Help Me Love My Pond


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Hello everyone!

My name is Matt. You can see my brief introduction here.

Location: North Carolina
Hardiness Zone: 7b
Approximate Pond Size: 7' x 4.5' x 1'
Pump: 400GPH
Filter: Universal Box with Coarse/Fine filters and some Bio-Balls
Waterfall Spillway: 8"

The History
I inherited this pond in 2016 when I purchased my home. At the time I had zero interest in it. The pump was broken. It had plants in it that I had no clue what they were, other than lilies. Although, I still might be mistaken. The whole area was very low on the priority list for a new home owner.

July 2017
This is the only picture I have from when it was "thriving" and the only reason I took this picture is because I finally saw the frog that I had been hearing jump in every time I would walk by.
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March 2018
All that green, yeah it's now brown and decaying at the bottom of the pond, but whatever that one plant is won't give up. It just keeps wanting to come back. Plus there was some algae starting to grow maybe?
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Last Half of 2018
The last half of the year we had a couple hurricanes and tropical storms roll through. During one of them, or maybe a combination, the rain was so bad it eroded down the sides and underneath that some of the surrounding rocks fell in the voids puncturing a hole in the liner. So it sat through winter, waterless, filled with the remains of decomposing water plants. It was so bad I don't even have pictures.

April 2019
I was tired of it being there. I was ready to give up and fill it in. I removed the surrounding rock, tossed all the old plant material in the brush pile and removed the liner. Gazing down into this huge hole in my front yard I realized I'd rather try to love this pond rather than filling it in. Some light touches with a blow torch to reshape the liner and some RTV sealed up the hole nicely. I was able to dig out the erosion and form fit it better so that water now flows over and not underneath. Tossed in a pump, filter and spillway (details at top of post.) Figured out that the one plant that would not die is a rhizome so I was able to grab a couple pieces out of the brush pile to put in fabric pots hoping the plant would stay contained and not take over again....
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April 2021
....I was WRONG. It took over again and in no time the pond looked like the first pic in this post. So over the weekend I cleaned everything out. Cleaned the filters. Got the waterfall running again and here is how it sits currently.
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What To Do Now?
Landscaping aside, I'm looking for advice as to what to start looking into as far as plants and possibly small fish. I work from home now so basic maintenance can be performed regularly. Although, I am looking for features and creatures that are relatively low maintenance. I don't expect to have my hand held. I love to research, but I want to cut down on researching in non-relevant directions based on what will grow in my zone and ease of maintenance.

Just brainstorming I'm thinking using the fabric planters for a couple underwater plants for fish to hide. Something that wont easily grow out of the planters. Then for overhead cover some floating plants, though from my initial research they're usually suited for zones 9+ while I'm 7b.

I really appreciate any help to point me in the right direction. Thank you!

PS: If anyone knows what that rhizome plant is and wants some I'll put them in a bucket of rainwater for you. I'm in Thomasville, NC if you want to pick them up. Otherwise they're getting composted.
 
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addy1

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Welcome to the forum!

That looks like pickerel rush, it does take over if not contained. I have had some for 9ish years, kept in pots. It looks real nice in the picture, looks like it is in pots. I would leave some of it.
 

addy1

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A pond lily would look great, kept in a pot. Try to get one that has a small spread.
Most pond plants will take over if not controlled.
 
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I would set up a small bog garden in that notch by the house to overflow into the pond - look at the thread in the building forum. That would make it lower maintenance. Do what addy says about plants (always do what addy says). Fill the ledges with potted plants - put a couple of lilies deep. Throw in two goldfish -- paradise
 

j.w

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@MisterKrazee
I think you would be happier w/a small water lily as @addy1 suggested. Maybe a few Shubunkin goldfish or other type to keep the skeeters at bay and free fertilizer of the plant. You will just divide the lily when it gets too big for it's pot and give away the extra parts of the tuber. We can help you know how to plant it and divide it correctly.
 
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Welcome to the forum!

That looks like pickerel rush, it does take over if not contained. I have had some for 9ish years, kept in pots. It looks real nice in the picture, looks like it is in pots. I would leave some of it.
Thank you @addy1 It sure does look like pickerel rush. The pictures of them in the pots are old pics before the most recent takeover. LOL
I just went out and saved some from the brush pile to replant. I'm going to let it grow to flowering to get a more positive ID. If it certainly is pickerel rush then pruning won't be a problem since the seeds and young shoots are edible, old shoots should be boiled. (If talking about that is against the rules I'll edit out the edible part.)

