Planning for a Pond on Your Property
Choosing a Location for Your Pond
A pond can be quite an attractive feature for your land, even if it is just your backyard. It can bring in birds and be an attraction to children and adults alike for the soothing and relaxing atmosphere that it provides. Remember that a pond is more or less a permanent feature and cannot be moved about every now and then, so take some care when creating your pond and it could give you and your family an endless source of entertainment and create an ecological marvel for the bird and plant life around, as well as providing for the watering needs of any livestock.
If you have a lot of land, choose a location for your pond that will take advantage of your land’s natural slopes. There may be a low spot on the land that seems a natural spot for the pond where rainwater already flows and collects. Otherwise you can always create contour bunds (low walls or embankments) to direct the runoff to the spot that you have decided for your pond. It is always desirable to avoid any nearby sewerage or drain lines as this could contaminate your pond in case of leakages.
Your ponds will also benefit from some shade, so planning for a pond at a place that has some trees nearby would be a good idea. Create shade for half the pond and leave the rest open to the sun. Algae formation is one annoyance that takes place in ponds, and this is due to the sun. The shaded portion may be saved from such growth. The problem with trees, however, is they do shed leaves and this can be a source of irritation when the leaves fall into the water. Make sure the roots of the trees are not disturbed when you dig for your pond.
If you are building the pond in an area that has zoning regulations, you would do well to find out whether you need any permission for the pond. You may be required to fence it in to render it safe for children. Ponds do alter the ground water levels in the areas surrounding it and this may affect the foundations of buildings nearby. So play it safe and get all those permits in before you even start excavating the ground for your pond.
Maintaining Your Pond
Plan for a pond that has a minimum depth of three feet if you are going to have any plants in it or are going to keep fish in it. This depth of water would allow the fish and plants to survive even in very cold weather when the pond could freeze over. The bottom of the pond can be made permanent, but this will increase the cost tremendously. The use of bentonite clay to seal the bottom is an alternative worth considering. Without any sort of surface at the bottom however you may lose all the water of the pond, unless it is situated at a place where there is a permanent inflow of water like a spring. You will also lose water from the pond due to evaporation so replenishing the supply is a constant need. Evaporation losses can however be reduced by the spraying of surface chemical retardants, which will however work well only in the absence of wind.
A pond would have to be properly maintained for it to give you the benefits that you are looking for. Floating plants like lilies can shade the water for the fish and also prevent algae formation. Some experts say that barley straw can also prevent algae and adding a block of it to the water may serve the purpose. Do not put in too many fish into your pond as they may not find enough food if they are overcrowded. They could also foul the water. Remove leaves that fall into the pond. Covering the pond during the fall days may be a good idea, but cumbersome to implement especially if your pond size is large. Clean the pond once a year by siphoning out the water. You would however need to take care of the fish or other species that you have in the pond. Pond water can be used to water a garden as this can benefit plants. You would however have to replenish the water that you remove, as this could affect its level. Consider aeration of the pond to keep the water constantly fresh and to help the fishes and the plants.
Using Sodium Bentonite to Seal Your Pond
Sodium bentonite swells to eighteen times its size when it is in contact with water. This therefore fills up the holes in any porous material at the bottom and creates a seal that is watertight. The soil at the bottom of the pond needs to be blanketed with the bentonite before water is filled in to it. A four-inch thickness would even withstand a person walking on the bottom surface. It is cheaper than other sealing options, but the work should be done by professionals.