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Building a Pond or Dugout? Consider This!

What to consider when building your Canadian Pond, Dugout, or Small Lake! 

As the new year is upon us, you might start thinking about your spring and summer projects. If building a new backyard pond, or dugout is part of your plan, consider the following to make sure your pond is constructed correctly for its intended use and how to properly maintain it!

Intended use of this new pond or dugout:

The intended use of the pond and dugout is going to greatly influence how it is constructed.

Will this pond stock fish?

If the intended use of the pond or dugout is to stock fish, such as trout, it is important to ensure the pond is dug to a minimum of 12-15 ft. Trout are cold-water fish that thrive in deeper ponds. In the summer when the temperatures warm up, your pond heats up too. The coldest water is found at the bottom of the pond, which is where trout will be to stay cool. Improperly constructed ponds that are too shallow can quickly warm up to lethal conditions for your fish during the hot summer months. Fish ponds will also require aeration to ensure adequate oxygen for the fish to survive. Aeration also works far more efficiently in deeper ponds, so if you are digging your pond or dugout for the purpose of stocking fish, dig deep! Consider how many fish you are stocking (for example, we recommend 100 trout to a 100ft x 100ft area). 

Will this pond be used for recreational swimming?

Recreational ponds can be a lot of fun if they are built right and maintained. No one likes to swim in a shallow, mucky, algae and weed-ridden pond, several years down the road. Therefore, it is important to put together a game plan and budget for maintaining the pond, so it can function as a beautiful recreational pond for years to come. A great option for many swimming ponds is to line it once it is dug. A pond liner can prevent leaching and protect from loose soils and hinders root system development.

If you ask any of our Pond Pro experts, we will all tell you that the best long-term solution to maintain a healthy aquatic environment is to look into an aeration system. Aeration will add oxygen to the pond to stimulate a productive ecosystem that will keep muck and sludge accumulation at a minimum.

Lastly, if you are considering treating a swimming pond with chemical treatments, always ensure they are safe for natural ponds! Never plan to treat a pond with chlorine or bleach. Pond Pro offers numerous safe and natural treatments that are very safe for recreational ponds!

Is this dugout used to water livestock?

Farm dugouts are invaluable parts of many livestock operations. If you plan to add a livestock watering dugout to your operation consider the following:

  • With livestock comes manure. The input of manure into a pond/dugout results in the accumulation of nutrients in the pond which consequently result in weed and algae blooms
  • The risk of harmful bacteria and algae entering the water. Manure can contain pathogens such as E.coli, which can end up in the water very quickly. Always plan ahead to have your water tested to prevent risk of illness. Blue-green algae is also a common occurrence in farm dugouts due to the excess amounts of nutrients in the pond. Blue-green algae can release toxins that can be deadly to people, pets, fish, and livestock. Learn how to identify blue-green algae blooms and look at preventive and/or reactive measures to rid the algae. Aeration is highly recommended to prevent algae and reduce coliform counts. This can ensure the safety of your livestock. Aeration has also been shown to improve weight gain in cattle!

Is this pond designed to be a decorative backyard feature?:

Decorative backyard ponds can be the heart of your backyard when constructed correctly. Liners are recommended for small backyard ponds to ensure proper water retention. The general calculation used to figure out how much liner your pond needs is:

  • Maximum length + (2 x maximum depth of pond) x maximum width + (2 x maximum depth) with the overlay added into the length and width pond measurements.

If you also plan on having fish such as Koi, dig it at least 3-4 ft to prevent overheating in the summer and total freezing in the winter. Finally, consider how you are going to keep this pond clean and healthy. For most small backyard ponds, look into koi aeration systems, or highly efficient filters and water circulation pumps to keep the pond clean, prevent stagnant water, and add oxygen.

Pond Location

Once you determine what your intended use for the pond is, figure out where this pond or dugout will go and consider the following points:

Possible spring runoff from nearby fields, roads, etc.:

  • Run-off results in excess nutrients contaminating bodies of water, resulting in turbidity, weed and algae growth, and odors.

Trees and other sources of organics surrounding the pond:

  • Trees can provide shade to keep the pond cool during the hot summer months, however, it can also result in additional organic matter entering the pond resulting in tannin buildup, muck accumulation, weeds and algae, and odors.

Nearest power source:

  • Aeration and/or water circulation/ filtration is always recommended to maintain a healthy pond. Therefore, it is important to consider how you will power such units. Solar and wind powered options are available for some units but not all. In addition to this, renewable energy sources are costly to purchase and not always the most efficient or reliable. In Canada, we do recommend electric options to ensure the reliability of aeration. Pond Pro’s Can-Air systems are designed with highly efficient electric compressors that cost around $10-20/month to operate.

Finally, a plan should be established to think about how you will maintain the health of your newly constructed pond. A big part of this plan is setting a budget:

Good quality aeration systems, such as Can-Air systems or Robust-Aire systems are considered to be long-term investments that have an upfront cost. These systems are designed to aerate your pond for years to come with very minimal maintenance (rebuilding your compressor every 18 months). With continuous aeration, you can almost eliminate the need for costly pond products such as algaecides, conditioners, and flocculants. Preventive maintenance is always more budget-friendly and less work than reactive measures. Old ponds that have suffered without treatment or aeration can quickly turn into a very costly and time-consuming project. If you are thinking about constructing a new pond, think about how your budget can include a quality aeration system and maintenance treatments such as beneficial bacteria to keep your new pond beautiful and healthy for years to come!

This is not a complete list, but it can act as a guide to help highlight some points to consider. Always call before you dig and check with your local bylaws and environmental regulation prior to starting your next pond project. Contact us at sales@pondpro.ca at any time if you have questions or concerns about pond health and maintenance!