The minute it seems Jack Frost has bid Canada adieu for the year, people across the country make a mass exodus for cottage country. But what if, *gasp*, you’re minus a cottage? Don’t worry. You can bring the cottage to you! Building a pond is just the ticket to creating a serene oasis in your own backyard – equipped with croaking toads to boot.
Location, Location, Location
Before you start digging up your backyard, do your research. Give your local bylaw inspectors a call to ensure you’ve got the go-ahead to build a pond in your area. You should also practice safety first. If you have small children, you might consider installing a fence around the pond to prevent them from falling in. All clear? Spend some time in your backyard to find a partially shaded area that gets about four hours of direct sun per day. Any more time in the sun, and your serene pond could become a haven for algae. And don’t forget to pick a spot that’s within reach of a garden hose so you can fill ’er up.
Ready to pull up your sleeves? You’ll want to excavate a hole that’s at the very least three metres x 3.5 metres x 0.5 metres deep, with a slight slant at one end. If you’re hoping your pond will host frogs over the winter, keep in mind that the waters must be at least two metres deep in some areas in order to keep your hoppy friends happy and…er…alive. Otherwise you’ll have to install a pond aerator to keep the water from freezing through.
Next, discard stones and line the bottom with five centimetres of sand, following a 45-mil EPDM rubberized black pool liner. Place flat stones along the outer edges of the pond and scatter soil amid them – enough to ensure grasses will grow around the border.
Want to skip the grunt work? Buy a preformed pond! A word of caution: preformed ponds are regularly designed with steep sides, which make it hard for frogs and toads to get out. If you decide a preformed pond is the way to go, just be sure to add extra rocks and logs around the edges to help your amphibian friends get out.
It’s finally time to fill ’er up! But if you’re filling the pond with chlorinated water, be sure to wait a week before adding aquatic plants. You should plant aquatic vegetation in pots at various depths within the pond. Want to add a spot for frogs and dragonflies to soak up the sun? Place a small island of rocks approximately one metre from the edge of the pond.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Not only are you creating a serene little spot for you and yours, your pond will become an oasis for all sorts of wildlife – including frogs and toads. These critters are a crucial part of healthy ecosystems – they help control populations of mosquitoes and crop-damaging insects. Both frogs and toads quench their thirst by absorbing moisture through their skin. The problem is that they often can’t find any and might opt for unhealthy sources like swimming pools instead. Moreover, 39 per cent of amphibians are at risk in Canada, so it’s important that we do our part to conserve their habitat and create areas for them to thrive.
Although it may take a while for frogs and toads to catch on to your new watery addition, be patient. They’ll be hopping to your backyard soon. Whatever you do, don’t catch frogs or toads and relocate them to your pond. They won’t stick around, anyhow. Amphibians have been known to travel more than three kilometres to return to the pond where they grew up.
To create a haven for frogs and toads, keep in mind what they need at different life stages and seasons. Tadpoles chow down on algae and plant material, and once matured, frogs snack on a variety of insects. So be sure to either locate your pond next to a garden to attract plenty of bugs or have plenty of plants nearby to satisfy your amphibians’ hunger. When winter hits, make sure the water levels of your pond don’t dip below two metres deep — tadpoles need at least two metres of water to survive, and frogs can only make it through the winter if the pond doesn’t freeze over. And don’t forget to create a cozy nook of leaf piles for frogs that overwinter on land.
Room Service: The Dos and Don’ts of Pond Upkeep