Pond in a garden

Pond in a garden

Water’s naturally calming properties are just one of the many reasons why it’s beneficial to have a body of water near your home. Aside from the way it makes you feel, it can greatly enhance your home’s eco friendliness . A pond will have its own ecosystem, full of plants and animals that are different and diverse from those living on land; biodiversity extends the life of all living things in the area.

A body of water also helps to improve local water quality, as it has natural devices to filter pollutants or other unwanted runoff from the water that otherwise might go back into your showers and sinks. Some even believe that water can filter pollutants from the air, as it creates water vapor that rises and cleans as it does so.

It’s clearly a good thing to have your own pond, so now it’s time to learn how to maintain it so you can enjoy it for years to come. The following five tips are eco friendly ways to ensure that you’re not only improving your own quality of life, but also the Earth’s.

Test your water quality

This should be the first step in any sort of water-maintenance plan, as a water quality audit can reveal a host of underlying issues, such as water pollution. It’s the best place to start if you suspect a problem with your pond.

Even if you don’t see any sort of issue with your body of water, though, you should regularly perform audits. These tests might reveal something you can’t see, saving you money and time down the road, and saving the environment from any potential damage. There’s no excuse, either, considering how easy a water audit can be to conduct: Simply take a sample and analyze it yourself or pay a professional.

Keep banks in check

Your pond might be subject to erosion and runoff if its borders aren’t properly protected by foliage. The best way to keep its coastlines strong is with trees, which provide the best protection from this sort of damage. Grass also works well if you don’t have the budget or landscape for trees.

Avoid unwanted algae

While trees and grass do their part to keep your pond’s water clean, algae is an unwanted, albeit naturally occurring, guest. There are plenty of ways to control the amount of algae in your pond without the use of chemicals.

For one, you should try and maintain a depth of at least three feet throughout your pond to discourage the growth of small plants and algae. If the former take root, you can clean up your pond simply by pulling them out. Fish can also help, as some varieties eat string algae and bottom feed. Also, take note if your pond is accessible to any farm animals or livestock: they should be kept away, as their waste contains nitrogen. An excess of nitrogen sparks the growth of both algae and weeds. No, thank you.

Take care of your fish

Many homeowners choose properties with ponds because they can also use them for recreation. Be sure that your pond is big enough before you head out; experts suggest that only bodies of water larger than one acre should be used for fishing.

If you like to fish, it’s important to keep your pond’s fish population healthy and reasonably sized, too. One of the best ways to examine the health of your fish is to, well, go fishing. From there, you can see whether or not your fish look healthy and whether or not you need to enlist the help of an expert to improve their quality of life.

Otherwise, give your fish a safe and eco-friendly home by throwing an old Christmas tree, for example, into the waters of your pond. They’ll use it as shelter for breeding and you’ll know the location so that it’s easier to go fishing and check on their health.

Plant with caution

Finally, you might want to spruce up your natural pond by planting a few flowers, shrubs or aquatic plants that grow right in the water. If so, do your research. Water hyacinth, for example, is a beautiful addition to any outdoor space; however, it can make its way into the local water system and completely take over, pushing out native species and reducing biodiversity. This clearly isn’t good for the environment.

To be sure that what you’re planting is beneficial, speak to a local environmentalist or water-management expert. You could also try planting cardinal flower, calla lilies or yellow flag. They’re all perennials that thrive alongside ponds, which means they’ll make your backyard getaway even more beautiful and special.

[box]Kate Wilson is a green living writer passionate about helping others to live happier and healthier lives. For more, check out her blog This Wild Lifestyle or follow her on Twitter @kateowilson.[/box]
image: Ruth Hartnup via Flickr
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