The Most Common Problems with Ponds in Minnesota

You want a pond, but you might want to know what problems come with a pond before purchasing it…  Good idea!  Dave Ramsey says, “Never buy something you don’t understand.” So, let’s have an honest conversation. 

​What are the most common problems with ponds in Minnesota? In our experience buildingrepairing, and maintaining ponds over the past 15 years, the following six problems make up the bulk of pond problems. 

Six Most Common Pond Problems

  • Algae in the pond​
  • Pond Losing water- leaks
  • Pump issues- Repair or replace that pump?​
  • Animals
  • Freezing pipes
  • ​Settling of liner edges- losing water

Let’s dive into these common pond problems and discuss tried and true solutions.

Algae in your pond is probably the most annoying problem in the water gardener’s life!  It is possible to have a clean, clear pond.  Closely look at the algae in your pond.  Is it long and stringy, clinging to rocks? This is string algae and can be easily controlled by using an IonGen system. For heavy amounts of string algae, sprinkle rock and stream cleaner directly on the algae.

If your algae is small, floating green clouds on the pond surface, you could use an automatic dosing system to add beneficial bacteria regularly. Algae is a plant which feeds on excess nutrition in the water. To reduce the algae in your pond, add aquatic plants, use a bio filter, properly circulate the water, and be careful not to overfeed your fish.  These methods help by reducing nutrients in the water also used by algae.

Losing water is the most common issue we get calls about.  If your pond is losing water it can be simply due to evaporation (averaging 1-3” per day in summer months) or because of sneaky holes requiring leak detection.  Leak checking is a science but anyone can do it.  

When your pond is losing water, the first thing to do is to set up a tape measure and actually measure (not just guess) water loss over a 24 hour period.  Next, visually check the edges of your pond to make sure the liner has not been pushed down anywhere. (This is a pretty common problem.) Some leaks are due to holes from the freeze-thaw cycle. Some leaks are caused by animals chewing through the liner.

Pump issues are fairly common problems with ponds, waterfalls, and fountains but these problems can be greatly reduced by properly sizing your pump. Pumps wear down but because of their cost, it may be worth repairing your pond pump instead of replacing it. 

Animals can cause liner damage by chewing holes. This problem comes from long, snowy winter months when mice or other burrowing animals are tunneling for homes.  Generally, domestic animals like dogs can play and swim in ponds without causing problems other than moving rock and gravel around as they play.  If you want to let your pet swim in the pond, put an extra layer of gravel on the liner to protect it.  Ecosystem ponds are safe for pets because they do not use chlorine or other chemicals to stay clean.

Freezing pipes are the source of “sneaky leaks” in ponds.  The pond looks fine and checks out when tested but water keeps disappearing.  If you have a recirculating pond, the water travels from the pond through a filter into the pump.  Then the water is pushed through a flexible, plastic pipe to the biofilter or waterfall.

This flexible pipe is designed to withstand freezing winters like Minnesota winters.  But, if there is a dip in the pipe, water puddles there and freezes.  A small amount of water will not cause the pipe to break but if there is enough, the ice causes the pipe to split. If your pipe has a split, you will see significant water loss when the pump is running.  Water loss will be minimal while the pump remains off.

Rubber liners are tough and durable, lasting 20-30 years if protected from damaging sun rays. Because the rubber is held in place by rocks and soil which tend to settle, the rubber along pond edges can get squished lower than the water level in the pond.  This is also a very common pond leak problem.  Take a moment to scan the edges of your pond.  Check near the biggest rocks; that is the area which was hardest to place the rubber correctly. Check out this video for more information on how to select the proper liner for your pond.

These six problems cause pond owners the most frustration but can be prevented or repaired. If you think you are experiencing one or more pond problem, please give us a call.  We would be happy to help diagnose and fix the problem so you can enjoy your pond, worry-free!

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