I would set up a small bog garden in that notch by the house to overflow into the pond - look at the thread in the building forum. That would make it lower maintenance. Do what addy says about plants (always do what addy says). Fill the ledges with potted plants - put a couple of lilies deep. Throw in two goldfish -- paradise
@Crimedog I'll check out doing a little bog garden. It's not priority, just trying to get some plants in there so Mr. Frog has a place to live again. I don't think he likes living under the rocks at the moment. When you say overflow into the pond I'm assuming it would be a living replacement for the spillway? If so, I'd really like that better. The spillway is a pain and not very attractive. Haha.

I think you would be happier w/a small water lily as @addy1 suggested. Maybe a few Shubunkin goldfish or other type to keep the skeeters at bay and free fertilizer of the plant. You will just divide the lily when it gets too big for it's pot and give away the extra parts of the tuber. We can help you know how to plant it and divide it correctly.
@j.w The first time I cleaned up I was doing some research on fish I landed on Shubunkin goldfish. I had forgotten about them until now. Thanks for the reminder! There were originally lilies in the pond but they didn't make it through the first clean. Do you have any recommendations for which lilies to look in to?

We really are off to a good start to helping me love my pond. I'm actually excited to work on it now!
 
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Hello & welcome from another pond owner in NC. We're a bit west of you (about 12 miles west of Wilkesboro) I give you credit for persevering & trying to make a go of your nice little pond/water feature. I do agree that most aquatic plants tend to get carried away with their own sense of importance & need a bit of regular maintenance in the way of thinning, pulling & weeding out the excess (particularly in a small preform pond) A small water lily & one or two moderate growing marginals might just be what you're looking for. Or, you might consider turning that area into a 'pondless water feature' in which you get the sight & sound of moving water without the pool for fish. It all depends on how committed you are to regular maintenance. Putting in 'bog' filtration will reduce your work in one area, but it still needs regular tending to the plants.
 
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The pickerel is blooming in your second photo from April 2019. (The picture with the little windmill.) Welcome and hang in there! You will get lots of good advice in this group and tons of encouragement (and sympathy when needed!)
 

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@MisterKrazee Depends on what color you like best. Do a search online for small hardy water lilies and might be that someone here at some point might have some to send you if you pay the shipping. I don't have any small ones. Sometimes they even sell them at Lowes or Home Depot.
 
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The bog filters the water, is a great place to grow water loving plants, and will give mr frog shallow water to relax in. Mrs frog might just join him, then you’ll get tadpoles! As for doing a bog, you’ll want a liner to keep the water contained, hose for your pump, some pvc ( flex will work well) and plants. I’ve got a mini bog set up filtering my indoor guppy pond, it’s great.
 
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@BKHpondcritters Thanks for the credit. Yeah it feels a little funny calling it a pond. To me a pond is a place on a farm you catch bass and brim out of. Haha. At this point regular maintenance will be a couple times a week if needed. The learning curve is knowing which plants need what attention and when. Once I can get that established I'll be fine. Before I just didn't know or care what I had.

@bagsmom Thank you for another positive ID. I've already had a better experience on here than any other forum I've been on.

@j.w That really helps narrow down the search. I checked out some stuff Lowes had this morning while getting some grass seed, but I didn't have time to look look since I had to be back for work.

@JamieB Ah, I still haven't had a chance to check out any bog builds yet. Sounds like I have most of what I need as far as hardware. The more bug eaters I can get around here the better!
 
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Give yourself lots of credit - small ponds are much harder to keep in balance than the big ones! You're doing just fine!
 

brokensword

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also, don't use the fabric pots--use plastic ones as they're a lot harder for the plant to escape from. I've had pickerl rush for a few years now and don't find it invasive at all. Maybe mine is too deep at 12" but I doubt it as I see it growing naturally in public ponds I pass. I like pickerel rush as the flower and even the singular stalk with very few leaves, is unique and adds something to the pond. I like to have mine near the mid to background though and let smaller plants take the fore.

You could get some water hyacinth or water lettuce and that would also help with filtering the water column. They reproduce fast though so you'll be composting from about midsummer on but they're both great pond plants, imo. These two might even survive your winters whereas here, they're annuals and I have to overwinter in the basement if I want early plants in the pond.
 
