A backyard pond adds a whole new dimension of beauty to your landscape. Not only do these small bodies of water add a new ecosystem to your space, but they also attract wildlife, create an additional water source for plants, and boost your yard’s access to sunlight due to the water’s reflective nature.
Keeping your pond clean, fresh, and aesthetically pleasing can be a bit challenging, but the results are well worth the effort. Some tips and tricks will have you beaming at your miniature babbling brook in no time.
Algae is a non-flowering, simple plant that contains chlorophyll but lacks stems, roots, and leaves. Suspended algae will turn your pond water green. String algae, which usually grows on rocks around the perimeter of the pond, will not.
Algae absorb nitrates that would otherwise get out of hand and serves as a source of nutrition for fish. Expect a new pond to go through a period of algae growth during its first year and the water to take on a greenish hue. Give it time to adapt. As the pond matures, it strikes a balance with its environment and helps keep algae in check, as long as you provide some regular maintenance.
That said, algae growth can become a major problem for ponds and is, unfortunately, extremely common. Most people prefer not to use chemicals to control it, due to the potential harm to fish and plants. One method of natural controlling pond algae is to use barley straw. While it won’t kill existing algae, it does inhibit new growth. Studies show that when applied in the fall or early spring, barley straw remains effective for about six months.
If you don’t have a mechanical pond skimmer, use a pond net to get rid of floating leaves, sticks, and other debris before they fall to the bottom of the pond and decay. Once debris starts to break down, it contaminates the water with impurities that can harm plants and fish. Check the pond often for grass clippings, insect larvae, floating algae, and pollen, and remove anything that shouldn't be there.
A pond with clear, fresh, water has good filtration. Manufacturers sell filters based upon the size of the intended water feature, and it’s best to choose a filter in the next size up so that it handles more than the capacity of your pond.
Mechanical skimmers remove surface debris before it falls to the bottom of the pond. Biological filters use beneficial bacteria to clean the pond water by forcing it to flow through its filters via a pump.
In certain conditions, UV lights can help prevent green water in established ponds, although they’re not filters and won’t purify or remove debris. Instead, they act as sterilizers to kill algae. The lights also cause the algae to clump together, making it easier to remove. To be effective, the algae must flow in front of the lights, which means you’ll need several of them to do the job.
The right combination of aquatic plants provides a natural water filtration system and protects the pond’s ecological integrity. Combine non-invasive versions of submerged aquatic plants, floating or surface plants, and marginal plants.
Waterfalls and fountains create an intriguing visual feature in your pond and are an excellent way to stylishly create movement. Not only does this agitation increase oxygen levels, but it also prevents mosquitoes and deters algae growth. To circulate water in larger ponds, consider installing a diffusion system that will circulate deeper water up to the surface so that it is exposed to the atmosphere. The process brings more oxygen into the water, similar to what air stones do in an aquarium.
Too many fish in a backyard pond can lead to an unhealthy environment with cloudy water and create a fertile breeding ground for algae. The bigger your fish population, the more waste ends up on the bottom of the pond, increasing ammonia levels.
Allow the fish room to grow and have babies and avoid overfeeding. For every 200 gallons of water, one to two six-inch koi or two to three goldfish is a good rule of thumb. A quality filtration system comes into play here, as well; it will help handle the excess waste.
It’s normal for a pond’s water levels to decrease between one and two inches per week due to evaporation. But if you notice the water level dropping two inches or more in 24 hours, chances are there’s a leak in the liner. Replace or repair the liner as soon as possible. Low water levels can lead to algae blooms.
Rocks layered around your pond aren’t just aesthetic. They prevent the soil from eroding and falling into the water. If too much soil falls into the water, your pond will take on a murky appearance or turn brown. Cloudy, murky waters often occur often during the rainy season or as a result of high winds.