Pond and Lake 101 / The Basics

Each pond and lake is a unique ecosystem. There is no magical cure for pond and lake problems.   It is possible for two ponds, side by side, to have radically different problems. This is why it is essential to understand the causes of the problems, as well as the effects.The factors that affect most ponds and lakes are:

Water Depth
Clarity
Chemical Composition
Sedimentation
Excess Nutrients
Temperature
Water Movement
Excess Plant Growth

Each factor will be addressed and given recommendations on how to improve the lake quality. Keep in mind that each lake is a separate ecosystem, so all of the factors are interrelated.

Water Depth

Water depth is a limiting factor for several types of plants. The deeper the water, the less light will penetrate. Light is a key factor in plant growth.   With water depth that is less than four feet deep; light will penetrate to the lake bottom and can allow excess plant growth. These plant growths are called blooms. Shallow water also heats up quicker and can cause blooms. Deeper lakes may still develop blooms, but they usually occur on the edges where the water is shallower. In summary, the deeper the lake, the better.

Clarity

Water clarity is also a limiting factor for plants. Clarity is a measure of light penetration through the water. The clearer the water, the further light will penetrate.

Chemical Composition

The chemical composition of the water can promote or retard the growth of plants. This is one factor that cannot be easily regulated and in some instances, may be detrimental to do so. The chemical composition of a pond include: pH, alkalinity, conductivity, dissolved solids, nitrogen and phosphorus. All of these factors can be monitored and problems or sources can be identified. If adjustments are necessary, then it is easier to proceed in a way to benefit the ecosystem.

Sedimentation

Sedimentation or erosion of banks, into the water feature can cause many problems. This process will create shallow shelves at the site, once again, promoting blooms. Stabilizing the banks during construction is critical. Stabilization can be accomplished by hydro-seeding the banks or laying sod. If shallow shelves are already present, plants may need to be installed. The use of native aquatic plants can beautify a pond, as well as help absorb nutrients from runoff. Plants should be installed with spacing from one foot centers (quicker establishment) to three foot centers.

lakes and ponds.