Adding wa­ter to a gar­den helps na­ture

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - Mark Cullen is lawn & gar­den ex­pert for Home Hard­ware, mem­ber of the Order of Canada, au­thor and broad­caster. Get his free monthly news­let­ter at markcullen. com. Look for his new best seller, ‘The New Cana­dian Gar­den’ pub­lished by Dun­durn Press. Fol­low hi

Adding a fish pond to your gar­den is an ex­cel­lent way to help the en­vi­ron­ment and at­tract ben­e­fi­cial crea­tures.

Are you a mod­ern gar­dener? One who plants and nur­tures your own gar­den space with an eye to en­hanc­ing the bio­di­ver­sity in your com­mu­nity? It has taken a few gen­er­a­tions, but now we are at a point where we have torn up our prop­erty deed, fig­u­ra­tively, and re­placed it with a con­scious­ness of the im­pact our out­door ac­tiv­ity has on na­ture, up and down the street.

If one of your gar­den goals is to max­i­mize the at­trac­tion of ben­e­fi­cial in­sects, song­birds, but­ter­flies and hum­ming­birds: wel­come.

The most im­pact­ful ad­di­tion you can make to your gar­den is to add still wa­ter. A half-bar­rel, a pond or any small con­tainer filled with wa­ter and ‘man­aged’ will at­tract am­phib­ians, drag­on­flies and many more help­ful crit­ters in the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. Here are some top tips for still wa­ter fea­tures in the gar­den:

Am­phib­ians. When you are suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing frogs, toads and sala­man­ders to your wa­ter gar­den, you have achieved a very spe­cial level of suc­cess. These crea­tures breathe through their skin and as such are very sen­si­tive to en­vi­ron­men­tal changes and pol­lu­tion. Pro­vide habi­tat by plac­ing wa­ter plants in your H2O gar­den.

Lo­cate your wa­ter fea­ture in part sun. Ide­ally about 60% of the sur­face of the wa­ter should be shaded. You can pro­vide shade us­ing a nearby shade tree, wa­ter plants that float and by plant­ing broad leaved wa­ter lilies that pro­duce leaves up to the sur­face of the wa­ter.

Avoid mos­qui­toes. The ob­jec­tion that I hear most, where wa­ter fea­tures are con­cerned, is ‘I don’t want to en­cour­age mos­qui­toes’. Just put some gold fish or koi carp in your pond. I have a 10 me­ter X 10 me­ter pond and I have about 30 small fish that do the job very nicely. You can have too many fish though, as they create a car­bon-rich en­vi­ron­ment that en­cour­ages al­gae growth.

But­ter­flies and drag­on­flies love ponds. Es­pe­cially where wa­ter lilies and other broadleaved plants sit on the sur­face of the wa­ter. These fly­ing in­sects do not use bird baths to ei­ther drink from or bathe. They are both ‘top heavy’ and pre­fer to drink from wa­ter droplets on the sur­face of wa­ter plants or in mud, which can oc­cur at the mar­gin of your pond. Note that dragonfly nymphs live in still wa­ter for up to 4 years be­fore they ma­ture into fly­ing adults. An­other good rea­son not to clean your pond too thor­oughly each spring.

Marginals. The plants that you es­tab­lish around your pond are as im­por­tant as the ones that you place in it. They pro­vide cover for egg lay­ing and dry­ing post for emerg­ing dragon flies. Con­sider na­tive marsh marigolds, wa­ter iris, tall wa­ter for­get-me-nots, hi­bis­cus and Joe Pye Weed (a but­ter­fly mag­net).


Adding a fish pond like this one to your gar­den is a good way to help the en­vi­ron­ment and at­tract ben­e­fi­cial crea­tures.

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