Ponds and Water Gardening forum: Need Pond Information

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2
Views: 911, Replies: 28 » Jump to the end
Name: Marylyn
Houston, TX (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I sent a postcard to Randy! Region: Texas Daylilies Lilies
Cat Lover Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Marylyn
Jun 29, 2013 12:43 AM CST
Hi! I have a spot in my front yard that has terrible soil (the previous owner had gravel there) and nothing grows there. It's between my other beds. I'll go out in the morning and try to get some photos if it will help. It's at the center of the yard, right in front of the house, and it should be a focal point - and instead it's a brown ugly eyesore. Thumbs down I would really love to put a pond there, but it isn't close to any electrical outlets so I can't do a pump or electric filter. I spent a lot of time looking into the costs a few years ago, and it just isn't in our budget, so I've given up on the idea.

I found the link to this video (http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/32317-gimme-shelte...) in the tips sticky thread here, and the guy there said that for a little pond you don't need any power. Is that right?? I can't get a deep pond anyway, because it is in my unfenced front yard and anything deeper than about 2 feet is considered a pool and involves a LOT of rules, regulations, inspections and fees here in the city. Blinking If I get one of those preformed ponds, or a watering trough, and plant water plants and toss in some mosquito fish, will it actually be ok? It would only get about half a day's sun, and there are some crepe myrtles above the area, so I would have to skim leaves and blossoms out of it fairly often...

Suddenly hopeful....

Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
GW & DG: tropicalaria
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Garden Photography
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tomato Heads Organic Gardener Greenhouse Native Plants and Wildflowers Herbs
Image
psa
Jun 29, 2013 3:03 AM CST

Moderator

I'm going to tell you that it is possible, but there are a lot caveats.

First, a more heavily planted pool does a better job of filtering itself. If you can get good coverage of the surface of the pond then algae is starved out and the vascular (regular) plants do a good job of filtering the water.

Second, I highly recommend fish that are mobile enough to stir the water around and find all of the mosquitoes, but not so numerous as to overwhelm the planted capacity for filtration and oxygenation. I tend to like carp (such as goldfish and koi) which can breathe from the surface when they need to and pick at every little algae, snail, and weed invader that shows up in the water, but I expect there are many options.

Third, the amount of light you get will make a large difference in how happy your plants are and how much they bloom. My instinct tells me that half a day of Texas sun will be enough for most things, but your mileage may vary.

Leaves falling in the pond are detrimental unless you have a well cycled system with good oxygen levels and high filtration capacity (natural or otherwise). Cycled pond water is full of chemicals and bacteria which immediately set about degrading leaves that have fallen in, freeing the nutrients they contain. Again, mature, heavily planted tanks have less trouble with this.

I tend to run all of my small, outdoor ponds without electricity. This is heresy in some parts of the aquatic gardening world, so I don't advertise it loudly. I often temporarily run aeration in water imported from other ponds when setting up a new system, and circulation pumps in anything over 35 gallons. This means a combination of fountains (aeration and circulation), bubblers (aeration with localized circulation), and powerheads (underwater circulation only). I have a set of 100' 12 gauge extension cords for this temporary purpose, which I have been known to partially bury, with a box next to the pond to protect the connections. I'll keep these running for the first month or two as I'm planting and adding fish, and then back them off when nutrient levels drop and oxygenation levels remain stable. Keep fountain splashes 24" from water lily pads, though; they don't like it. I think it's possible, though harder to do without this step. You have to go very slow and careful with adding water, and if you move too fast and create anoxic conditions there is no fix but to aerate or drain the pool. I have also seen people successfully set up 25-35 gallon pools all at once without any electricity, but it doesn't work well for me in the long run unless I get the system properly cycled.

There is less of a safety net in the pond when it is smaller (less water to contaminate) or lacking external aeration and circulation. I am constantly assessing pond health:
  • smell--clean, not sulfurous
  • cloudiness-absent
  • types and locations of algae--harder to explain, but bodies of water go through cycles of different types which you can learn to recognize
  • floating and suspended particles--absent, as they get gooped up by healthy bacterial populations

  • I also keep test kits on hand for when I suspect something is wrong.

