Our first pond, stream, and waterfalls

Pond and stream(Enlarge)  ©Janet Allen
A view of the pond and stream from the roof

For our first pond, we bought an Aquascape system. According to their literature, the essential parts of our pond ecosystem were plants, fish, the rocks and gravel, the BioFalls/Skimmer/pipe circulation system, and the addition of beneficial bacteria.

As we look back, it's truly amazing that this pond worked out so well.

We didn't know anything at all about building water features. And even more important, we didn't know anything about aquatic plants or what types of creatures might visit.

Here's how we built the pond, how we've maintained it, and how it has evolved in the years since it was built in 2002.

Water features

Edge of pond  ©Janet AllenWe tried to make the edge easy to climb into … and especially out of

We've tried to approximate a natural system as much as possible.

It's distressing to see so many merely ornamental water features installed in home landscapes—feature that are generally not only not wildlife-friendly, but sometimes actively wildlife-UNfriendly. We've even heard of people who discard the long strings of "unsightly" toad eggs!

We hope ours has more environmental benefits than negatives.

The negatives

Pond pump  ©Janet Allen
The pump in the pond skimmer

The biggest negative is that it requires electricity to pump the water around to operate the stream. This is distressing since we're gravely concerned about the climate.

We've looked into solar energy for the pond circulation system, but there weren't any systems (in any way affordable) that would move water around to the extent required.

We've minimized our energy use in all sorts of ways in our home, in our garden, and in our transportation choices. We work hard to conserve energy, including purchasing "green" wind energy from our utility company since this option was first introduced, coincidentally, just about the same time we created our pond.

(But we have also built another pond that doesn't require any energy.)

Water use: When it's hot and hasn't rained in a while, we do have to add water. But aside from the edible garden, we otherwise don't use much water in our landscape. We don't water the lawn or anything other than newly-transplanted plants. (And we seldom wash our car …)

The positives

Toad singing  ©Janet Allen
A toad singing his musical song

The HUGE plus of our pond and stream, though, is that we're providing habitat for an expanded range of plants and animals.

We've been surprised and thrilled to see that dragonflies and damselflies visit our yard, that migrating birds use our yard as a stopover spot, and especially that toads serenade us in the spring as they mate in our pond.

Although we initially followed Aquascape's recommended cleaning schedule, we now limit our cleaning so we aren't removing dragonfly larvae and all the smaller—even microscopic—creatures that live there. Like the rest of our yard, creating an "ooh and aah" decorative landscape isn't our priority.

Waterfall  ©Janet Allen
Waterfall in fall

Not to be discounted is that our water habitat increases our knowledge of and deepens our connection to yet another aspect of the natural world—and strengthens our commitment to heal and defend the earth.

We also find that this additional habitat feature is so interesting and it increases our personal well-being so much that it eliminates a lot of car trips to go "visit" nature or to travel to other places for amusement. And I think this is a non-trivial outcome.