The Keys to Minimal Pond Maintenance
There are a lot of factors that determine how much maintenance a pond will require. When a pond is correctly designed and constructed using components and processes that work with nature pond maintenance is very minimal. And by minimal we are talking only a few minutes a week for an average sized 15’x12′ pond with a 10′ stream.
Many, however, may believe that having and maintaining a pond will be a lot of work eventually ending in complete frustration. Surely we have all seen someone’s cute little attempt at a pond end up as a green and foul smelling murky mess.
Both are possibilities. The success or failure of a pond is based on understanding a little about the ecology of a pond which is an ecosystem and following steps that allow nature to do most of the heavy lifting for us.
Here are the 5 components necessary for achieving a very low maintenance pond.
- Rocks and gravel
- Re-circulation of the water
Over the last decade or 2 pond technology has improved dramatically as we have come to better understand how to enhance the health of our pond ecosystem to ensure that water quality stays high. If we ignore the factors that keep the system balanced then our maintenance efforts will increase significantly.
Let’s discuss how each of these elements impact the water quality of a pond.
Filtration is necessary to remove the debris that gets into the water. If it is not removed it will eventually sink to the bottom of the pond where it will slowly decompose into a brown and smelly muck. In the ponds we design there is a separate unit that contains the pump which pulls water into it. The water flows through a basket and multiple mats to remove most of the debris in the pond.
Rocks and gravel are needed as they allow beneficial bacteria to adhere to the surface. These bacteria will break down the small amount of debris that does not get filtered out. We encourage the practice of adding bacteria to the pond during the growing season to power up this powerful cleaning engine. It is ironic that sometimes people without gravel will be afraid of putting the gravel in their ponds because they are aware of the muck that forms on the bottom and worry about how they would clean it. The reality is that when the gravel is there the muck layer does not form.
Re-circulation of the water with the use of a pump, of course, is part of the filtration process, but it also helps to add oxygen to the water for the fish and for the bacteria to do their work. For most people though the recirculation of the water in the form of a waterfall is the most impressive part of a pond. This is what gives the pond it’s most dramatic and captivating effect.
Fish are also a necessary component to our pond ecosystem as they munch on algae and sometimes plants and insects in the water. Fish also have a very amazing effect on us. It is a little like watching a fire in the firplace in winter. We can do it for long periods of time and it has a very relaxing effect upon us. Many people who have not experienced fish are often lukewarm about having them. But, almost immediately this becomes one to the most wonderful parts of having a pond.
Plants are the final piece to this recipe of creating a low maintenance water feature. The plants we put in our ponds remove much of the nutrient in the water which is fertilizer for them. Now most plants do not live in water over 12” deep so if the pond is dug out to be 2 or 3 feet deep all around there will not be places for our plants to grow. In our construction we build steps into the design that allow us to incorporate these amazing water detoxifiers. And of course plants naturalize and soften the effect of a pond with all the stone and gravel around it.
Now that we have gone through the elements necessary to creating a balanced ecosystem for your pond, just what does that mean in terms of the maintenance required? Here is a schedule of maintenance tasks you will want to follow with approximate times.
- Check the skimmer basket in the skimmer unit every 2 or 3 days. After a storm or windy day this may need to be daily – Time: 1-2 minutes. In fall we highly recommend using a net to prevent the heavy fall of leaves from getting into the water. The nets that we construct are surprisingly unobtrusive to the view and will be a life saver in terms of keeping the leaves out of the water.
- Add bacteria to the pond once every 2 weeks – Time: 1 minute
- Feeding the fish is something that is not a chore, it is a highlight of the day. Watching the fish rush over to you showing their appreciation of your presence is surprisingly heartwarming. And if you are out of town for a few days no worry. The fish will be fine eating debris in the pond.
- Checking the water level. With a pond there will always be a small amount of water loss through evaporation and splash so you will want to monitor this. Every pond is different but maybe this is once a week. Again this is not really a chore as you can turn on the water as you sit enjoying the wonders of your pond.
- Trimming plants is something that doesn’t happen until the plants are a more seasoned. Of course it depends on the amount of plants you have – Time: 15 minutes a month.
- Spring cleaning is something that we highly encourage to make sure your pond is working efficiently and starts the new growing season off looking great. Honestly, this is not a job for a homeowner as you will not have the equipment and it is a very messy job. Have this contracted out and save the trouble.
And really that is about it. There will be more things you do around your pond as it becomes an important focal point in your life, but that is in the category of fun and personalization. So to sum it all up you might spend an hour a month on pond maintenance. Clearly that is a very small price to pay for something that adds immense value to the quality of your life.
If Your Pond Maintenance Chores Are a Lot More Than This Call Us. (913) 749-8090.