The best way to enhance wildlife - make a pond!
As you know I do love my amphibians, and they love water, so naturally (excuse the pun) I needed to make a pond. In my experience, there is no better way to attract wildlife into the garden than by making a wildlife pond. Not only amphibians, but insects, birds and mammals need water to thrive and as soon as a pond is dug they start to arrive in droves.
The pond was dug in autumn the same year as I built the house, because with a digger at hand I thought it logical to do as much work as possible. I chose a location at the edge of the forrest, mostly due to the natural water flow of the location. Here the forrest slopes down gently and as the soil is predominantly clay it has always been a soggy swamp-like area. Perfect for a pond! There was no liner needed, with such thick clay at the bottom the water stays at more or less the same level all year round.
The edges of the pond were decorated with some large boulders. Of course in a few years time the vegetation has grown so much that they are barely visible, but they still serve their purpose as stepping stones and landing bridges for birds and small animals. Also, they retain warmth when the air cools in autumn and quite often one will find grass snakes enjoying late autumn days taking sun on them.
Nowadays the pond is much more overgrown at the edges than it was during the first years, but still as deep in the middle. As nature is so strong in Finland, I decided not to introduce any foreign varieties of plants into the pond but let it develop over time. The edges are naturally sloping into the water, so toads and frogs can easily get in and out of the water. However, if you have steep edges to your pond you can make wildlife ladders by adding rocks, stones or gravel to give a slope into the pond.
Also, if you decide you do want to have a more decorative pond with different kinds of aquatic plants, that is absolutely fine! The main thing is to introduce water to your garden, as native plants and wildlife will find its way to the water source with time. Just remember never to import any wildlife like toads and newts from other ponds! This is because you might inadvertently contaminate your pond with disease. (You can read more on that at for example Froglife.)
Late in the summer the pond water looks messy with the surface cluttered by alge and leaves. It doesn't matter at all - the inhabitants prefer it that way. A sunny mid-September afternoon I spot a beautiful grass snake (Natrix natrix) enjoying the sunshine on one of the edging boulders. The picture is not quite in focus, because as soon as I moved in to get a better picture it slithered into the water to hide.