Pond management help available

Paul McKenzie, N.C. Cooperative Extension
Jul. 21, 2014 @ 11:30 AM

Ponds are a thing of great beauty, and when you live in the country, having a pond to gaze upon is coveted by many, this writer included. However, if you speak to those who already have one, they may be tempted to describe it as a big hole in the ground into which you pour money.

There is, of course, the initial cost of construction which, if the pond is properly designed, will be formidable. Regrettably, the costs do not end there since, as with any asset, ongoing maintenance is vital.

First, there’s the monitoring and maintenance of the physical infrastructure, e.g. the dam, banks, overflow pipe and emergency spillway. Key things to watch for are obstructions, erosion and animal damage. Beavers, muskrats and Canada geese, for example, can be a real nuisance.

Many pond owners seem to prefer the neatly manicured look, mowing the banks closely right up to the edge. However, allowing some brushy growth around the edge will help immensely with reducing bank erosion and sedimentation. It will also help absorb nutrients that might flow into the pond and feed aquatic weeds. Mowing once or twice a year will keep trees saplings and brambles from getting out of hand. But consider limiting the weekly mowing to a couple of small access areas for fishing, canoeing, etc.

Further, at some point in the life of a pond (and perhaps at numerous points), you will have to contend with aquatic weeds. There are many different species of aquatic plants that can become troublesome, interfering with irrigation pumps, fishing and other activities.

Managing pond weeds requires time, labor and money. The products required can be pricey, and the application can take a fair amount of time plus special equipment. Given the potential cost of treating a pond, correct identification of the weed is critical.

In spite of the potential hassles, ponds can add an awful lot of beauty to your homestead, and provide countless hours of pleasure. And fortunately, there are resources available to help you navigate the potential pitfalls.

For information about construction and maintaining the infrastructure, the local Soil and Water Conservation District can be a big help. They partner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide technical advice on many pond issues.

If wildlife becomes a nuisance, feel free to contact your local Cooperative Extension Office. I’ll be right over in my Landrover, with a lasso and leather hat. Or at the very least I can offer some helpful advice, and maybe refer you to someone who actually does have a lasso and leather hat.

Your Cooperative Extension Office can also assist with identifying pond weeds such as hydrilla, water lilies and algae (a.k.a. moss). Some weeds have close look-a-likes that require completely different treatment approaches. So give us a call for instructions on submitting a sample (even better, invite us out for an on-site inspection, the fishing pole in the truck is purely coincidental!).

In fact, pond owners would be wise to inspect for weeds once or twice a year. Keep in mind that many troublesome types of weeds stay below the surface. A good technique is to rake the bottom a few feet out from shore and see if anything comes come up.

Lastly, if your pond has an abundance of frying sized catfish, I’m pleased to offer catfish removal services at very reasonable rates.