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.

amcken3
12/24/2018 5:37:02 PM

Its sad to see you suggest PLASTIC or CARPET square lining. There is nothing "natural" OR healthy about either of those two items. Please read the book A Cure For All Cancers, in it you will find that plastic and carpeting are the 2 most deadly toxins known to man, according to Hulda Clark. I'm pretty disappointed, surely there is a way to avoid such liners (maybe by adding clay to the soil or by some other means).


amcken3
12/24/2018 5:37:01 PM

A "natural" pond that you recommend PLASTIC or CARPET liners?!?! I suggest you read the book A Cure For All Cancers. Plastic and carpeting are the top two toxic contaminants listed. SMH


amcken3
12/24/2018 5:28:27 PM

Its sad to see you suggest PLASTIC or CARPET square lining. There is nothing "natural" OR healthy about either of those two items. Please read the book A Cure For All Cancers, in it you will find that plastic and carpeting are the 2 most deadly toxins known to man, according to Hulda Clark. I'm pretty disappointed, surely there is a way to avoid such liners (maybe by adding clay to the soil or by some other means).







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