The Pond Life: Pondering a Pond? (Article 1)

Welcome to this periodic BLOG.  I hope to add helpful content that will help with your pond which will give you insight to avoid many of the pitfalls when creating and caring for any type of water feature. 

I inherited my pond when I bought our home in 1998 in Emander (Emander is an unincorporated area north of Seattle).  I have a wooded, sloped lot on an acre of ground and the former owner had dug the original pond in 1992.  I knew nothing about ponds and owning or caring for one.  I was apprehensive, but found myself transfixed by it.  Thus, I was an “accidental” ponder.  What I didn’t know is that the previous ponder did most everything wrong.  I had to reconstruct the pond “the hard way”!  Studies show that the sound of water soothes the soul and water features relieve stress and are good for your psyche.  If you are thinking of a pond (or even a pondless water feature), there are a number of things you will want to ask yourself.  Water features can be as simple as fountain, a water garden, an aquatic plant garden, pondless waterfall, a stream, a marsh, or a pond (and many combinations of some or all of those things).  Some people desire aquatic plants, others aquatic animals, or just the sound of flowing water – for water sake and nothing more.  Lighting the features adds another dynamic.  Believe me, there are every manner of pond equipment and solutions available.  It is important to ask yourself what you are trying to achieve before starting (your scope).  Then look at the room you have, time and materials needed, and your budget.  However, there are three important pitfalls to avoid:  

Pitfall #1: Downsizing your scope.  Many people think that ponds are daunting.  They can seem that way, as it is not as common as some hobbies.  Many beginners choose a smaller and simpler scope than what they want in the long-run to achieve.  If you go through the time, effort and expense to create a water feature, you may be sorely disappointed with the end result, and you will want to upgrade and expand.  Like many hobbies, you don’t want to go this route.  It will be much more difficult to change up existing features and will of course be more expensive as you have to replace various components.

Pitfall #2: Buying simple and cheap materials.  Many beginning ponders start with a straightforward approach – the “pond in a box”.  They buy a plastic, black pool from a box store, and purchase accessories sold with it – this is an easier option than doing the homework for materials.  In fact, going this route, the pool is more difficult to install, the accessories are short-lived and expensive and the water is far more difficult to maintain than a pond with a larger volume.  The last thing you want to do is install something that is a maintenance nightmare, expensive to operate, and difficult to keep plants or fish in.

Pitfall #3: Costs.  This is not unique to ponds by any means, but sometimes the budget item seems like a way better deal than the more expensive one.  I too have fallen prey to this trap.  Within a year of buying the house, the submersible pump the owner had installed failed.  I bought a matching pump as a replacement, which again failed within the year (warranty), but after it was fixed, died completely a few months later.  I upgraded to the next “level” of budget pumps…this too failed.  At that point, I moved to a more reliable external pump, but again entered in with entry level equipment which had a short life.  I finally invested in a professional level pump – it will likely run for 10-12 years 24x7x365 with no issue.  Note: the costs of all the previous cheaper pumps were more than the pro level pump I ended up with.

So, are you still considering a water feature and/or pond?  Then decide what you really want, do your homework and buy good quality materials, spend a bit more money up front, as this will save you money and headaches in the long run.  These articles will help any and all facets of being a ponder. 

 Next Article: 02: The Pond Life – What is a Pond?

Table of Article Contents and Disclaimer

Pond pitfalls

1 comment

Ben Cooke

Ben Cooke

Jeff – great article! thank you for sharing. These tips really resonated with me. Having done freshwater mostly as a kid, then saltwater all throughout college and into my 30s, and now on to ponds, I wish I knew what I know now and taken all three points into consideration at the start as they resonate with all of my fish keeping experiences. It would’ve been a much easier, less painful, and less expensive journey throughout all of my fish tales had I done so. ;-)

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