Many pond owners enjoy the beauty and interest their pond adds to their home landscape—not to mention the relaxing, soothing sounds of any stream or waterfall features. Add to it all an extra benefit—owning a pond is good for the environment—in several ways. Here are 5 of them.
1. Water conservation
Lawns require watering, while ponds can be re-filled with rainwater. Maintaining a lush lawn requires regular watering; otherwise, it can quickly lose its luster and become burnt out. Therefore, homeowners spend countless hours and thousands of gallons of water each year watering their lawns. Regular lawn watering uses 750-1,500 gallons of water each month.
Conversely, once a pond is initially filled, pond owners will need to “top off” the pond only occasionally. If you live in a part of the country that experiences a lower than normal season of rainfall, consider positioning drain pipes from your roof top to empty directly into the pond, allowing the pond to act as a natural reservoir.
A side benefit—lower utility costs, especially in the summer months with hotter-than-usual temperatures. It can be difficult to find a happy medium between lowering costs, conserving water and maintaining a beautiful garden—but owning a pond helps accomplish all three!
Ponds offer a self-sustaining cycle of hydration that keeps plants alive without having to water them.
For those interested in conserving water, ponds and water gardens are the best landscaping option. Because shrubs, flowers and plants based in soil require constant watering, a household’s water consumption can easily increase dramatically. Alternatively, through rainfall, ponds and water gardens literally water themselves, helping to save water.
Additionally, pond water can be used to water other plants in the garden, therefore conserving water by eliminating the use of the garden hose. Simply dip a watering can into the pond to care for other plants and trees throughout the yard.
2. Less mowing, fewer pollutants
Less mowing means less use of gas and reduced carbon monoxide emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of air pollutants.
Garden equipment engines emit high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution—and a good deal more in metropolitan areas. A traditional gas-powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars, each being driven 12,000 miles. Lastly, over 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year refueling lawn and garden equipment—more oil than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez in the Gulf of Alaska. This adds to groundwater contamination and smog. (Source: Environmental Protection Agency)
3. Fewer pesticides and fertilizers
Pesticides and fertilizers for the lawn can be harmful, creating runoff that ends up in our water supply.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that only 35 percent of lawn fertilizers applied ever reach the grass plant; the remainder ends up in our air or seeps into groundwater. During a typical year in neighborhoods across the country, over 102 million pounds of toxic pesticides are applied in pursuit of a perfect lawn and garden. Commonly used lawn pesticides can cause illness by entering our drinking water through run-off. (Source: The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns)
Adding a pond or water garden to your yard will also save you money on purchasing costly fertilizer for your plants, trees and flowers. You can use sludge collected by your pond filter as a nutrient-rich fertilizer around the bottom of a tree, plant or shrub to aid in growth. With nutrients from fish droppings, excess fish food and decaying leaves, it’s an all-natural way to feed your landscape!
4. Supports local wildlife
Adding a pond or water garden to your yard not only adds beauty to your yard, but it also supports the indigenous wildlife in your neighborhood. Ponds attract and create a haven for beautiful fish, dragonflies, frogs and birds, adding to wildlife propagation.
For years, pond owners have been adding beautiful fish (such as Koi and goldfish) to their pond for the enjoyment and relaxation of observing. In addition to fish, ponds and water gardens attract other creatures, providing a sanctuary for breeding. Frogs, especially, gather at the pond as it provides a shelter for reproducing in the spring and summer. Baby frogs and toads (known as tadpoles) are generally a desirable pond inhabitant for their algae-eating habits. Adult toads are also beneficial to the garden for their aid in controlling insects.
5. Creates environmental awareness
Our fifth environmental benefit of adding a pond or water garden to your yard affects many generations to come! Water gardens influence young people to help create a better future for the planet.
Including children in the building of a water garden or pond helps them gain an interest in science and environmental issues. Water gardens are complete ecosystems, which educate children on how natural systems work, which can influence them to help create a better planet. Getting kids involved and thinking about nature early in life encourages them to continue their interest in the environment throughout adulthood. Planning, building and maintaining a pond or water garden also helps children understand the responsibility we all have for caring for our environment.
ARS Landscape Materials & Supply, Denver, Colorado