An eco-friendly pond becomes home for frogs and adds a trickling water feature in this McKinnon garden 🐸
Here's how you can design your own Frog Pond.
Obsessed with sharing your yard with nature? So was Abby. Her parents got me to overhaul her front yard in Melbourne from a tired to a contemporary garden - and featuring a frog pond. A frog pond with all the trinkets: subtle night lighting and a small pump to circulate the water and make a cascading, trickling noise to drown out local traffic. I must admit seeing native magpies and other small native birds using the completed pond as their watering hole was pretty satisfying too. So we added a submerged rocky platform for the critters to take a bird bath on hot days.
Here's some pointers on how you can make your own Frog Pond in your garden...
Here's what you'll need:
- Pond liner (you can also use an old bath or plastic kids pool)
- Rocks & sand
- Native swamp & pond plants
- Water neutraliser to save time
- Lighting (optional but recommended)
Choose a spot
Selecting an area that gets a mix of shade & sun is ideal. Sun promotes plant growth, and dappled shade stops the frogs from getting too hot. Why not position the frog pond near a garden path or in a courtyard? The aim of the game is you want to see & hear it too.
Digging the hole
We suggest you run your plans by local Council. Always avoid digging up underground services! (And while you're getting friendly with Council staff, consider asking them about the maximum depth of a water feature to avoid child-safe fencing. Keep it safe!). Our Poly Pond dish was 1100mm dia, so we dug a hole slightly bigger, sat the Poly Pond into position and compressed the soil back back into the open gaps with the blunt end of a crowbar (AKA your heel). Oh - If you're a perfectionist like me - use a spirit level to ensure the pre-formed pond is level.
Now you've dug your hole you'll need to line it with a Pond Liner or buy a pre-lined or pre-formed pond. (We got our round poly pond from Bunnings, made in Italy with a 20-year guarantee 👍). Pond liner enables you to get creative with abstract frog pond shapes and sizes. It's cheaper, but it is more time consuming. If you choose a concrete pond, it will need to be 'cured' beforehand. As well as several water changes, we recommend scrubbing the pond with vinegar and rinse thoroughly. And as they say on shampoo packets, 'repeat if necessary'. Clever marketing!
Rocks & sand
OK so now you've dug the hole and positioned the Poly Pond in place. Easy right?
Now line the base with washed gravel or sand, and create natural rocky ledges and slopes to allow frogs (and native birds to access the pond for a bird bath). I rubbed shoulders with a local farmer who swapped me a ute-load of these awesome Mud Rocks for a small wad of cash. Check out the natural variation in colour!
Filling with water
If you are filling your frog pond with tap water, ensure you allow time for the chlorine in the water to dissipate before adding plants. Instead of waiting about 5 days for this process I instead added a chlorine neutraliser from a local pet shop to speed up the process. Or rain water if you've got that luxury. Start off with better water quality and attract native insects and microorganisms that become the food source for those higher up the food chain. Top up water levels and never allow to run dry!
Furnish with (native) pond plants
See plant schedule below for some variation in plant structure & height. This adds a more realistic setting and is more visually attractive. Check out Port Melbourne's native nursery if you're local (actually called St Kilda Indigenous Nursery) - they're a knowledgeable bunch of volunteers, and super friendly.
Pond pump: Arouse your senses
Not like that ... you're so dirty! The sound of water is soothing; the trickling helps you relax after a hard day at the office. Close your eyes and pretend you're in holidaying in a Bali villa. An added bonus is a pump gently circulates the water and oxygenates the water, and the subtle waterfall splashing overcomes the noisy traffic.
Want to maximise your pond? Add night-lighting and enjoy the water feature in the evening. A soft light will attract inspects meaning your frogs won't go hungry.
Here's some bonus points:
- BUDGET: More or less $1500 including pond liner
- TIME TAKEN: One balmy September afternoon.
- ELECTRICITY: Put your pump & night-light systems on a timer so it turns on automatically when you get home from work for a few hours.
- 100% NATIVE FEATURE PLANTS: Triglochin striata (Streaked Arrow Grass), Ficinia nodosa (Knobby Club rush), and a special mention of the Villarsia reniformis with it's kidney shaped leaves & rewards you with bright yellow flowers on stems to 50cm. Villarsia (known locally as 'Running March Flower') thrives in wet soils or ponds to 40cm deep where leaves float on the water surface similar to a water lily.
Questions, comments & small banter welcome below 🐸