DIY Natural Backyard Pond

Learn how to build a natural backyard pond that stays clean and algae-free without the use of pumps, filters or chemicals.

| October/November 2015

  • Natural Pond
    Plants and wildlife thrive in the author's southern Ontario natural pond, where mechanical systems and chemicals are strictly off-limits.
    Photo by Robert Pavlis
  • Planting Ledge
    Incorporate a wide, shallow planting ledge into the design of your backyard pond.
    Photo by Robert Pavlis
  • Pond Liner
    If you must use a pond liner, protect it with a carpet underlayment.
    Photo by Robert Pavlis
  • Pond Shallow Ledge
    To foster water-cleaning microorganisms in your natural pond, place rocks and pebbles on the shallow ledge.
    Photo by Robert Pavlis
  • Pond Illustration

    Illustration by Keith Ward
  • Clean Water Pond
    Your natural pond won't need a pump or filter because the many small rocks on the ledge will harbor beneficial microbes to keep the water clean.
    Photo by Robert Pavlis
  • Cattails
    Native cattails can seed themselves on the planting ledge of a backyard pond.
    Photo by iStock/AndrewKravchenko
  • Pontederia Cordata
    Flowering pontederia cordata, commonly known as pickerel rush or pickerelweed, thrives in shallow water.
    Photo by Fotolia/Gordana Sermek
  • Iris
    Iris laevigata and iris hexagonae are beautiful water plants that will thrive on the edges of your natural pond.
    Photo by Fotolia/F Studio
  • Water Lillies
    Water lillies will shade the surface of a natural pond and help inhibit algae growth.
    Photo by iStock/aimintang
  • Umbrella Plant
    Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata) is a "marginal" plant that prefers the perimeter, or margins, of a natural pond.
    Photo by Fotolia/Axel Gutjahr

  • Natural Pond
  • Planting Ledge
  • Pond Liner
  • Pond Shallow Ledge
  • Pond Illustration
  • Clean Water Pond
  • Cattails
  • Pontederia Cordata
  • Iris
  • Water Lillies
  • Umbrella Plant

Water, soil, plants and animals live together in a harmonious balance in a natural pond. No one needs to scoop out algae. The water doesn’t need pumps and filters to stay clean and oxygenated, and required maintenance is minimal. Years ago, I dreamed of having such a backyard pond, but everything I read claimed that pumps, filters, chemicals and constant care would be necessary. So, I set out to prove the experts wrong.

Natural Garden Pond Design

In a conventional backyard pond design, algae levels are controlled by adding chemicals and using a mechanical filter and a circulating pump that cost up to several hundred dollars. These filtering systems are essential because a standard design doesn’t provide a hospitable environment for the beneficial microorganisms that would otherwise keep the water clean. I have found that by changing the design so the pond itself becomes the filter, you can eliminate the need for such systems.

This article will focus on how to create a low-maintenance, natural pond in your backyard by applying these principles:



• Provide surfaces for beneficial microorganisms to grow.
• Prepare plenty of space for plants.
• Restrict sunlight from the surface of the water to reduce algae growth.

Room to grow. Insects, frogs, fish and other living creatures add organic matter to a pond, as do pond plants and nearby shrubs and trees. This organic material would build up and overwhelm the water were it not for the pond’s secret weapon: microorganisms. These organisms are everywhere — in soil and on rocks and plants — and they feed on organic matter. The more surfaces there are to support microbes, the cleaner the water will be.

thatfishguy500
10/8/2018 3:22:03 AM

Check out this one year video of a pool to pond transformation! https://youtu.be/Xw-keUdwvxU


Steve
3/31/2018 10:57:26 AM

Thank you so much for all this information I'm going to begin digging my pond out very shortly. I am so excited


bettinafurler
3/22/2016 4:49:22 AM

If you are considering building a pond, there are several things that you need to consider, that includes the location, the type of pond you will build, space, time and budget. These http://www.ponddye.com/blog/4-factors-to-consider-when-constructing-a-pond/ will allow you construct a pond and determine what are the things or living things that you need to incorporate in your pond, if you live in colder region, and your pond's surface will most likely freeze, then you need to make sure that the depth of water is ample enough. Should you wish to have a pond with no filter system, you can do so by using plants or bogs. You may choose to do a dye treatment if you wish to add a more scenic view to your pond plus it helps control the growth of algae and weeds. The topography also plays a large role since optimal pond site should be in a small stable and well-vegetated drainage basin which is above flood plain so you will have natural drainage and avoid the need for expensive drainage system. If you wish to put koi in your pond, then plants are not advisable, but if you wanted a water garden, you may put more plants.






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