond to move away from your activities.

7) Don't try to tackle the whole pond all at once. This promotes different niches in the vegetation and different levels of disturbance allowing a great range of biodiversity.

8) Create a buffer around the pond using logs dipping into the pond edge. These will provide a nice damp environment for small frogs and toads as they leave the water in summer. Long grass rather than lawn or flat paving, which can fry small frogs in the summer sun, will also make a safe refuge for many emerging creatures.