Frog on lily pad in garden pond

I have been creating and building wildlife ponds for over 20 years and I must say that it is a great enjoyment of mine that I like to share with people that I meet. I have built many nature ponds for a whole variety of people and there is nothing more exciting than when you see your first wildlife in their new surroundings.

It seems that not everyone gets to experience that joy right away and one question that I have been asked a lot of times is, Why is there no Wildlife in my Pond? Well, there could be numerous reasons why there is no wildlife in your pond.  The water quality could be poor or polluted, the water could be stagnant and not provide great living conditions or it could be in a hard-to-reach place.

Keep reading and we will try and help you diagnose the reason why there is no wildlife in your pond.

5 Common Reasons There is No Wildlife in Your Pond

Below we will take a look at 5 of the primary reasons that your pond may not be teeming with life. Some of them are nothing to worry about depending on the age of the pond or the time of year.

Unfortunately, some of the reasons are a little more serious and will require intervention.

1. Pond Age

Firstly, How old is your pond? If you have a brand-new pond that is under a year old, then you do not need to worry as most of your new tenants will not have found your residence yet. It can take up to a year before any critters move in, and even 2-3 years before you will see any amphibians like frogs or toads, but they will come.

A new wildlife pond will take time to populate and it is best to let it do so naturally so do not try and force it.

If your pond is well established and has previously had wildlife or is over a year old, there may be another reason for the lack of minibeasts in your nature garden.

2. Predators

One of the possible reasons that there is no wildlife in your garden pond is that they are being eaten. A healthy pond will have its own food chain and there is plenty of predators that will find the insects and frogs that congregate at your wildlife haven a very tasty meal.

Mammals

There are several mammals that will eat your pond wildlife. Domestic cats, foxes and even rats are among the mammals that will predate frogs and other amphibians. Others include otters, stoats, weasels, and badgers.

The insects are likely to be hunted by bats.

Birds

There are too many bird species to name that find insects one of their favourite snacks. In fact, insects make up a large part of many birds’ diets.

Some larger birds are also quite partial to an amphibian or two with herons being quite a pain, other birds that will eat your larger wildlife include crows and owls.

How to Deter Predators

There are several ways to deter predators

  • Good plant cover (long grass around the edge of the pond and lilies covering some of the pond surface)
  • Loose rocks around the edge of the pond (strong enough to take the weight of a large frog but loose enough to move and deter a domestic cats)
  • Decoy wildlife (a large heron or ornamental cat may suffice as many animals are territorial and may stay away if they see another predator at the pool)

If you do not think that you have a problem with predators eating the wildlife in your garden, it must be something else.

3. Time of Year

The time of year is also significant and will help us narrow down the potential reasons why your natural oasis appears deserted.

Unless your pond is brand new, the spring and summer should be a hive of activity in your garden as this is when your garden creatures are at their most active.

Autumn & Winter

The Autumn and Winter months are usually quite calm, and you will not see much wildlife at all. 

During the autumn, the frogs are preparing to lie dormant and the bugs are all but gone. Leaves will be falling from the trees and the flowers will have withered and died.

During the winter, you are unlikely to see any wildlife at all, the sun is low in the sky and the temperature remains low.

The wildlife will be hibernating or lying dormant ready to awaken in the spring so if there is no wildlife in your pond during the winter, there is nothing to worry about.

Spring & Summer

The Spring is when frogs lay their spawn and the plants and flowers begin to bloom. 

This is one period during the year where the pond will undergo a lot of changes in a short space of time and it should be alive with movement at all hours. Wildlife ponds make great viewing after dark with a torch and you may even be lucky enough to see a newt lay her eggs.

Summer is when the real parties start with frogs taking their very first steps and dragonflies taking their first flight. If your pond is over a year old and there is no sign of wildlife at all during this time, you may have a more serious problem.

4. Location

The location of your nature pond is particularly important and having it in the wrong place can have an influence on how much wildlife visits you. A pond that is poorly located can have a detrimental effect and mean that wildlife cannot reach your pond, or it could mean that the location has caused the water to stagnate making it difficult to live in.

Access

If you want to attract wildlife to your pond, you must ensure that it is accessible. Remember that amphibians cannot fly and if you have a raised bed with no way of frogs reaching it, you will not have any.

A raised bed should still attract insects but the diversity that you would expect in a ground-based pond will not be there and although this appears obvious, you will be surprised how often this gets overlooked.

Shade

Although a little less obvious, another thing that often seems to get overlooked is how much sunlight a pond will get. Ponds that do not get enough sunlight will rarely be healthy.

A pond will need healthy plants to properly aerate and clean the water and without sunlight throughout the day, plants will not oxygenate the water which makes it stagnate.

Stagnant water does not make for ideal living conditions and even if you do have some visitors, they will not stay long and that brings us to our final tricks to diagnose why there is no wildlife in your pond.

5. Pond Water Quality

Once you have ruled out the above environmental factors that may be hindering the development of your ecosystem, it only leaves the quality of your water.

This is probably the most serious problem and the fix can range from simple water treatment to the last thing we want to do in more serious cases and that is to start all over again.

Cleanliness

The cleanliness of our pond is particularly important as most wildlife will not cope with water that is polluted and dirty. 

There are many ways that water can become polluted and some of those ways are easier to control than others.

For example, if you live near a source of pollution like a factory or near farms that are using heavy pesticides, your water can quickly become tainted which is certainly not good for the environment.

Assessment

If you have a well-established pond and you are not attracting any wildlife, this will obviously be a concern but fear not, you will be able to carry out a test on your water (Amazon link – opens in a new tab).

Regular use of a home testing kit will help you monitor the quality of your water to prevent invisible problems that may arise and be harmful to wildlife. The testing kit we recommend measures pH Nitrate, Nitrate, Carbonate Hardness and General Hardness of your water.

Treatment

If you have discovered that you have a water quality issue, you will need to do a series of large water changes. We recommend that you remove at least 50% of the water once a week for a month or until you see the quality of the water become healthy for a sustained period.

If you do not fancy the hard work, you could also install a filter (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) but these are usually used for ponds that contain fish as they can kill all the phytoplankton and other organisms at the bottom of the food chain.

Summary

There are many things that can go wrong when building nature ponds and some of them will certainly deter wildlife.

It is highly likely that the lack of wildlife is caused by one of the reasons that we have mentioned, and all the reasons are preventable or treatable, so we hope that you start to see some little critters move in soon!

Garden Doctor Tips

Garden Doctor Trev

“Do not forget to let your pond age naturally, the wildlife will come on their own!”

“Test your water weekly to make sure that the water is healthy!”

“Keep a decoy animal near to the pond, a Heron is a good choice to keep birds away!”

“Always ensure that your pond plants are getting sunlight as, without the sun, the plants will not be able to do their job!”

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