Photography And Filming In Your Own Garden - Part 3 - Amphibians

Not only is water important for the birds visiting your garden, it's also important for all your other visitors: foxes, hedgehogs and whatever else may be around.  The structure doesn't have to be big or deep and it doesn't have to be permanent. 

If, like me, your prefer a low maintenance garden, this is an ideal way to bring in more wildlife.

I used breeze blocks, paving slabs and bricks to shape my water feature and then just covered it with pond liners to hold the water in.  It's not complicated at all.  No cement was used, so I can alter the shape or the route of the feature if I want to.

It doesn't have to be a level structure either - but it would be advantageous if you were able to cascade one section into another.  This way you always have some water movement when it rains and a natural filtering process.  You can also add a small lump of clay to one of the higher sections to help with the quality of the water.  Stones and pebbles become areas for good bacteria to live that will also help maintain good water quality.

Please remember to overlap the lining from the higher levels over the lower levels or your water will disappear!  You don't need deep areas either.  I have frogs breeding in my garden every year and the deepest section is around 7 inches.  They will also spawn in the shallower areas of about 4 inches.

Fill the structure with water from the top when you have finished building it and allow the water to cascade down from level to level.  If you've built the structure correctly, the water level will stay constant in all the areas.  If the water is disappearing then you either have a tear in the pond lining or you haven't overlapped the lining correctly from one level to the other.

You can now think about filling the area in with plants, shrubs and trees that can live comfortably in pots of various sizes.  It's also important to have logs as insects will be present all year round and some species will stay around and feed on them such as Wrens and Goldcrests.

The next stage is to use all the water available when it rains.   I routed all the guttering from the front and back of the house to big water butts.  Every time it rains, the butts fill up and then cascade water into the water feature.  Plants oxygenate the water but water movement helps the process too as it splashes down into the feature.

Your regional water board may discount part of your water bill if you can show that all the water off your roof is being used in your garden and isn't flowing down the drains.  My roof drains from the front and the back fill different water butts - so it's all used.  I just diverted the existing piping to where I needed it.

All you need to do is attach some piping from the water butts to daisy chain them and then make sure the there's piping from the last butt into your water feature.  If the water levels in your feature get low during Summer, just attach a hose to a butt tap and top up the water feature.

If all goes well, you'll see thousands of tadpoles appear in your garden.

It's illegal to bring tadpoles in from the wild into your garden but so many people have amphibian friendly gardens - ask them for some tadpoles.  Once the tadpoles become small frogs, they venture away ... but they will come back.

It's not too late to create this part of the garden - get cracking though.  If your neighbours have frogspawn in your garden, that's even better than moving them at the tadpole stage.

Good luck!

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