What is a Natural Pond?
The term natural pond can be defined on several levels. On a very basic level, a natural pond is one that exists in nature – one that is not man-made. That is certainly a very good description, but natural ponds can also be man-made, in which case they exist without the use of pumps, filters or chemicals. The pond may or may not have a liner to hold in water, but other than this everything else about the pond is controlled and managed by nature.
Nature is very good about maintaining a balanced ecosystem. There is harmony between the water, plants, animals and even the microbes. Every part of the pond plays a role in keeping it in balance. Animals and bacteria produce nutrients as part of their waste products. These nutrients are used by plants and algae as a food source, allowing them to grow. As plant parts die, they provide food for microbes. If any one of these elements gets out of balance, nature has a way of rebalancing things.
The goal for a natural pond is to have a balanced ecosystem. In such as a system, there are no major changes.. An insect may be eaten, but it is replaced with another. Some organisms die, but as they decompose they provide life for new organisms. No one single organism becomes so dominant that it takes over the pond. The water chemistry is stable without large changes in pH and oxygen levels. This is important since every organism has a preferred set of environmental conditions. If the pH level changes too much, a specific organism may leave or die. If all of the mosquitoes suddenly die, the frogs have nothing to eat. The heron in turn has to try and survive on skinny frogs. The pond is no longer in balance.
One of the major problems of most ponds is the growth of algae. Some algae is actually good for the pond, but too much causes an imbalance in the ecosystem which in turn leads to other problems. Too much algae is also an aesthetic problem. We don’t like looking at it.
A balanced ecosystem will have small amounts of algae present. A combination of other organisms and environmental conditions will keep the algae from taking over the pond. If one of these controlling factors becomes out of balance, the algae will take over the pond. As pond builders it is our job to create a pond in such a way that it can become balanced and then stay balanced without pumps, filters or chemicals.
A natural pond is also a pond that looks natural - it looks as if man did not build it. There are many design considerations that go into building a natural looking pond and making the right decisions is key to having the end result look as if nature built it. The location, the shape, the type of materials used and even the selected plants are critical.
A natural pond looks and functions as if nature designed it. The real benefit of this kind of pond is that it requires virtually no maintenance. After adding water and plants you can sit back and enjoy it. No electricity bills, no weekly testing of water conditions, no filters to clean and nothing to buy. A natural pond will run all by itself.