    This pond, picture posted previously, is only ~150 gallons, two feet deep with very steep sides, and six feet across. It has had no electrical inputs in three years. It contains ~6 goldfish in the 4" range (hard to tell how big they are under the pads) and holds 4-6 medium or large hardy water lilies, a nuphar, and some water iris. It gets up to eight hours of sun/day and is in constant bloom from May to November, with anywhere from three to twelve blooms at a time. I need to split the water lilies and remove some of them. I've never fertilized them, though they are planted in pretty rich muck.
    Thumb of 2013-06-23/psa/16af86

    My tropical water lily ponds, which I can't get a good picture of since I'm in the process of tearing them up to move them, are run entirely differently. The fertilizer that I give the tropical water lilies puts a much heavier strain on the pond, but I keep elephant ears, thalia, cannas, and more in them to help with that. My tropicals are pulled out every year and I keep water hawthorne in the ponds which multiplies easily and blooms heavily and fragrantly in the cool air of early spring and late fall outside, and all winter long in the greenhouse. The greenhouse water lily ponds always run aeration, and often have underwater pumps and heaters when I want them to bloom nicely in the off season. Others here will have to fill you in on how they keep tropicals in zone 9a winter ponds if that's your interest.

    This picture was of a newish pond, as you can tell from the material in the water and the poor surface coverage. At this stage I'm actively removing algae, but no longer using any electricity.
    Thumb of 2013-06-29/psa/e4dbf1
    Name: Jewell
    South Puget Sound (Zone 7a)
    Ferns Region: Pacific Northwest Cottage Gardener Hellebores Dragonflies Ponds
    Permaculture
    Image
    Jewell
    Jun 29, 2013 9:45 AM CST
    Great info Paul. My pond too are without filters/pumps for 30+ yrs. I live in a much more temperate climate so wouldn't begin to give info for someone in Texas. I have started using the barley straw enzymes and the Pond Care products to help keep my big pond (with too many fish) balanced during our bursts of hot weather. These might be helpful when initially getting a pond balanced and dealing with algea blooms.
    Name: Elaine
    South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
    The one constant in life is change
    Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
    Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
    Image
    dyzzypyxxy
    Jun 29, 2013 10:33 AM CST
    Marilyn, as long as you're prepared for the complications a pond can present, they surely are a delight. Once they are in balance, they can be very easy care as well.

    My pond is old and well-established and also has a pump and waterfall. I'm sure it was a fairly costly project when it was installed but it was here when we moved in. I am in Zone 9a,or thereabouts so here's what I can tell you. Some years my water cools off enough in winter to send all the plants into dormancy, except the iris. So it is lush and beautiful in summer but can look fairly dull through the winter months if it's cold. When my oak trees are shedding leaves, I put a net - piece of bridal veil fabric - over the pond to collect them, rather than let them fall into the water. Maybe you could trim back some branches of your crepe myrtles that are over the pond to prevent too much 'fallout'. The water lilies will bloom better the more sun you give them, too.

    For a small, simple pond such as you're thinking of, you could get a small solar-powered fountain for a little bit of circulation and aeration of the water if you need it. Other than that, as Paul says above (Wow, great info!!) the challenge is just getting the pond into balance after it is first installed. I have cheap goldfish from Petsmart in my pond and they are pretty, wily and I never have to feed them. I just add water, treated to remove the chlorine, to keep the water level up if it doesn't rain. Don't be tempted to buy fancy, expensive fish.

    Another concern, if your yard is not fenced, the pond might pose an attractive nuisance to dogs and small children, (!!) who can drown in as little as a few inches of water. If there are wild kids (the ones that run loose, y'know?) in your neighborhood, I'd consider it necessary to fence off the pond area even if the city doesn't require it. It absolutely will attract birds and raccoons eventually, so do read up on some of the other threads in this forum on that subject.

