A beautiful, well designed garden pond will add style and functionality to your lawn and garden, but keeping a poorly designed small pond clean and looking good can be quite a chore. Those of you who are familiar with my writing know that I occasionally get up on my soapbox about doing things in cooperation with nature instead of fighting against her.
In fact, many years of trying it both ways have convinced me that the natural way of building a pond results in lower installation and maintenance costs, is easier on our fragile natural resources, and even more fun!
I always aim for the most natural, low maintenance pond systems. I have heard numerous horror stories of thick, “pea soup” green ponds which quickly became nightmares for their owners.
Drastic measures were taken to rid these ponds of the algae problem, including extensive, sand-based filter systems and very expensive ultraviolet light sterilizers.
I always felt those “solutions” merely treated the symptoms instead of the causes. The UV light did indeed rid the pond of the algae, but it also removed all the beneficial pond organisms that actually contributed to the reduction of algae causing the problem to quickly return, even worse than before.
After much research, I discovered a system based on cooperation with natural systems – a system that was inherently low maintenance. Below are several of the basic principles of this pond system, principles that contribute to a healthy, low maintenance water feature.
One of the most beneficial features that you can install in your pond is a rock and gravel bottom. The millions of tiny spaces created are readily colonized by beneficial microorganisms which break down organic waste deposited by fish and decomposing plant material.
The rocks and gravel effectively function as a large biological filter, reducing maintenance for the mechanical filter and creating a clean, healthy pond environment. Rocks and gravel in the pond also:
- Provide a habitat for beneficial aquatic insects and snails
- Protect the pond liner from the sun and damage from larger animals
- Provide a more natural look than a smooth surface
- Isn’t slippery like smooth surfaces
- Will hold the pond liner securely in place
Placing aquatic plants in your pond also helps to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Plants use the carbon dioxide and nutrients that are produced by the various beneficial organisms living in the gravel and in the biological filter.
Without plants, there would be an overload of nutrients in the pond, resulting in highly toxic conditions for other pond life. And yes, algae is indeed plant life! A small amount of algae is normal, and even beneficial to your pond’s ecosystem. We just don’t want the algae to get out of control and take over the pond.
Aquatic plants also provide:
- Beauty and character for the pond
- Oxygen for all of the pond animals
- Shade from intense sunlight
- Food for fish and insects
- Shelter for all varieties of small pond creatures
Other factors are also beneficial to the beauty and health of a low maintenance pond ecosystem. Colorful fish provide countless hours of relaxing entertainment while feasting on algae, mosquito larvae, and other insects.
Although most pond owners feed a small amount of food to their fish, they can actually feed themselves in a well-balanced pond.
It’s also very important to use an efficient skimmer to remove the larger surface debris, as well as a biological filter through which the pond water is pumped.
In conclusion, a clean, healthy, and beautiful pond ecosystem is based upon on interrelationship of all its parts. Each link is important for the survival of the pond as a whole.
My initial research into water features revealed a multitude of systems and options, along with many conflicting ideas and advice. The pond system that impressed us as the most user-friendly, lowest maintenance, and most nature-friendly is produced by Aquascape Designs. We’ve been providing these outstanding systems to satisfied clients for three years.
We recently finished installing our own water garden installation here at our home, and to say we’re very satisfied is a huge understatement!
Enjoying the beauty and tranquility of our new pond and waterfall has become a relaxing daily ritual for our family.
Dan Eskelson is the owner of Interactive Landscaping Solutions, where you can plan and visualize your new landscape online. You’re an Essential Part of the Design Team! Photo courtesy of Interactive Landscaping Solutions.