Building a mini pond is a really simple but effective way of encouraging frogs, and other amphibians, to breed in your garden. Whether you already have a pond or not this mini project is well worth the couple of hours it should take to complete. It involves minimal digging and can be easily relocated, expanded or developed further in the future. Watching the development of frogspawn is absolutely fascinating for adults and children alike. It is a great way to enthuse children and teach them about frogs. So let’s getting cracking!
Ponds are naturally a highly dynamic and variable habitat offering homes for a huge variety of creatures just waiting to move in. Even a water butt for collecting rainwater will soon be colonised by a surprising variety of life. You can’t have too many ponds! Having a separate breeding pond will offer the following advantages;
- it can be placed in the warmest part of the garden where it will catch the early spring sunshine.
- it can be isolated from fish that may well eat the frogspawn
- the development of the spawn can be more easily observed.
When do frogs spawn.
Frogs spend much of the winter hidden under stones and logs, in damp compost heaps or at the bottom of a pond. In early spring frogs will emerge from their overwintering sites and seek out ponds in search of a mate. Males usually arrive first and competition for a mate is often very high. The actual date that spawning occurs can vary widely and is primarily dependent upon weather, more particularly, the temperature. In my own garden in Suffolk breeding activity peaks around late February through March.
|A||2||mini pond end||225mm x 38mm||100cm||scaffold boards|
|B||3||mini pond sides||225mm x 38mm||190cm||scaffold boards|
|C||12||timber flange screws||10cm|
|D||1||pond liner||2m x3m|
|E||2||deck support rails||50mm x 50mm||200cm|
|F||10||deck supports||50mm x 25mm||54cm|
|G||4||deck supports||50mm x 25mm||66cm|
|H||pond liner batten|
|J||50||galvanised clout nails||40mm|
All of the above are available from online building merchants.
- Carpenters square
- Garden rake
- Select a site, approx. 2.5m x 1.5m,in your garden that receives full spring sunshine
- Level the soil
- Place a layer of polythene down to act as a damp proof course to reduce decay of the timber edging.
- Cut one of the scaffold boards in half
- Fix the corners of the timber planks using the nail plates and galvanised nails.
- Place the pond liner inside the edging and fold into the corners.
- Place a 3-4cm layer of garden soil/pond silt/washed gravel on the bottom.
- Fill with water. Ideally use rainwater or water from an adjacent pond. Do NOT transfer water (or frogspawn) from another site as this could very easily transfer disease or invasive non-native plants. This is very important and should not be ignored.
- Use the batten to secure the pond liner to the top edge of the timber.
- Nail the 100mm x 50mm along the top edge of the timber.One on each edge and one down the centre.
- Nail 1m lengths of the batten at 25mm spacing along the length of the rails to form
- Stock with submerged water plants to cover approximately 30% of the mini pond. Hornwort would be and ideal choice.
Sit back and wait for the frogs to arrive.
As expected,with wildlife, results can be highly variable across sites and from one season to another. Results can be almost instantaneous as frogs are highly mobile and well capable of travelling several hundred metres. This is a great general feature of ponds- wildlife is constantly seeking them out.
A female frog will produce an awful lot of eggs – around 2,000 -as survival rates are naturally very low. It is estimated that only 5 out of every 1000 frog eggs survive to become adults. Finally if you don’t manage to attract any frogspawn don’t be despondent. Water is essential for all wildlife so lots of creatures will appreciate your efforts and make your mini pond their new home.
Frogspawn Care and what to feed tadpoles.
Frogspawn will hatch in around 2 -weeks dependent upon – you’ve guessed it-the temperature. Their surrounding jelly will take care of their initial food requirements. As they become free-swimming wrigglers they like nothing better than to ‘graze’ on the algae that seems to grow on everything in the pond. Slate and stones in full sunlight will prove excellent algal growth particularly if soil or pond silt was used to provide nutrients. The tadpoles will also find plenty of nooks and crannies to shelter and escape from predators.
As they grow a little bit bigger they will attack other aquatic invertebrates and zooplankton that naturally follows the springtime algal blooms. Water fleas are also a favourite. This is all part of the natural spring cycle in ones so no need to worry about any provisions. In other words there is no need to directly feed tadpoles with anything. This will help avoid pollution. Just sit back and watch their fascinating development.
After 2 – 4 months tadpoles will start to develop their back legs. This will shortly be followed by those at the front. At the height of summer the froglets will leave the ponds and disperse. Success! Autumn is spent feeding on slugs and other garden pets in preparation of the winter. Although frogs do not hibernate in the same way as a hedgehog the do stay largely dormant and only occassionally show any signs of activity.
Other important habitats.
As well as a pond there are two other habitats that you may well like to create that to further help our frogs. They are
- compost heaps
- log piles
These compliment ponds exceptionally well and help frogs to over winter by providing shelter and food.