    One more gem - when we moved into this house, and I had never had a water garden before, I bought an excellent book 'Water Gardening for the South' by Teri Dunn. I practically wore it out the first year, and still refer to it a lot.
    Elaine

    "Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
    Name: Ursula
    Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
    Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
    Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
    Image
    Ursula
    Jun 29, 2013 11:21 AM CST
    Our little pond holds about 800 gallon water and I don't use any pump! I have the pond stocked with Paradise Fish over the Summer, they do an excellent job taking care of Mosquito larvae and whatever, including snails. They are Anabantids and so they can live happily in still waters.
    I did however buy them a solar panel this year, it supports a small bubbler and that is perfectly sufficient for them.
    The only drawback to use these types of Gouramies is that they have to come inside in the Fall in my climate zone.
    [Last edited by Ursula - Jun 29, 2013 11:24 AM (+)]
    Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #441193 (5)
    Name: Marylyn
    Houston, TX (Zone 9a)
    Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I sent a postcard to Randy! Region: Texas Daylilies Lilies
    Cat Lover Garden Ideas: Level 1
    Image
    Marylyn
    Jun 29, 2013 4:02 PM CST
    Thank you everyone!!! We'll do some more research. It's 107° out there today, so we're not going to start digging yet! Hilarious!
    Name: Becky
    Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
    Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
    Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
    Image
    beckygardener
    Jun 29, 2013 5:08 PM CST
    Marylyn - I don't use a pump on either of my 35 gallon pre-formed ponds. They are still-water ponds. And I agree with what others here have said ... it takes time for the water and plants to balance out. I always get an algae bloom when I have to change out the water in the ponds (which is what I am having to do now because of the destructive raccoon attack). So I know that the water will get worse before it gets better. Eventually the plants will clear the water and it will be beautiful! It will become the perfect balance of plants and water environment in time. I like having fish, too. But beware that water birds and raccoons will attack your pond if they see a food source. I had no critter issues for years, but this year the raccoons discovered my ponds and literally destroyed the plants and ate almost all my fish in both ponds. So I will now be covering my ponds with plywood every night to try to prevent that from happening again.

    Water gardening is my absolute favorite kind of gardening. Also the easiest once your pond is established. I buy hardy waterlilies for my ponds. Even in zone 9b, the cold winters usually kill any tropical waterlilies because my ponds aren't very deep. So I've learned to only use hardy waterlilies here even in tropical Florida!
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
    Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
    [Last edited by beckygardener - Jun 29, 2013 5:10 PM (+)]
    Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #441397 (7)
    Name: Marylyn
    Houston, TX (Zone 9a)
    Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I sent a postcard to Randy! Region: Texas Daylilies Lilies
    Cat Lover Garden Ideas: Level 1
    Image
    Marylyn
    Jun 29, 2013 5:13 PM CST
    Thank you!! Smiling
    Name: Becky
    Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
    Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
    Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
    Image
    beckygardener
    Jun 29, 2013 5:17 PM CST
    Also, my ponds get some shade in the afternoon. The waterlilies probably don't bloom as much as they would, but I like having a shady area to sit in to enjoy my ponds. It also helps cut down the algae growth. (Algae needs sunlight to thrive.) I still get blooms on my waterlilies, so I don't consider some shade during the day to be an issue.
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
    Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
    Name: Marylyn
    Houston, TX (Zone 9a)
    Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I sent a postcard to Randy! Region: Texas Daylilies Lilies
    Cat Lover Garden Ideas: Level 1
    Image
    Marylyn
    Jun 29, 2013 5:21 PM CST
    That's very good to know. Thanks, Becky!!
    Name: Becky
    Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
    Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
    Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
    Image
    beckygardener
    Jun 29, 2013 5:25 PM CST
    Good luck with whatever you decide, Marylyn! If you take the plunge, you'll love water gardening! Thumbs up
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
    Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
    Name: Carolyn Madden
    Pennsylvania
    Charter ATP Member The WITWIT Badge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Daylilies
    Bulbs Purslane Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Hummingbirder Clematis Cat Lover
    Image
    Carolyn22
    Jun 30, 2013 8:48 AM CST
    beckygardener said:Good luck with whatever you decide, Marylyn! If you take the plunge, you'll love water gardening! Thumbs up


    I agree

    Name: Elaine
    South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
    The one constant in life is change
    Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
    Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
    Image
    dyzzypyxxy
    Jun 30, 2013 10:05 AM CST
    Absolutely, and of course we're all here to support you in your efforts.
    Elaine

    "Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
    Name: Carolyn Madden
    Pennsylvania
    Charter ATP Member The WITWIT Badge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Daylilies
    Bulbs Purslane Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Hummingbirder Clematis Cat Lover
    Image
    Carolyn22
    Jun 30, 2013 6:06 PM CST
    Elaine - you are so right.

