Animal-friendly pond | How do you get animals like a salamander and frog into the pond?
Simon van der Velde
Enrichment for your garden
A healthy pond brings life to the garden. It can be an enrichment for yourself, but certainly also for animal life. At all times of the day, there is something going on at a pond for animals. Dragonflies, Water striders and other insects fly around the water during the day, croaking frogs can be heard in the spring and who knows, maybe you'll attract a salamander to your pond. Make your garden as animal-friendly as possible and help biodiversity at the same time.
Animal-friendly marsh plants
What animals live in a pond?
Once you build a pond with sufficient and varied pond plants, you make your pond attractive to many animals and insects. All need water and you will find that aquatic insects, snails and water beetles will soon be off the hook. If your pond is deep and accessible enough with enough hiding places, frogs (or toads or salamanders) will also find their way to the water. And dragonflies are beautiful creations that you definitely want to welcome in the pond; the larvae are real mosquito catchers. Win-win, then. Tip: It can help to add a bucket of water from a nearby pond or ditch when you build your pond. Many critters and bacteria already live in this and will find their niche in the new habitat.
How deep should a pond be for frogs?
For many people, the pond is not really complete until there are frogs that also reproduce in it. To make this happen, it is advisable to make the pond as natural as possible. A pond several meters in diameter and at least -80 cm deep is necessary for frogs to feel so at home that they will also lay eggs. It also allows them to descend deep enough to hibernate at the bottom. Amphibians like peace and quiet, so a quiet corner of the garden with about six hours of sun a day and no water fountain or running water are important points to consider when building your pond for animals. Also check out Simon's step-by-step plan for constructing a pond.
The best environment for frogs
Simon advises to definitely place (plenty of) pond plants in the pond with a layer of pond substrate on the bottom. That way the pond keeps itself in balance so that pump and filter are unnecessary and frogs have plenty of opportunities to hide in case of imminent danger. A marsh zone is definitely a good idea because not only can many marsh plants grow there, but also because the water there is somewhat shallower and thus warms up faster. This is perfect for the cold-blooded frogs that can warm themselves there in the sun. By the way, it is forbidden to fish frogs from the ditch and put them in your own pond. This is because both frogs and salamanders are protected animals. Better make your pond so attractive that the amphibians find their own way to the water. However, you can scoop out frogspawn (eggs) or frog larvae (tadpoles) and place them in your pond, as you will be helping to spread the species.
The brown and the green frog
In the Netherlands, we know two species of frogs: the brown and the green frog. But not every green frog is the same, as the group includes the pool frog, the mongrel frog and the common frog. In appearance, it is difficult for a layman to distinguish them because the differences are subtle and sometimes can only be seen if you have two variants side by side. The bullfrog is generally found throughout the northwestern part of the country, the pool frog in the southeastern part of the Netherlands. And the mongrel? You'll find those in all provinces. Anyone who wants to attract a brown or green frog would do well to place especially colorful flowering aquatic plants next to the pond. These attract many insects, which in turn is good for the frog, because it eats many types of insects.
What salamanders in pond?
The small newt is the salamander we often find in our garden ponds. With its camouflage colors of gray and olive, it completely blends into the water. Very recognizable are its black dots and orange belly, although on land it is brownish in color so as not to stand out. It is found throughout the Netherlands, so there is a good chance that the small newt - growing to 10 to 11 cm in length - will find its way to your pond. The salamander species has a specific menu, as it likes to eat copepods, water fleas and dance fly larvae.
How do I get salamanders into the pond?
Salamanders, like frogs, are amphibians, and in our country the small newt in particular is found in ponds. Their habitat conditions are largely similar to those of frogs (see above). But salamanders are more critical. Whereas frogs know how to locate virtually every body of water in a residential area, the same is not always true for salamanders. Therefore, you are more likely to find a salamander in the pond if you live closer to nature and not in a completely built-up area. What certainly helps is landscaping the rest of your garden with shady, preferably damp areas and low plants. That's what newts love.
Create shaded areas with water lilies
How do you get dragonflies into your garden?
Dragonflies are hunters and are constantly on the lookout for small, flying insects. They are beautiful creatures that - like the damselfly - are an asset to your garden. In fact, they are also very useful because, for example, they eat eye gnats and mosquito larvae. Even under the water surface they know how to find the larvae; these are eaten by the dragonfly larvae that live underwater. This immediately shows why dragonflies need water: they deposit their eggs on plants just above the water surface. The eggs hatch under water and the larvae grow up at the bottom of the pond. So if you want to attract dragonflies, make sure there are plenty of flowering aquatic plants in and around the pond.
Fish, frogs and salamanders?
Those who create a garden for animals may think of fish. These, of course, are also animals. However, we recommend being careful not to put too many or too large fish in your pond if you also want to attract amphibians. Large fish see the eggs of frogs, salamanders and dragonflies as food and eat them. Keeping a few small fish is possible. You don't have to feed them and they help keep the mosquito population around your pond in check, among other things.
Plants in a pond for animals
Those who want amphibians and aquatic insects in the pond would do well to install a diversity of pond plants. Bright pond plants are definitely one of them, because they attract insects. That's exactly what you want, because that way insectivores like frogs or salamanders always have plenty to eat. If you have a marsh area, plant long-flowering species such as yellow iris and pikeweed there. In the other, more submerged zones, a mix of oxygen plants, floating plants and aquatic plants is recommended. Good oxygen plants are waterweed, hornwort and crabgrass. These species help maintain oxygen levels in the water, which prevents algae growth.
Hardy oxygen plants
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Not only frogs, toads and salamanders live in a beautiful natural pond. But dragonflies, water beetles and insects also love such a pool of water. For other animals, it is a place to bathe and drink.
If your yard is landscaped to be attractive to amphibians (moist places with lots of shade, low plants), toads, frogs and salamanders will probably find their way into your yard naturally over time. This is especially true if you live in a wetland or if there are several ponds nearby.
Simon van der Velde
Pond specialist and aquatic plant grower since 1986
Simon's vision is to let nature do its work in your pond. No need to buy all kinds of measuring equipment and water improvers. If the fish are swimming nicely and the plants are growing well, then the water in the pond is of good quality. With a good planting plan and the right approach, you can save a lot of money and maintenance, and ensure a clear, biologically balanced pond that becomes more beautiful every year.