1. I’ve heard ponds can be a lot of maintenance.
While there is a bit more maintenance with a pond it does not compare to the maintenance of a swimming pool. The underlying principle we promote is to follow the natural systems that you will find in nature. In a natural system, bacteria break down fish waste and plant material, plants then take out excess nutrients in the water, while stone and gravel help to promote good bacterial colonization.
Our ponds are constructed with a mechanical skimmer to help eliminate leaves and debris that would otherwise fall to the pond bottom and create excess nutrients in the water. A quick check and emptying the skimmer basket is recommended usually once or twice a week. Increased leaves can add to the water after a storm or in the fall.
Adding bacteria treatments in the form of a powder or a liquid regularly throughout the season is required to keep the system in balance. By following the natural system and keeping the pond balanced you will take care of 90% of issues that may come up. We are always available if you have further questions about your pond.
We also have an automatic dousing system that dispenses the proper amount of bacteria on a daily basis to keep your water crystal clear
We do recommend that a pond be drained and cleaned once a year where it is flushed and inspected for any problems to make sure it works perfectly throughout the season. Generally we do these cleanouts in the early spring.
We also recommend covering the pond with a net in the fall to prevent the large amount of leaves from accumulating in the pond. These nets work very well and really are minimally obtrusive to the eye.
2. I have heard a koi pond should be at least 4’ deep in order for them to thrive.
This is a common myth, but proven to be false. Most of our ponds in Kansas City are only 2’ deep in the center and Koi fish do fine in the winter. It is recommended that a floating heating unit be used to keep a hole in the ice to prevent the build up of harmful gasses. We also know other pond contractors as far north as Canada who will vouch that 2’ is okay during the winter.
3. Why does my pond have so much string algae?
String algae is a very fast growing type of algae that forms long strings that can cover a big area of your pond or stream. While it can be unsightly, string algae is an indicator that there are too many nutrients in the water and is nature’s filter for excess nutrients. Some years it may be very bad and other years it is not a problem.
We have a few methods to eliminate string algae. We would first recommend a series of bacteria and string algae buster (SAB) treatments. The next step would be using a copper ionizer (Ion-Gen) that emits copper ions which kill the algae but have no impact on humans or fish. Every product we recommend is natural and non-toxic.
4. What about predators around the water?
While predators can be a problem in certain ponds there are ways to minimize the impact. The main predators are herons, raccoons, and cats. We normally will build fish caves into our ponds where fish can hide from danger. We have also found that heron decoys help to keep herons away. In extreme circumstances netting is a possibility. As far as cats or raccoons are concerned we would build steeper drop off into the water as these animals usually don’t get in the deeper water to hunt.
5. We are concerned about cleaning all the muck out of the pond so we do not want gravel in the bottom.
On the surface this would make sense, but in reality just the opposite happens. Without the gravel on the liner you will have more muck build up. Here’s why this is true. As stated bacteria are a key element in the system. The bacteria accumulate in the gravel and so they help to break down the muck layer that will form without the gravel. Ponds with gravel stay much cleaner
than ponds that don’t have gravel. The round gravel we use also protects the liner.
6. What do I do in the winter with my water feature?
This really depends. Some people run their systems all winter and some shut their ponds or pondless systems down. The key issues are the severity of the winter and the level of interaction you are willing to give. In extended cold with lows in the single digits or below with highs below freezing the biggest issue is the buildup of ice around the edges from the splash. This effectively lowers the water level because the water is tied up in the ice on the rocks so it is necessary to watch the water level more closely. If your hose is outside and is frozen it is difficult to add water. I have a walkout basement and hook my hose to the washer inside and run it out into the pond so while that is a bit more work I am able to keep the pond running all winter down to about 0 degrees.
Most people at that point, however, will want to just turn it off. If that is the case there are a couple of things you must do. The flex PVC pipe should be disconnected from the hard plastic PVC check value which will crack if it freezes. The pump can then be lifted out of the water and taken into the basement where it will be above freezing. If you have fish it is imperative that you keep a hole in the ice as that will allow ammonia gases to escape. Using a floating heater will accomplish this objective. If the pond freezes over completely for any period of time the fish
will be at risk. Another option is to use an aerator setup that stirs up the water enough to keep it
from freezing around the opening.
If weather is not extreme and highs are above freezing you will be able to keep your pond going with a little less attention. So whatever you decide to do just depends on your situation and the configuration of the pond. Long streams are more difficult to keep going while water flowing directly into the pond without a stream is easier to manage.
For pondless waterfalls and fountains if you want to shut them down just disconnect and remove the pump. No further attention is necessary. The water freezing in the basin will not be a problem.