Natural Ponds in 2020- How to care for them

How do you keep a natural pond clean with no mechanical filtration?  Two different methods are discussed.

We get many requests for natural pond care to keep them looking clean and beautiful. This type of natural pond, found in your HSA or near a parking lot, typically doesn’t have a rubber liner and doesn’t have any mechanical filtration systems.
With no mechanical systems, how do you keep a natural pond clean?

Below are two methods to maintain a natural pond in 2020 including some ballpark prices. The main difference is speed: think in terms of “microwave speed” or “crock pot speed”.  Each method has its good points and bad points.

Microwave speed Pond Treatments:
One method to clean a natural pond is to add algaecide and other chemicals or add dye and voila! The water looks clear! (Minnesota Waterscapes doesn’t spray these chemicals at this time as it takes a special license, and we prefer to use natural methods.)
Cost: $-$$
Benefits: Typically gives fast results but the treatment must be repeated often (perhaps as often as a rainfall). Plus, consider what the long term results of dumping chemicals and dye into a rain water collection point will do to the water supply. 

Crockpot speed Pond Treatments:
This treatment speed utilizes good (beneficial) bacteria and natural processes to clean the water, making it clear.  It takes much longer, usually a whole growing season or two to establish a good culture of bacteria.
Cost: $$-$$$
Benefits: A natural ecosystem mincing nature, chemical-free ponds safe for pets & wildlife to drink, and a more stable, long-term solution. Let’s break the different working parts of the crockpot method down a bit. To be perfectly honest, the pond will still have algae in it, especially the first year.  Algae is natural but can be controlled.


1. Fountains
Fountains often come up as the first request for cleaning natural ponds.  Fountains circulate the water but they really don’t do much for the pond ecosystem as a whole other than mix the first foot or so of pond water. Fountain prices vary considerably.  The less you spend on your fountain, the more maintenance you will have to do.  You can buy an inexpensive fountain ($200-$1000) but will be spending plenty of time cleaning the screens.
Professional fountains ($1500-$5000+) come with different patterns, lights, and other special features, and have stronger motors.  They can be purchased to fit your pond size and shape.

2. Bacteria
Bacteria is the life of your pond!  Good bacteria convert unwanted chemicals and sediment into helpful nutrients or break them down.  Bacteria will eat the extra nutrition in the water.  It works even better (meaning faster) with aeration and warmer temps.  Lake treatment booster is one bacteria treatment we recommend or can apply for you. I like to think of bacteria treatments like taking vitamins. You don’t see results immediately, but they are there, working for you.

3. Aeration
Aeration is one of the most cost-effective ways to begin the process of eating away at the pond muck near the bottom. It also speeds up the bacteria treatments.  Costs for an aeration system typically start around $3000 (for large ponds) and depend on depth, size, and electricity available near the pond.  Solar power can also be used to run an aeration system. ​

4. Plants
Plants help clean the water by removing nutrients before the algae can!  Plants can be submerged like water lilies, in colorful floating planters on the surface, or planted along the shoreline. To order plants for your pond.

5. Waterfalls, Collection bays, and Jets
We can add a beautiful waterfall, wetland, and collection bay (or intake bay), where the unwanted debris on the water surface is pulled into a catch basin to be manually cleaned as needed.  This very beautiful way to clean the water reduces the muck layer significantly by skimming off leaves before they sink to the bottom.  This type of masterpiece typically begins at $50k and goes up rather quickly. It will bring a big “wow’ to any pond. (Check out this example: Mccannon Farm video)​

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