A water feature in the garden looks attractive and provides a cooling calming element in the landscape. A garden pond has the additional benefit of providing a watering point for birds and other animals and a habitat for frogs and aquatic invertebrates.
Photo: Craig Vertigan
A garden pond gives potential for planting a range of plants, from edge species requiring moisture-such as Cutting Grass Gahnia grandis, Melaleuca species and ferns (Blechnum species, Soft Treefern Dicksonia antarctica)-to wetland species and aquatic plants.
ush Baloskion tetraphyllum, Running Marshflower Villarisa reniformis and Nodding Clubsedge Isolepis cernua. Native aquatic species that provide good tadpole and water bug habitat include Greater Waterribbons Triglochin procerum.
Birds visiting your garden need a source of clean water to drink and bathe in. Although garden centres promote attractive pedestal and hanging birdbaths, many birds will not use these. For example plovers can't access elevated birdbaths, because of their long ungainly legs. A pond is the most useful birdbath, provided it has easy access and easy escape routes from lurking cats or other predators.
Many insects spend part of their life in an immature stage in the water. For example a dragonfly spends most of its life as an underwater nymph, preying on pond inhabitants such as mosquito larvae. The hatched adults are also very effective predators of mosquitoes and flies. Hovering dragonflies in summer in the garden provide the opportunity for ‘dragonfly watching', which can be as fascinating as bird watching!
A healthy garden pond stocked with waterlife provides a great educational resource for kids with a dip net by providing many examples of insect lifecycles and food webs. Be sure to return what you collect in the dip net back to the pond so that you can continue watching progress in growth and change in form.
A tip to stop drowning by frogs or other wildlife species in water containers (including watering cans or ponds) - keep a stick or other solid object, such as a rock, sticking out of the container so that they have a way of climbing back out safely.
The presence of frogs in your garden is a good sign of a healthy environment. They need water, but they also need plants, rocks or logs to hide in or under and insects and other invertebrates to feed on.
If you provide suitable habitat for frogs then they will come to you. It is best not to collect frogs or tadpoles from elsewhere.
Avoid using herbicides or pesticides as frogs are sensitive to these and will die or move away.
Illustration by Kris Schaffer