I am purchasing a home with a beautiful pond, but I have no idea what pond management entails. I am a single female, and while I have no problem doing required maintenance, I would at least like to understand what I am in for and what may be best left to an expert. I sent a list of questions to the sellers a few weeks ago about pond maintenance, but they have yet to respond. I don’t even know the pond’s size. Pics to help estimate the size are attached. All they’ve shared is that it was recently dredged and is about 8ft in the center, 4ft around the edge. It’s also stocked. I’ve identified blue gills so far, some gold fish and lots of frogs, but have no idea of what else may be in there or the population. As for drainage, there’s a wooden sliding drain door that looks like it drains under the driveway, toward the main road. I’m assuming it drains to the nearby creek. I see from this community, I will have no shortage of experts to educate me once I'm settled in the home, so any information that will lead me in the right direction will be great. Thanks for all responses in advance. Here are a few questions I already have.
1. Considering the size, what is a good estimate for annual maintenance on the lowest and highest end? Is it possible (easy) to perform some maintenance myself to keep the pond healthy and costs down? Or best to leave it to the experts?
2. What is typically required for maintenance, on a monthly, annual, seasonal schedule?
3. Is it necessary to have maintenance records and proof from seller that they dredged the pond?
4. The property is located in the Chicago area, so cold weather is a factor. Anything else to consider?
Is there anything else I should know from the sellers other than maintenance? Any info provided is greatly appreciated. Thank you again.
Wow, another person with command and love of our language. Your writing is beautiful, clear, and to the point.
As you have discovered, we can help you with your pond. First of all, congratulations to you for your move to a rural area. You will undoubtedly see abundant opportunities for your interest in and love of wildlife.
In order to realize the potential of your pond, and that of wildlife habitat, it helps to communicate your goals to us. Goals can be rather general at first, then develop in specific directions as you learn more about local habitat. Examples of general goals might be that you'd like to swim in the pond, you'd like a place to fish and have others fish, you'd like to see ducks and other water birds from your picture window, etc.
As time goes by, you may want a picturesque perch alongside the pond to encourage kingfishers or flycatchers to pose for photographs. You might want to develop some rough, natural looking shoreline to add diversity for the overall benefit of wild critters.
Our member RAH has a Facebook page devoted to midwestern wildlife habitat improvement. Check out his stuff.
I didn't answer any of your questions, but rest assured, there are answers for all of them here on the forum. Often, the advice given is simply observe your pond for a period of time. I made no changes to my place for a full year. I fished it, counted muskrats and waterfowl, ice skated the first winter, and learned quite a bit about what I needed to know but didn't.
Remember, there are no silly nor stupid questions. We try to answer all queries with respect. Enjoy your new home.
Shoot me a PM or email with the address, I can look on my satellite program and map the pond area for you. It's very hard to guesstimate the size of the pond from the picture. I can get sort of close if I were to know the dimensions of the outside of the house. I can get REALLY close using the program.
Agreed about the goals. Goals are what YOU want to get from the pond, be it a nice fishery, or just a nice BOW (Body of Water) to look at.
Yes, if you can get the sellers to provide a receipt or even just the name/phone number and date that the pond was dredged, that will help.
I'll try to answer some of the questions.
1) Yes, of course you can do the maintenance yourself. As for costs, it all depends on what you want the water to look like and what your goals are for the pond.
2) If they had maintenance done, and they can tell you who did it, you might be able to call them and ask them what they were doing and what the annual costs were. Costs can be figured a few ways. BUT before going in to prices I need to find out the area of the pond.
3) Maintenance records aren't required, neither is the dredging record, but without it, and if you can't verify the water depth, that might have a bearing on how much the place will sell for. If it is shallow and you have to get it cleaned out it will most likely cost $5K or more. Mostly due to trucking costs to dispose of the spoils and to rebuild the lawn that gets trashed.
4) If a fishery is part of the goal then look into an aeration system for both summer and winter aeration to help prevent a fish kill due to an O2 crash. Since you have a fountain there, if the wire size is large enough you can run both and not have to worry about trenching in wire or air line to the pond for an aeration system. You should yank the fountain out of the pond for the winter. Clean it and do any maintenance over the winter so it's ready to go back in the Spring.
5) To measure the depth of the pond, take the paddle boat out with a cloth/plastic fiber tape measure and a weight. If the paddle-boat is not an option, if you fish, take a fishing rod and a bobber with enough weight to sink the bobber. Cast to different areas of the pond, adjusting the depth of the bobber so it won't sink. Measure the pond depth that way to verify you are being told what happened, not what you want to hear. When I bought this place I didn't verify what I was told. 12' deep pond turned into 6' depth really quick with the majority of it only about 18"-2' depth during a drought.
Seeing goldfish with lots of frogs and reduced amounts of shoreline vegetation means the fishery does not have enough numbers of largermouth bass who control goldfish and reduce frog numbers unless there is lots of marginal and submerged vegetation. From your pictures vegetation seems to be well under control. Reproducing goldfish without significant population control will eventually transform the pond into muddy murky water which is probably not something you envision for a backyard pond. Review the above suggestions, reply, and we can provide lots of additional expert, well experienced advice.
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