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Large Pond Management Tips

2/17/2014 9:05:00 AM

Tags: pond management, watershed, Darrell Rhoades, Maryland

No two ponds are alike, even if they are on the same property.

I know this sounds strange, but having living proof really brought out that statement as we watched our ponds evolve year after year. The most obvious differences in these two ponds are plant life and water clarity — and these factors differ for our two ponds. One would think that being on the same property and sharing the same watershed they would be the same.

Watershed overview

Let’s take a closer look to see what makes these ponds different.

First up is the construction of the ponds and the land they were built on. The big horseshoe-shaped pond was the first pond we built. Compared to the little pond, there was massive amounts of earth moved from the back of the pond to the front where the dam was built. Previous to our arrival on the property, it was a planted field for years receiving fertilizer and chemical weed control. Over the years, these fertilizers and chemicals leached into the ground, and after the pond was built, we stirred all of this up only to expose it once again to be used by the pond. The little pond had less earth movement and only had the pond dug and compacted with clay.

Zooming out a little way, we see the watershed for the ponds are fed from the same property but a closer look reveals that the little pond receives its water from the wooded area and grassy, non-mowed area, while the large pond receives water from the overflow of the smaller pond but also there is more mowed yard in its watershed.

Both ponds receive nutrients from the watershed either from decaying leaves or decaying cut grass. Another differences is the tall grass around the little pond diffuses rain and softens the rain drops landing on the ground while the mowed area allows the rain to reach the soil faster and causes small particles of earth to dislodge and wash into the large pond, silting it in and adding nutrients.

Pond Inhabitants' Effects on Pond Health

The pond inhabitants are also a factor in water quality. Aquatic plant life dies and decays each year. Fish do the same. And then there are the flying manure spreaders, also known as Canadian geese, adding to the mix. All of these living factors add an incredible amount of nutrients into the pond and also help to add to the muck layer at the bottom of the pond. Even the fish species have an effect on the pond. The large pond has Koi fish, which root around the bottom, stirring up the fine particles of clay and keeping the clarity of that pond at a minimum.

start of PhragmiteCanadian Geese (yes, other water fowl as well) travel and visit many ponds, their waste and what they can track to your pond may come from a pond that is infected with an invasive species of plant such as the phragmite. This has happened in our little pond but we are working to keep it under control. The appearance of this phragmite was directly related to the visiting goose when we didn’t have our deterrent in place due to the long winter season. (We've learned our lesson and will be ready next time.)

Livestock Effects on Pond Health

Livestock can be a detriment to the pond as well if they are able to walk in and out of the pond to drink or if their pasture is above the pond, allowing their waste to be washed in. Ideally, your pond will be built above the pasture and plumbed so the water can be pumped out or gravity-fed to a trough for the livestock drinking water.

Ponds do have a life span and it will take the pond owner's help in keeping them alive, healthy and thriving for years to come. Another quick note about the two ponds in the picture above: We use our pond dye and it shows two different colors. This is due to the large horseshoe pond's water clarity and the suspended clay particles the Koi fish have stirred up.

Watch for our next post to discover tools used to keep our ponds clean, healthy and happy for all. Plus, natural products with no harm or worries to the environment or living creatures in and out of the water.

Additional information on Phragmite from WhatPond's website.

Photo's by WhatPond.com



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