There are many benefits to having a backyard garden pond that extend well beyond creating a natural, relaxing and picturesque landscape. Ponds are also tremendously beneficial to your local ecosystem. Freshwater habitats are an effective step towards backyard permaculture, providing nutrients for your vegetable garden, water catchment, habitat for beneficial insects and amphibians and so much more!
Natural Pest Control
Not only are ponds beautiful and peaceful but they attract and provide a habitat for a wide range of beneficial insects, amphibians and fish. Ponds will attract dragonflies, frog, bees, butterflies and birds. These beneficial visitors eat many pesky and destructive garden bugs providing a truly beneficial service!
Ponds provide essential hydration to any plants that you have growing neat the pond. Often the pond is the healthiest and most lush area of the garden and the lowest maintenance. Pond water contains more nutrients that the water from your garden hose. It can be used to water other plants throughout the yard. During the dry season, you can position drainpipes or any water run-off you might have to flow right into the pond, creating a natural reservoir. If you have a particularly soggy area on the a pond can be an ideal way to take advantage of this “problem” creating something useful from a problem area.
Rest and Relaxation
Ponds provide a meditative spot for you to unwind and relax. Placing benches and areas to sit will invite people to sit and watch the fish, while reading, thinking or just taking a quiet moment from the busy world. A pond is often the most popular place in the garden.
Designing Your Garden Pond
Often, your natural landscape will dictate the the shape and features of your pond. Follow the contours of the area to create a natural shape. Look for rocks and driftwood and other elements that will cover the material used to line the pond. If you want a waterfall, you need to plan your location accordingly looking for a nicely sloped area. You can also build up using concrete blocks, large rocks and other material to create the elevation you need for the waterfall.
The Best Garden Pond Plants
These plants provide protection from both predators and the sun to your fish and to the frogs as well. They also reduce algae build-up in your water helping to keep it clean and clear. The most common varieties include Water Lillies, Lotus, Water Hyacinths and Water Lettuce.
Under Water (Submerged) Plants
These plants grow under water and provide hiding places for your fish. They are oxygenating plants meaning that they pull carbon dioxide out of the water and then release beneficial oxygen after photosynthesis. Varieties include: Jungle Val, Rotala Rotundifolia, Hornwort, Red Ludwigia, Anacharis and Cabomba to name a few.
Water Friendly Plants
There are a number of plants that thrive and grow in shallow water or in soil that is heavily saturated with water. They grow best near the edges of your pond. Avoid planting things that will drop a lot of leaves into your pond. Varieties include: Cattails, Irises, Day Lillies. Perennial Types of Sage and many fancy grasses.
Fish for Your Garden Pond
You are going to want to keep fish in your pond to prevent an accumulation of mosquito larva. The fish will eat up all that larva in the early spring. It is quite entertaining to watch the life cycle of fish and to see little babies swimming around. There are a variety of fish suitable for small ponds including: Koi, Goldfish, Algae Eater, Water Lily, Sturgeon, Sunfish and many more! Check with your local aquatics store to see what is available in your area.
Garden Pond Supplies
In addition to your set up costs which can fairly widely depending on the materials and resources you use, you will also need some general pond supplies. This can include: A long handled net for removing debris and leaves, A pond pump to circulate water if you have a waterfall or feature, a de-icer to keep a hole open in the pond allowing toxic gasses to escape in the winter, aquatic plant baskets, for submerging your plants and fish food.
It Can be quite a lot of work, digging out a hole, collecting rocks and other material to finish the pond with and planting all of the wonderful plants that will thrive in this area, but a garden pond is well worth the effort and with a bit of care and attention it’s something that can be enjoyed for countless years.