Native Wildlife Ponds

Native Return® always includes a beach for easy access and exit

Native Return® always includes a beach. Marsh marigolds brighten springtime in the larger wildlife pond.

It is spring and a young man’s thoughts turn to…ponds, right? Well, this young man’s did. On the Native Return® property, Christina has two wildlife ponds, one smaller and one larger. The smaller one sits smack dab in the center of the tortoise enclosure for her African Leopard tortoise, Baby.

Baby, an exotic ornamental, purchased in a weak moment as a hatchling

Baby, an exotic ornamental, purchased in a weak moment as a hatchling

It is her swimming hole when the temperatures rise, as well as a watering hole for the variety of  native songbirds, frogs, turtles, and snakes the property attracts.

Baby's pond

Baby’s pond

The larger one is off to the side of the house, with a tumbling waterfall, a profusion of native aquatic plants, and a multitude of – again – frogs, snakes and turtles. The frogs include big ones, little tadpoles, and in between sized ones…on a warm evening, their chorus is quite soothing after a hectic day. Species include American toad, green frog and pickerel frog, although the green frogs are the majority.

Green Frog with Lysimachia terrestris  Swamp Candles about to bloom at Native Return® wildlife pond

Green Frog with Lysimachia terrestris Swamp Candles about to bloom in the Native Return® wildlife pond

As her ponds are meant for wildlife, they don’t get covered in the fall, so come spring, there’s an abundance of decaying leaves and other detritus that needs to be mucked out. And I mean, MUCK! Ponds can become anaerobic with that much decaying matter, so as necessary they are drained with a filtered siphon, cleaned, and then refilled.

A trickle is all you need for wildlife

A trickle is all you need for wildlife

Between our two helpers and myself, we unloaded about 7 wheelbarrow loads of leaves and such from the larger pond. But those of you preparing to do this yourself this season, do it gently! In the course of the afternoon, we rescued nearly 100 tadpoles from the leaves, to be reintroduced to the pond once it was refilled. In years past, Christina has also found baby snapping turtles along with the tadpoles in the leaves at the bottom, so one must be extremely careful when cleaning. Soft nets to dredge the leaves up are recommended, as well as a large bucket with pond water in it to transfer any rescued amphibians and reptiles, as well as the larval form of insects including dragonflies. Garter snakes live amongst the rocks surrounding the ponds, so be careful to protect them as necessary too.

Then, fire up the pump for the waterfall, pour a lemonade, and sit back and listen to nature’s symphony!

Written by Timothy Martz, Native Return®

Note from Christina Kobland — These ponds bring me immense enjoyment. I was warned when I put them in that I’d live to regret it, but I never did. I would have done the installation a bit differently, but never did I anticipate the abundance of wildlife drawn to them. As with my wildlife gardens, you never know what’s around the corner. Last year mallards came every evening to feed and cavort. Great blue herons breeze in for a frog. Orchard orioles can’t get enough of the waterfall bathing. Snakes swim through the all native aquatic plants and snapping turtles come and go. And of course deer, turkey, fox, raccoons, opossum and many other visitors wade in at the beach area for a cool fresh drink. Am I lucky or what? No reason to leave home when there is so much to see here.

© 2013, Christina Kobland. All rights reserved. This article is the property of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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  1. Donna@Gardens Eye View says

    I agree Christina my pond is a critter magnet and a source of enjoyment and peace…ours is a medium size and we clean it every spring as it is covered in snow and ice….but we have never had to take the water out….I have never regretted having the pond and waterfall.
    Donna@Gardens Eye View recently posted..Wildflower Tale-Shooting Stars

    • Christina Kobland says

      When life gets too much, I pond watch:)
      Christina Kobland recently posted..2013 Philadelphia Flower Show

  2. Carole Sevilla Brown says

    My pond has been an endless source of enjoyment for me. Who needs tv when I can sit out there for hours watching all of the exciting happenings there! Sadly, my neighbor’s invasive Norway Maples have grown up so much that my pond is now completely shaded, and not used by as much wildlife as before. I’m especially bummed that I don’t have Dragonflies any more. This year I think I’ll fill in the pond and create a bog garden instead.
    Carole Sevilla Brown recently posted..Ultimate Guides to a Spectacular Wildlife Garden

  3. Christina Kobland says

    Bog gardens are cool too. Wildlife love water in any form.
    Christina Kobland recently posted..2013 Philadelphia Flower Show

  4. Hal Mann says

    Hey Christina,

    This is wonderful info and makes me want to put a small pond in even though we are mostly shade. I love you comment “When life gets too much, I pond watch”. Curious when you said there are a few things you’d do differently if you had to do it over again. What things?

    Thanks and keep up the inspirational writing.

    Hal Mann recently posted..Duh!

  5. Christina Kobland says

    Hi Hal,

    What I would do differently:
    1) I thought I had clearly conveyed to the contractor that I wanted a trickle waterfall, and instead I ended up with enough boulders to support Niagara Falls (overkill for my 10 by 13 ft, 21 inch deep pond)
    2) I would have made it a bit larger and deeper

    I just love my pond. I look out onto it from my office. Right now towhees are bathing (in the trickling waterfall, which is critical to its success)
    Christina Kobland recently posted..Captive Elephants Successfully Reintroduced into the Wild


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