    Name: Bonnie Davis
    Clermont, Fl. (Zone 9a)
    BonnieGardens
    Mar 18, 2014 7:38 PM CST
    Elaine,
    I'm curious-if you cover your fish every night with plywood cover how do they get oxygen? Also, do you have any large koi say 12".

    Bonnie
    Name: Elaine
    South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
    The one constant in life is change
    Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
    Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
    Image
    dyzzypyxxy
    Mar 19, 2014 8:01 AM CST
    Bonnie, I don't ever cover my pond, its Becky that does. I was wondering that, too!

    Well, qualify that to say I do have some bridal veil netting suspended over the pond right now to try to catch most of the flower 'bitties' from the oak trees that will be falling for the next few weeks. The leaves and pollen don't bother me nearly as much as the dead flowers from my four huge oak trees. They all seem to end up in my pond.
    Elaine

    "Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
    Name: Becky
    Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
    Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
    Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
    Image
    beckygardener
    Mar 19, 2014 6:17 PM CST
    Bonnie - I only have covers on the larger round container ponds (not the smaller containers). They warp from the humidity so the covers are not laying on the pond sides completely flush. I also have chicken wire covering the ponds at night, too. The plywood cover rests on top of the chicken wire which also elevates it up about an inch or less up so air does flow through. The raccoons can't move the plywood covers because it is too heavy. Though I do see little track marks on top of the covers, so I know the raccoons are trying very hard to figure out how to get into the ponds at night! LOL! But so far the covers have worked and no fish have been eaten and the ponds have not been destroyed since I started covering them at night!
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
    Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
    Name: Glen Ingram
    Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
    Bearded Dragon young male
    Region: Australia Annuals Canning and food preservation Herbs Tropicals Foliage Fan
    Plays in the sandbox Cactus and Succulents Garden Photography Hybridizer Composter Sedums
    Image
    Gleni
    Mar 24, 2014 5:04 AM CST
    I noticed mention of floating mosquito control ring in the water feature articles. On the web I cannot find a decent review of it. Does anyone have experience of the efficacy of the rings?

    I cannot use mosquito fish. They are a declared pest and they also eat tadpoles and are implicated in the decline of frogs here.
    Name: Elaine
    South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
    The one constant in life is change
    Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
    Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
    Image
    dyzzypyxxy
    Mar 24, 2014 9:06 AM CST
    I use Mosquito Dunks in all my standing water around the yard, Glen, but not in my pond. The goldfish take care of any mosquito larvae in the pond. So plant pots, puddles, ditches, spots in the rain gutters where the water sits, they all get a little chunk of Dunk about once a month.

    The main active ingredient in the Dunks is bacillus Thuringensis subspecies israelensis which is a naturally occurring bacterium that is toxic to the mosquito larvae, but doesn't harm fish or animals. Our cat regularly drinks from the plant saucers and has done for years. She's 13 now, and in pretty good health.

    The package does caution you not to use them in water intended for human consumption, but that's just 'covering their you know whats'.
    Elaine

    "Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
    Name: Becky
    Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
    Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
    Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
    Image
    beckygardener
    Mar 24, 2014 9:13 AM CST
    Glen - I usually buy mine online through ebay:

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=daylily+seeds&_osacat=0...

    They are much cheaper through a bulk purchase. I buy the cheapest brand as they all seem to work the same.

    Each dunk lasts about a month. So not too bad if you don't have too many water gardens.
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
    Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
    [Last edited by beckygardener - Mar 24, 2014 9:15 AM (+)]
    Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #576539 (20)

    Page 1 of 2 • 1 2

    « Garden.org Homepage
    « Back to the top
    « Forums List
    « Ponds and Water Gardening forum
    You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

    Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "Dianthus 'Nyewood Cream'"