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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Landscape

Pond Myths

We’ve been putting in residential ecosystem ponds for a long time now. Here are some misconceptions we hear fairly often that should dispel any concerns you have.

The pond has to be deep.

We hear this one the most. When ponds were built like concrete swimming pools with a vertical drop along the edge of the pond, this might have been true. With the advent of liner ponds, the building of plant shelves and the placement of boulders, the koi are well insulated from their predators. Hundreds of thousands of residential ponds are two feet deep all over the country (they’ve become very popular). In fact, in California the code is two feet deep. That you need something deeper is simply a myth perpetuated by concrete pond builders. And if you do build it deeper, you are required to put an unsightly fence around it. Nobody wants that.

Predators like raccoons and birds will eat your fish.

Again, this only happens when predators have access to your fish. With the way we build liner ponds, we isolate the fish at the pond’s center and essentially eliminate their access. Raccoons don’t like getting in the water. They sit at the side of the pond and wait for the fish instead. So when the fish occupy the deeper, more protected part of the pond and can’t escape the sequestration of its shelving, the raccoons ultimately give up. They can’t reach the fish. We can also build a fish cave and other hiding places when excavating and installing the rock if this is a concern you have. However, if you live near a lake or some other significant waterway, the one predator worth legitimate consideration is the Blue Heron. And although for most people finding one in the backyard is rare, it does happen. At that point there are predator eyes and water sensors that can be employed, as well as a scarecrow.

Rock and gravel in the pond make it difficult to clean.

Rocks and gravel offer a natural place for aerobic bacteria to colonize and set up housekeeping. These bacteria break down the fish waste and debris that would otherwise accumulate in the pond and turn into a bio-sludge that is taken up by aquatic plant roots. You need gravel and a well-balanced pond can go years and years without having to be cleaned. Similarly, it isn’t difficult to keep a pond well-balanced.

UV lights are the best way to keep your pond water clear.

If you have a pond that's naturally balanced, in which the aquatic cycle of life is rotating the way Mother Nature intended, you don't need a UV at all. In this naturalistic setting, the fish control the plants and algae, then produce waste that gets broken down (along with other pond debris) by aerobic bacteria colonizing in the rocks and gravel below. It's then taken up as nutrition by the plants, continuing the cycle.

A pond in your backyard means you have a lot of mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes will only lay their eggs in still, stagnant water. Ponds are kept on 24 hours a day so this is never an issue. If you turn your pond off for an extended period of time (which you should never do), and mosquitoes lay eggs in your pond, the fish in your pond will consider the hatched larvae a welcome treat and pick them off the water's surface with great enthusiasm.

You cannot have a pond in an area where there are a lot of trees.

False. Your pond will have more leaves in the fall, but the shade provided by trees will help minimize the algae bloom in the summer. Furthermore, the skimmer will suck the top quarter inch of water off the top of your pond and pull most of the leaves and related debris into a waiting net. This takes about 30 seconds to empty. So don't worry about trees and ponds. They're fine.

It's necessary to drain and clean your pond regularly.

If you decide to work in harmony with Mother Nature by installing an ecosystem pond as we recommend, then draining and cleaning your pond should take as seldom as possible. The larger the pond is, the less likely you will have to clean it out more than every five years or so. Clean out should occur in the spring before the weather gets warm and the bacterium has an opportunity to set up.

My Pond will overflow when the rains come and it will be a giant mess.

When we install your skimmer, we also install an overflow basin connected directly to your pond so that any excess water leaves your pond well before it reaches the top. The water trickles into the basin and drains naturally.

Learn more on Jefferson Landscape and Design's Water Features section of our website.

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