Reviewing the Pondology series for topics to update, it struck me that most entries were about pond troubles. That makes sense since my work often focuses on construction challenges and general trouble shooting. But what about the pleasures of ponds? People don't build or buy ponds just to overcome problems. It's time to revisit the reasons people love ponds in the first place. I wasn't smitten by ponds years ago just for the chance to fix them up!
Let's start with the main reasons people love ponds, and in future months I'll go into detail about each topic, with details orthodox and new.
Recreation is one of the primary reasons people build a pond or buy property with one. "I want a pond that I can swim in," is one of the most common objectives I hear. Not to overlook swimming for children and grandchildren. Then there's skating. In the north the winters can feel long and confining. Getting out on the ice for
hockey, figure skating, or the sheer pleasure of gliding over frozen water makes winter something to look forward to, not dread. For you or your kids, a pond for swimming or skating is a recreation destination just a few steps from the front door. And the reduction in driving is good for carbon offsets! Did I mention curling?
Water is visual magic. It can change an ok view into something beautiful, mesmerizing, relaxing, meditative. A pond has the power to transform the land. Try to find a country living magazine or landscaping book without pictures of water.
Irrigation and Livestock Water
Whether you're a commercial grower or a backyard gardener, plants need water. Fruit trees and shrubs too. Ponds are a reliable water source for all stages of plant growth, and in a drought they can prevent crop failure. Don't forget spray irrigation to stop frost damage. Your animals also need water, and ponds have long been used for backyard and commercial critter water. Sometimes cattle or other animals have direct access to a pond, or water is gravity piped or pumped to a watering trough.
Ponds can increase the value of a country property. You see ponds prominently mentioned in real estate ads. And as permitting restrictions make pond construction tougher in some areas, the value of an existing pond becomes even greater. You also find "Good site for a pond" in many property ads.
One traditional use for a country pond is fire protection. In fact some town zoning ordinances require a fire pond for certain housing developments. Household insurance premiums may be reduced if the house is near a pond accessible to fire department equipment. Some towns and states offer financial support or equipment for fire pond development. Increasingly, fire ponds are valued for forest fire control as well as home protection.
In some parts of the country, fish ponds are at the top of the list. Not so much in Vermont, where trout is the only stocked fish allowed, and so much of the pond year is ice covered. But even in Vermont, ponds are highly valued for fly fishing. And whether it's trout or bass or other fish (carp, catfish, tilapia, etc.), fish and ponds are virtually synonymous. People grow fish for sport catching and release, and food, and recreation. Fishing is something a lot of pond owners want to do with their kids and grandkids. Fishing certainly has great potential to get kids (and everyone else) away from computers and phones.
Wildlife Habitat and Attraction
A pond is a wildlife magnet. By adding a pond you'll add potential for visits from waterfowl (ducks, geese, kingfishers, herons, and more), and songbirds and flycatchers swooping over the water to catch flies (including mosquitoes). A duck box or two on shoreland trees may attract wood ducks or mergansers to stay the season to raise their young. Some pond owners build islands to attract nesting geese and other waterfowl, often for seasonal game hunting. Watch for deer and moose drop-ins for a drink or a swim. And if for some reason you never see a trace of wildlife (unlikely), you're likely to hear one of my pond favorites: the spring and summer chorus of bullfrogs and peepers.
Sit beside a pond on a summer evening when the countryside is quiet, and it's possible to imagine living in an earlier, simpler time. Unlike homes with electricity added, roads with cars added, pockets with phones added, lakes with jet skis added, ponds haven't changed much in hundreds, thousands of years. Temple shrines, monastery fish ponds, mill ponds. One earthen basin full of water, some fish, a stream splashing in and out. It could be long long ago. Your pond is a portal to another time.
Topics vary from month to month and provide great information when researching where you want to build a pond, or how to keep it clean. Other areas of interest are pond use for more than swimming, and how to keep fish happy in your pond.