Help & advice Gardens & ponds Helping amphibians There are steps the individual garden-owner can take to make a garden favourable to amphibians but to exploit the full potential of wildlife gardening requires more people doing it. The single most beneficial activity for amphibians is to create a wildlife pond: Create a pond with gently sloping sides Allow vegetation cover to develop around the pond’s edges Take care in sourcing pond plants Do not stock with fish Create a pond with gently sloping sides Many preformed ponds have steep sides. Using a pond liner gives the flexibility to create the desired pond profile. Take care in sourcing pond plants Although allowing natural colonisation by plants is recommended practice for ponds in natural (or semi-natural) environments, garden pond owners are likely to want more instant vegetation. Care should be taken in sourcing plants for garden ponds. Invasive non-native plants are found in many garden ponds so care should be taken to identify potential donations from a neighbour. Native pond plants can be obtained from garden centres or can be taken from nearby ‘natural’ ponds with the landowner’s permission. Allow vegetation cover to develop around the pond’s edges Extensive paved areas around a pond should be avoided. Instead, aquatic and terrestrial vegetation should be allowed to develop around the pond edges to provide damp cover for young amphibians leaving the water Do not stock with fish Fish can be significant predators of some amphibian tadpoles and other pond dwellers. Goldfish seem to be particularly harmful to newts. Pond weeds may provide tadpoles with some refuge from fish predation. Fish may be beneficial to common toads but generally, fish should not be stocked in garden ponds for amphibians. The remainder of the garden should be managed to provide refuges for amphibians and habitat for their invertebrate prey. In general dense vegetation should suit amphibians. Additional steps may also help: Allow grass to grow into ‘meadows’. Create a compost heap. Create a log pile. Allow grass to grow into ‘meadows’ Closely-mown lawns are poor habitat for amphibians and their invertebrate prey. Allowing areas of grass to develop as meadows provides habitat for amphibians and their prey. Meadows should be cut during winter and cuttings raked up and placed on a compost heap. Create a compost heap Compost heaps provide habitat piles for amphibians and invertebrate prey. Open heaps are better than enclosed bins. Create a log pile Stacking logs or other woody cuttings is another way of creating a habitat feature that may be useful to amphibians. As wood ages and decomposes it holds more moisture and offers an increasingly favourable habitat. Amphibians prefer to shelter in small spaces rather than large cavities, so packing some of the spaces in a log pile with loose soil or wood chippings should improve its value.