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Balancing a Backyard Pond

Chances are good that if you have a pond as a water feature in your back yard that right now it looks about as bad as it gets. The long hot days of summer create a real mess in our ponds. It does not have to be that way.

One of the main difficulties in water gardening is keeping water clear of algae. Algae problems are caused from too many nutrients (nitrates) in the water. This is caused by a combination of factors :
feeding fish too often,
having too many fish,
not having plants or the wrong combination of plants,
not enough oxygen in the pond,
over fertilizing plants
decaying organic matter in the water.

This image taken this cloudy morning, August 2, 2018 shows a neglected but balanced pond. The water looks black and reflective because there is no sun; but you don't see any algae and it is not pea soup green.

Get any of the above items "out of balance" and you have "pea soup" colored water in your pond. Don't get the wrong concept here all natural, non-chemical controlled pools of water will vary in water clarity at certain times of the year. Your job as a water-gardener is to minimize those swings. You can get minimize algae by reducing on the nutrients that cause the algae by cutting back on feeding and fertilizing, planting more plants, installing a filter system, or adding oxygen to the pond with some form of aeration. The one thing you never want to do for algae control is drain the pond and fill it with fresh water. You will just be starting the process all over again.

You have a balanced pond when you have the right number of plants consuming the available nitrates and providing the proper shade. Some plants are heavy feeders and others are not. This is one of the things you need to consider when you choose what type of aquatic plants you wish to have.

Plants can be free floating, submerged, or marginal. Which you choose from each category is a matter of personal preference. Some plants are good for their scent, some provide more oxygen than others and will keep the pool health, some are heavy feeders (nitrate consumers), and some are just beautiful to look at.

Fish are not only nice to look at but they are also very beneficial to a well-balanced pond. Fish help keep debris at a minimum and help in controlling larva and other insects. You must keep in mind that fish contribute to the organic matter and add nitrates to the pond with their excrement; so balance is important.

All garden pools regardless of size will need maintenance throughout the year. With proper planning you can ensure a healthy balance between living and decorative features of a water garden so that it can almost care for itself with simple maintenance from you.

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