Methods for creating water points for wildlife in your garden | Garden Design | Gardening Australia

Millie adds a few water points for wildlife and plants out a few species to encourage them to visit.  Subscribe 🔔

Millie’s garden is ambitious, in a relatively small space she is trying to grow food and flowers, create a multi-use functional outdoor space for people and offer habitat to the wild visitors. One of the simplest ways to do this is to add water. Just like we include a diversity of plant species, offering a diversity of water points will cater for different visitors.  

In a small garden bed near the backdoor, Millie wants to set up a simple water pot. I am using an old copper pot, which in my experience works well as a low-maintenance pond. A small amount of copper dissolves in the water, preventing algae growth and disrupting the lifecycle of mosquito larvae. The copper means it is not suitable for fish or frogs but works well as a bath and drinking point for birds. It also offers a great little microclimate for a range of water plants.  

To set up a water pot:
– Pick a position that gets at least 6 hours of sun and ensure it I relatively level  
– Put a shallow layer of gravel in the base 
– Place a few bricks and rocks to act as planting shelves and landing perches 
– Fill with water.

NOTE If you are planning to add fish, wait at least 24 hours to ensure contained chemicals such as chlorine can evaporate, or add a water conditioner.

When it comes to plants, those that like water are as diverse as those on land, with some preferring to be fully submerged, and others just liking wet feet. In many cases, aquatic plants grow well in small pots, as they can access water and nutrients from the water around them.

All can be potted in a similar manner –
– Use a heavy sandy loam, not lightweight, bark-based potting mix.  You don’t want loads of nutrients in the mix either, as they will just dissolve into the water.   

– Position the plant quite low in the container and cover the mix with a layer of clean sand and a layer of gravel.  This holds everything in place when plants are submerged.  

– Add a stick to ensure safe passage in and out of the water for any small birds.  

As well as the ground-level water pot, Millie is keen to take her habitat game to new heights!  The boundary fence is made of ironbark posts and steel mesh, and from the window, she has observed stacks of birds use it to stop and survey the surrounding garden. That indicates it will also be a great spot to safely provide water for them, out of reach of predators.   

– She attaches 2 galvanised steel brackets to a post and sits a large terracotta saucer on top.  Some silicone is used to hold the saucer lightly in position, and rocks are added to balance the bath and offer a route in and out of the bath.

– As a shallow elevated bath, this will need constant filling, so to ensure a consistent supply she installs some dripper to an irrigation timer.  

– This runs 1-2 times a day to flush the bath with clean water and ensure the birds can set their watch to it.

The fence line is already heavily planted, with climbing native and exotic clematis, espaliered feijoas and even a callistemon.  But there is always space for more!  Under the drip of the baths Millie plants a native groundcover, austral bugle.

The last water point offer is down low, a saucer of water placed on the ground near a habitat pipe installed for reptiles. To make the offering even more enticing, Millie plants some ruby saltbush.

We all spend a lot of spend a lot of time thinking about the garden.  Carefully planning plantings and displays, timing vegie sowing for each season, and even planning garden parties!  But the moments that fill the garden heart with joy are when those unexpected wild visitors pop in.  And there are so many ways you can ensure they have an open invitation.    

Featured Plants:
NARDOO – Marsilea drummondii 
SWAMP GOODENIA – Goodenia humilis 
AUSTRAL BUGLE  – Ajuga australis 
RUBY SALTBUSH – Enchylaena tomentosa 

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12 thoughts on “Methods for creating water points for wildlife in your garden | Garden Design | Gardening Australia

  1. Warble Durbler says:

    Lovely! I'd love to have water at different levels in the garden but don't want to provide a habitat for cane toads so I keep my bird baths and water dishes up high. That way the frogs can have a place to hang out and not be bullied by the toads!

  2. Cats PJ says:

    I have six water gardens (with copper rods to stop mozzies) and 3 birdbath plus 1 old frypan and the bottom an old terracotta baking dish at ground level I think is helping native species as well as old branches and trunks in the garden beds BUT my neighbours abuse me for wasting water and encouraging cockroaches, slaters and what they call bugs. As they say you can’t pick you family or your neighbours “from hell.” Go figure. 🤨🤨 I have no intention of getting rid of any of them but I sure know what I would like too get rid of. 😂😂💯💯

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