Water Features At A Glance

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI


Every lake, stream and pond has a unique environment. Each body of water has its own unpredictable behavior patterns. This face makes maintenance of these water features far more complicated than just simply treating your lakes, streams or ponds with some magic potion and walking away. With ten different water features, two might look “perfect” all the time and need very little maintenance. Three of them might be exceptionally difficult to maintain, and five might need simple preventive maintenance. It is the problematic ones that cause homeowners to throw up their hands and seek a specialist who possesses the ability to address problematic aquatic environment.

Homeowners with deep pockets can treat smaller aquatic features like swimming pools, so long as you expect nothing to live in them. If the feature does not have any aquatic plant life, fish, fowl or other wildlife on a regular basis, chlorine can be used and the system flushed with clean, sterile water. This would preclude more natural solutions in favor of using harsh chemicals resulting in a dramatic increase in your water bills and an unbalanced aquatic environment. Who wants that?

The other, and more favorable, solution would be to seek and hire a licensed aquatic professional to assess your individual issue(s). You want someone who understand how to balance both the natural and artificial aspects of your lake, pond or stream in addition to just “making it look pretty”. Taking the most cost-effective, lasting measures to restore your lake, stream or pond the aquatic professional will want to introduce certain steps to solve your problem. In addition to being necessary, just doing the basics – aeration, filtration, physical maintenance and pest management will go a long way in solving and eliminating problems in your water feature. Also, included in thesebasics would be the introduction of beneficial bacteria and enzymes, aquatic plants, fish and even some algae. The well-rounded professional will also want to apply products that reduce foam, clarify water, eliminate algae and bring color to an otherwise drab lake, stream or pond. These are but a few of the actions your professional may take to restore the beauty to your water feature.

When looking for an aquatic professional, make sure that they are licensed and reputable. Be sure to ask questions about their background and expertise. You want someone who is both knowledgeable and action oriented, but also someone who has been in the industry long enough to have seen various aquatic issues and can better determine a solution tailored to your specific water feature dilemma. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your aquatic specialist that are directly related to your particular lake, pond or stream issue.

Man-made lakes, streams and ponds are just as problematic as natural lakes, streams and ponds. In urban environments, both types of water are prone to runoff land with soaps, oils, greases, phosphates, nitrogen, organic materials and minute plant life.

Listed below are two actions, to avoid, that can result in lakes, streams and/or ponds becoming unsightly, odiferous and difficult to keep under control.

  • Runoff from highly fertilized landscapes, vehicles being washed and debris draining into the waterscapes after a hard rain brings nutrients into the water features resulting in excessive algae growth, unbalanced water and an odor, leaving the water very unappealing to the eyes and nose.
  • The positioning of trees near the water, trimmings being dumped into the water features, branches and leaves falling into the aquatic environment. Debris from tress is a major source of nutrients staying in the water; these nutrients increase the growth of algae and are also a source of that black sludge you see on the bottom. The depth of the sludge will increase as the years pass and you’ll find your lakes, streams or ponds having more sludge than water, resulting in an unsightly and odorous mess. For some odd reason, landscapers and homeowners alike seem to feel dumping trimmings, leaves, baby diapers, chairs, trash and other odd assortments of items into the water features is not going to have an adverse affect.

All of these actions have an affect on your water feature and none of these contaminants are beneficial to a water feature. They make bad things grow and they also make good things grow to the point where they are considered a nuisance.

Whether this aquatic environment is man-made or natural, “nature” will still be at work. From time to time, nature or humanity, may wreak havoc, similar to what’s mentioned above but, the resulting displeasing look can be eradicated and the water restored to an aesthetically pleasing appearance and nose pleasing smell.

There are a variety of tools that can be used to deal with tricky water features, some work as promised, but no single step is a complete solution. The best approach is to restore the natural balance by doing those previously mentioned “basics”, managing the nutrient levels, establishing a proper balance of fish species, and removing the amount of debris by using manual labor, water treatment products and/or necessary equipment. The trick is to not create a new problem by using only one solution.

Just follow the basics. Remember, when those basics are used together, they are the solutions to your troubled water. Lastly, remember, an aquatic problem cant’ be “fixed” by making one change, or using one “magic” solution and moving on. The problems, most likely, will be ongoing and have to be solved as long as your water feature exists. So take care of that waterscape just as you do your landscape and when those problems arise take comfort in the knowledge that where there is a problem, there also is a solution and the result is a breathtaking water feature!

Posted on April 13, 2014 and filed under Water Feature, Pond Maintenance.