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also, don't use the fabric pots--use plastic ones as they're a lot harder for the plant to escape from. I've had pickerl rush for a few years now and don't find it invasive at all. Maybe mine is too deep at 12" but I doubt it as I see it growing naturally in public ponds I pass. I like pickerel rush as the flower and even the singular stalk with very few leaves, is unique and adds something to the pond. I like to have mine near the mid to background though and let smaller plants take the fore.

You could get some water hyacinth or water lettuce and that would also help with filtering the water column. They reproduce fast though so you'll be composting from about midsummer on but they're both great pond plants, imo. These two might even survive your winters whereas here, they're annuals and I have to overwinter in the basement if I want early plants in the pond.
@brokensword - I wonder if some plants are less invasive in cooler climates, like where you are? I agree with you about the fabric pots. I like them, since they are easy to squish in between rocks and such. But the plants escape them easily!
 
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also, don't use the fabric pots--use plastic ones as they're a lot harder for the plant to escape from. I've had pickerl rush for a few years now and don't find it invasive at all. Maybe mine is too deep at 12" but I doubt it as I see it growing naturally in public ponds I pass. I like pickerel rush as the flower and even the singular stalk with very few leaves, is unique and adds something to the pond. I like to have mine near the mid to background though and let smaller plants take the fore.

You could get some water hyacinth or water lettuce and that would also help with filtering the water column. They reproduce fast though so you'll be composting from about midsummer on but they're both great pond plants, imo. These two might even survive your winters whereas here, they're annuals and I have to overwinter in the basement if I want early plants in the pond.
How do you overwinter water hyacinth? I hear it doesn't work out.
 
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How do you overwinter water hyacinth? I hear it doesn't work out.
I've tried overwintering water hyacinths and water lettuce in an aquarium indoors with bad results. They seem to last for a while, but then die off. I think if the winters here in Pennsylvania (zone 6A) are just too long. I think if the winters were a bit shorter, they would make it.
 
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I made a trip to Home Depot this morning to see what they had as far as aquatic plants and to see what plastic buckets they have. Very disappointed. No plants, the buckets were either too tall or too shallow, or at least that's what I thought. All I came home with was a cherry tomato plant. Haha.

For the pickerel rush I used 8" tall bags last time. I think it will be easier to find a rectangular tub than an actual pot. I'll be more inclined to remove for a trim too since it would be easy to lift out compared to the bags.

I'm guessing the taller the tub, the further out of the water the pickerel rush will stick?
My maximum depth when the pond is completely full of water would be about 16 inches.

This is the stuff I grew them in last time with good results, but was wondering if there's something better/cheaper I should be using.
I had also put in a slow release fertilizer stick in each bag so that might have attributed to the excessive growth. lol

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I was able to save three of the pickerel rush from the brush pile. I'm probably only going to keep the one in the middle though. Hanging out until I find it's new home.
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Water hyacinths look nice, but I think the flower color is too similar to the pickerel rush. I like contrast. I was looking at water lettuce, but was worried about my zone (7b) and them not making it through the winter. Plus our spring weather is rather unpredictable. The pond's current water temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

I wouldn't mind attempting to overwinter something indoors. I have a seed starting setup that I built. The light I have is way overkill for seedlings. I've found it easier and cheaper to just buy seedlings ready to plant. The room it's in stays pretty toasty in the winter and I could supply however much light the plants would need.
I'm thinking I could get a tub and siphon out the water every now and then. I have rain barrels so I could supply whatever I'm overwintering fresh rain water whenever. I'd make sure to bring the water inside to come to room temp first of course.
I think it would be a fun little experiment. Leave some outside and bring some inside and just see what happens.

Another note for planning is that the pond is recessed behind a small retaining wall. You can't really see what's inside unless you're standing right next to it. It will basically only be enjoyed from the porch looking down.
 
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If the new version of your pond is still only one foot deep, I wouldn't put any fish in there. The water will heat up too much in summer and get too cold in winter.
 
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mrsclem

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Most of us here use plain unscented kitty litter to grow pond plants. Its pure clay, you just need to be sure it says allclay, not clumping or scented. I just picked up another 4 bags from Tractor Supply, $9 for 50 pounds. I've been using Osmocote in my lilies and Pond Tabbs for lotus
 

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