If you're a new pond owner, you're probably looking forward to the diversity your water feature will bring to your landscape. However, without the proper care, construction, and vegetation, ponds can be mucky, murky and unpleasant to look at. Clear pond water is an indication of a healthy pond and the starting point for a truly healthy water eco-system. Here is what you can do to help promote a healthy and clear pond.
1. Use water plants.
Plants help to keep water oxygenated and cut down on the amount of sunlight allowed to penetrate the water surface. Sunlight helps algae to thrive, so using desirable water plants helps to put the sun to good use. Easy plants for beginners include water lilies, water cress, and water grasses.
2. Build your pond with a pond liner.
Ponds can be built without pond liners, but they are more difficult to maintain. Pond liners make a solid barrier between the ground and the pond water, preventing your pond from developing a muddy bottom with dirt that can be stirred up. Without a liner, you'll need layers of rocks and a professional landscaper to engineer the pond so the water doesn't drain into the soil. Pond liners can be solid and hard, usually in a predetermined shape, or they can be fluid, conforming to any excavated pond shape.
3. Use fertilizer with care.
You want to make sure that water plants are being properly fed, but you have to find the sweet spot of enough food to keep your plants healthy, but not so much that you create an algal bloom. The best way to this is to feed the plants themselves. Water lilies float on the surface, but they are actually potted below the surface. You can add aquatic fertilizer tablets to the plants. Smaller water plants need less, and larger plants need more. Generally, you should use one fertilization tab for each gallon of soil, and you should feed the plants about once per month if your water is between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, warmer water will necessitate feeding your plants more often.
4. Keep your fish population under control.
Fish are lively addition to any waterscape, but too many fish results in too much waste and fish food for your small amount of water, feeding algae populations and overtaxing your filtration system. For starting out, try limiting your fish population to one inch of fish per square foot of pond. After that, you can add more fish to your pond as it matures -- usually one fish every thirty days. Make sure you monitor the fish, as another way to keep the system healthy is to remove any dead fish from the pond. If you have dead fish often, it's a sign that your pond is too small for the fish amount or that the water is not a healthy environment for them.
5. Add movement.
Most pond systems have a filter to keep oxygen circulating through the water. However, more movement is always an advantage for your small water ecosystem. If you add a feature like a small waterfall or stream, it mimics natural ponds more and more. Waterfalls add to health because stagnant water is what allows for an unhealthy environment to develop. Adding a water feature does not have to be a huge project -- but it is best if you add it in right from the start of your pond project to save on installation costs and to make it a part of your ecosystem right from the start.
Keeping your pond healthy and guiding it to maturation and balance is a careful project, but with these five tips and mind, you are well on your way to a successful pond feature in your yard.