Can Every Pond Be Restored?

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Pond mountain

You know, we see a lot of pond problems around here.  Algae, weeds, muck, stench, stagnation, all kinds of colors too.

I’m not going to claim we’ve seen it all because nature is a creative force but we’ve seen quite a bit over the years.

And we’ve worked with a lot of ponds.  We’ve helped most, and been frustrated by some.

So we have a lot in common, you and me.

What this is all leading to, is a question that came up recently from a frustrated pond owner, and it’s time we covered it.

Is every pond recoverable?  Can every one be restored?

And this question took me in a lot of different directions.

Keeping in mind that my wife accuses me of an almost crazy level of optimism, my initial answer would have been yes, most any pond can be restored or recovered.  But that’s not entirely true in practical terms.

Let’s start with a small pond for instance.  I think virtually any small pond or water garden can be maintained well and when problems arise they can be corrected or improved upon.  This is not to say there aren’t challenges…we all know how difficult a small pond can be to manage.  But with some approach or tool, or adjustment, almost anything is correctible or manageable.

The big question here, and it’s somewhat similar with larger ponds, is what a person is willing to do to get there.  Some of this might be in relation to cost or expense of course.  But it might also be something as simple, and as hard, as letting a few prized koi fish go when they’re overstocked with too many crammed into a small pond.  This is just one example of many “adjustments” that can only come through experience.

In many cases the biggest difference I see between success or frustration is knowledge of the pond owner.

The most important investment they’ll need to make is to take some time and get educated on how to manage a pond better.  That’s a big reason why this blog even exists, because knowing some basics will go a long way to a better life in and around your pond.  And there are tons of resources online to learn from.

Comparatively though, smaller ponds provide a bit more hope for recovery because there’s more manageable things you can do to help them.  And mechanical pond equipment has been improved over the years to help with a lot of problems.  UV sterilizers are one example that can help with green water.  Better pond filters have come along too.  And of course you still have many long standing things like barley straw to help.

On larger water, things can get a bit more difficult.  Just due to the increase in gallon capacity which can run in the millions of gallons, many things that small pond owners use, now becomes impossible to use in a larger pond.

There are still many options of course, but you’re not going to filter big water.  Nor will something like UV work.  But we do have ultrasound technology which has been amazing at times.  Pond aeration is also a huge tool for improving many conditions in a body of water.

But there’s no question that costs rise for big water.  And sometimes the expense goes beyond what someone can afford to put into a pond.  Additives like beneficial bacteria, and even chemicals can be costly and so it’s not always a  matter of someone not  wanting to improve things, but whether they can afford to do so.

Some ponds are designed poorly from the outset.  We see this a lot with home developments.  A pond is put in to make everything look nicer, but sometimes the contractor will only dig them out a few feet and these shallow waters are notorious for being harder to manage.  They tend to develop algae and weed problems that end up being harder to keep in check.

And then there’s the fact that you have water quality parameters to consider too.  We have a friend out west who’s been fighting an ongoing battle with high pH and alkalinity in a large pond.  This is what nature gave her, but since those numbers are so high, it eliminates a lot of the tools she might use to clear things up.  Adding various things to a pond like lime or gypsum can adjust some of these things, just like you might use a pH adjuster in a small pond, but this isn’t a battle you can fight and win, if you have to adjust things constantly.

So back to the question.  Can every pond be restored?  

And the answer, for me anyway, continues to be a clearcut yes.  

Every single one, in some way or another, could be improved and restored.  We’ve seen some pretty complex reactions take place in water once you get the chemistry right and we’ve seen some of what we though would be the most difficult and challenging conditions improve with relative ease.  

So I guess you could say we never write any pond off or give up on it too quickly.  You often can’t do that and expect the desired result.

But in practical terms maybe a better question is, is every pond worth restoring?  That’s not something I can answer on an individual basis, but you may want to.  In terms of costs, time, energy and all those valuable resources, there are times when I would say that no, they are not worth it in terms of the cost.

And this is from a guy that loves ponds.

But it’s the truth.

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