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Oak leaves in pond
#531176 02/28/21 01:41 PM
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I have an area on my property that I am thinking about having a pond built someday. I want to leave some of the existing trees to provide some shade. I have mostly Maples and poplars, with a few pin oaks mixed in.
My question is :
Will the oak leaves create enough tannins to cause an issue (fish kill), in a pond about 1 acre with an average depth of 8ft ?

I am asking this because I dug a small frog pond last summer (10-12 ft diameter x 3.5 ft deep), on the edge of my yard, with an oak tree right next to it. This Fall, the oak leaves were all through it and the water turned a dark tea color. It did not seem to hurt the frogs, but I really don't know. I was still seeing some when the water was tea color, but I feel that most of them moved out or started to hibernate in the mud, because it was already cold when the leaves started to fall.

Re: Oak leaves in pond
zap #531179 02/28/21 01:52 PM
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Tannin leached from tree leaves will not be your problem with tree leaves in the new pond. Leaf problems are mainly two fold: 1. water soaked and sunken tree leaves and all wind blown organic materials in the pond contribute to muck accumulation which prematurely ages the pond by filling it in with dead organic materials. I have seen tree leaves in a wooded area pond accumulate about 1ft of leaves per year. 2. decomposing leaves consume dissolved oxygen(DO) and is directly proportional to the amount of leaf input. The leaf caused DO loss is additive to the regular DO loss caused by normal biological activity in the pond. Most DO loss in a pond you are proposing will be in Mid-summer and late winter especially after snow has been in the pond for more than 4 weeks. If you Mercer County get lake effect snows, you better be digging the pond 16ft -20ft deep with steep sides to improve DO stability during winter especially in later years of the pond.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/28/21 01:58 PM.

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Re: Oak leaves in pond
zap #531180 02/28/21 02:11 PM
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Hi zap- I'm located in NE Ohio and have a small, 1/4 surface acre pond with White Spruce, White Pine, Pin Oak, native Willow, Maple and even Bald Cypress within 20' (or less) of the pond. I've had leaves enter the pond for quite a few years and while I occasionally see a small fish kill- maybe 3 or 4 fish total per season- I doubt that it's related to the Oak leaves. I've definitely seen the tannin staining the water that you refer to. I think the bigger concern would be the accumulation of organic material (leaves) on the pond bottom and the resultant muck it creates. The muck removes dissolved oxygen from the water, can produce hydrogen sulfide gas, and both conditions are of course bad. (There was one benefit of starting aeration and releasing the hydrogen sulfide gas from the accumulated muck-- it led to the demise of a few muskrats! But I also unknowingly placed the fish at risk in the process due to inexperience and knowledge of proper aeration startup- another subject...should have read more in the PBF before starting aeration!! LOL!)

I've become more concerned with eliminating muck in our pond so I've added pond aeration and I intend to remove a Maple, white pine and a willow that are the biggest contributors of leaves to the pond at present. I would rather not remove the pin oak that drops a lot of leaves now that it's 50' tall. So the jury is still out on the Pin Oak. I don't know about your experience with wind, but over the last 15 years I've noticed a significant change in the frequency of wind direction from primarily W/SW to a more prevalent E/SE. In my case this aggravates the leaf introduction to the pond due to the trees' locations. Just keep in mind the leaves once in the pond will become muck and will accumulate year after year. So you will have to choose what you value more-- or determine a tradeoff. Welcome to PBF BTW!

Re: Oak leaves in pond
zap #531182 02/28/21 02:23 PM
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One additional thought regarding leaf introduction to your future pond- if much or most of the leaves don't drop directly from the trees into the pond location, i.e., they are wind blown after the leaves are on the ground- you may be able to reduce leaf introduction by planting shoreline plants to act as a sort of barrier/catch. You would still put extra nutrients into the water by trapping the leaves near the shoreline, but at least you wouldn't be putting nearly as much organic material directly into the pond to become muck. Just another thought that might allow you to keep some of the nearby trees. OTOH, if the trees are mature and tower directly over the proposed pond location, then you're sort of stuck with considering tree removal. As Mr. Cody said, allowing large leaf introduction into your pond will "age" the pond quickly and not lead to good water quality for your fish.

Re: Oak leaves in pond
zap #531183 02/28/21 03:11 PM
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Thanks for the replies. It looks like I will be having most of them removed when the time comes.
And Neopond, I like the barrier idea.

Re: Oak leaves in pond
zap #531193 02/28/21 05:31 PM
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I agree with Neopond. The best way to "save" your big oak tree and have a healthy pond is to trap the leaves.

I would also consider terrestrial plants and place them to act like a "snow fence". Many of the leaves will get blown over your plants and then stack up as a drift behind your snow fence. (You may then have to do some leaf removal - before a wind other than your prevailing wind swirls them into your pond.)

Use whatever plantings that would be attractive to your pond landscaping goals. Dense evergreens, a hedge planting, lilac bushes etc.

You can get some get info for proper planning by researching "snow fences". If you really want to do it right, search the net for planting windbreaks. We have been doing that for a hundred years in the Great Plains to shelter our fields and houses!

Re: Oak leaves in pond
zap #531199 02/28/21 07:21 PM
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If the trees are close enough to the pond that it will require heavy equipment running over their roots (think of roots going out from the tree as far as the branches go out) then remove the tree. It will most likely die anyway from the heavy equipment running over the roots. Maybe not right away, but I've seen trees die up to 7 years afterwards........


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Re: Oak leaves in pond
esshup #531235 03/01/21 09:52 AM
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Got it, I understand the drip line. Thanks for all the tips everyone !

Re: Oak leaves in pond
zap #531263 03/01/21 01:48 PM
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Situation here is that all the Live Oak leaves froze, now we have a strong norther blowing...I have the leaves of a whole grove of trees dumped in the pond overnight. Trash pump de-mucking once we fix all the sheetrock in the house.


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