Building a Wildlife Pond in the Vegetable Garden
Build a small pond in the garden to attract frogs. Frogs are an organic gardener’s best friend since they love eating slugs and other garden pests.
Although I try my best to garden organically there is one pesticide that I battle with myself over – slug pellets. Without them my leafy vegetables will be transformed into slimy green lace. You can argue for other methods – beer traps, egg shells, picking them off individually but for me slug pellets have always been the best and easiest way to do the job. There are organic and pet and animal-safe slug pellets available but I decided to try something I’ve heard was just as effective – frogs.
Frogs are a natural predator of slugs and snails and if you invite them into your garden they’ll keep a close check on their numbers. Inviting them in is as easy as building a wildlife friendly pond with taller vegetation near it and some hiding places in the water. Build it and they will come.
The idea came to me as I was tidying up my cottage wildflower garden at the end of the season last year. I accidentally disturbed a large frog and then helped herd him into the hedge. I don’t know why I was surprised to see him there though, especially since there was a pool of water near the far end which had been there all summer. It was time to build a purpose-built frog pond where frogs were needed most – near my vegetables.
I’m 100% about making home and garden projects on the cheap so what I had on hand to create the pond at my allotment vegetable garden were:
- An old wooden ‘raised bed’ that had been abandoned by a former plot holder
- Black PVC plastic that had been used for suppressing weeds
- Stones dug up from the soil
- Native Flag Irises and a Marsh Marigold dug up from home
- Plants and flowers from other parts of the garden
The first step was digging a hole deep enough to take the wooden raised bed. You could build a pond without this wooden frame but I though it would keep the edges of the pond neat, tidy, and less prone to soil falling in. I dug the area in the middle a little deeper to create a better hiding space for frogs and to also create a place to put a water plant.
Next I placed a layer of black plastic in the hole and then the wooden raised bed on top. I pulled the plastic up and over the sides of frame and stapled it on the inside lip. A second layer of black plastic then went inside the frame and its edges come up and over the wooden frame again. I wanted to protect the wood as much as possible from damp and rot so hopefully this plastic sandwich will work.
To secure the plastic I filled in the gap around the edge of the wooden frame with soil. It holds the plastic down and brings the soil level right up to the edge of the pool.
Next I filled the bottom of the pond with stones and lined the edge with larger ones. A large rock sits in the water at a diagonal to create a hiding space underneath and a way for frogs and animals to get out of the pond.
The water came from the hose-pipe and it cleared in the pond after only an hour. A clear pond is no use for frogs though so the next day I came with plants.
Yellow Flag Irises are marginal plants and I’ve planted them at the back where the most plastic is exposed (my pond is situated on a slope). I’ve also placed a Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) in the pond towards the front. When they take, they’ll provide food and foliage for frogs to live and hide in.
I was told by a friend that frogs will move in naturally and sometimes immediately but I’ve also had the offer of tadpoles to complete the project. Some of them will arrive today and others next week. With any luck, my garden will be ‘Hopping’ in now time!