Willow bushes are wonderful in my pond


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Why is everyone so afraid to have willow bushes in their ponds? That's ridiculous. My pond is basically 30 by 24 feet and a bit over 5 feet deep. I've rarely seen a pond in nature that did not have willows growing in it. To me they are the most beautiful plant in a pond. They provide great color, some shade, great habitat for all kinds of bugs and birds and good cover for little fish to hide. I dug my pond out by hand in April and early May, used aiir mattresses for underlayment (I got them from 2nd hand store and cut them open in half to get more area covered) and then used 30 mil epdm liner from BTL Liners in Prineville, OR. I got the liner in and the pond full by third week in May. I went to the nearby lakes and dug up some willow, cattail, grasses, etc and a bit of lily pad and placed them on the shallower benches along the edge of my pond. I did this over the course of a couple weeks. I wanted Blue gills, but initially was unable to find any, so I brought 5 brown bullhead catfish home to at least have some fish. I also brought some minnows from the local stream. I got Blue gills a couple weeks later. When the blue gills started nesting I observed the catfish in on the nests feeding so that evening I caught all 5 cats and filleted them out to eat. Currently I have 23 adult blue gills and I expect youngins any day. Our water is mostly clear. When I'm in it (daily) I can see my feet when standing in water up to my chest. I have a long way to go with surrounding the pond with plants, but the water looks good. It is my opinion that the willows are doing the lion's share of cleaning the water right now. And I only have 6 willow clumps about 1.5 to 2 feet around. The pond has multiple lodgepole pines around it so the water is partially shaded throughout the day. The willows look so beautiful. Don't be afraid of doing the willows. I plan to add some small bass and small trout.
 
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Nothing. The willows and other plants are my filtration along with a little wind, the fish, our swimming. I read the book Building Natural Ponds. It is a great resource. Being a fisherman, hunter, trapper, basic outdoorsman I was never convinced a pond needed all the pumps, chemicals and all that. His book confirmed it. However, he says nothing about having willow bushes in the pond. Everyone says how much water the willows take. With the bushes so far I haven't noticed that much. At some point I will post pics after I have much more of my liner covered with grass and plants. I'm not using rocks along my shoreline to cover the liner. Let's be honest, as beautiful as rocks are, how many natural ponds in the wild actually have their banks lined with rocks? Its true that many flowing creeks and rivers (and lakes) have lots of rocks, but not still-water ponds. Most of the still water ponds with rocks were man-made pits, often for road and highway material. I wanted it more natural. I have planted grass around the entire pond and intend to let it grow right into the water. Talk about excellent filtration, along with providing food for creatures in the water and habitat for all kinds of bugs etc along the bank.
 

Mmathis

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@wessal Hello and welcome!

Gosh, I don’t seem to recall that anyone has been saying bad things about willows. Exactly…..what plant are you calling a “willow”? What you seem to be describing is a natural type filter, using plants. Many of us on here have a bog filter.
 
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@wessal Hello and welcome!

Gosh, I don’t seem to recall that anyone has been saying bad things about willows. Exactly…..what plant are you calling a “willow”? What you seem to be describing is a natural type filter, using plants. Many of us on here have a bog filter.
Yes, I was wondering what this willow looks like. I know what a weeping willow tree looks like. Is this the same thing?

I also use a bog to filter my pond. No other filters, just the bog.
It all pretty much runs itself.
 
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j.w

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@wessal
I love the Willow tree in my yard but my pond is not big enough for the tree. Maybe you are talking about a different type of Willow rather than the big giant tree ones? I suppose if it gets too big, just yank it out of the pot and plant it in the yard and start all over again.
 

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I'm amazed that your only filter is your plants.
That's great!
How long has it been running like that?

A couple months if he finished it in April early May.

@wessal Not saying what your doing won’t work but it is a little early in your ponding to be saying how well it’s doing. Couple of concerns, running grass right up to your pond edges, what prevents run off from getting in your pond, if it happens it is going to make a mess. Watch some of those plants you put in the pond, ie cattails they will take over your pond and are a pain to rip out once established.

Time will tell how well your no pump pond will do, especially once plants die off for the winter and drop mulm in the pond, leaves falling in the pond etc. with no circulation/mechanical filter to remove them.

Most on here myself included use plants to filter their ponds, both in the pond proper and in a bog, where we differ is using pumps to circulate the water and prevent plant and woody debris from accumulating on the pond bottom.

As for ponds not having rocks in them and around them, it depends where you look for ponds ie natural ponds usually occur in low areas and are mucky messes around them, where I live but if I go into higher elevations near me natural ponds have rocks in and around them. But hey to each their own in what they want their pond to look like, beauty in the eye of the beholder or something like that.
 

brokensword

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I sit and think, looking over my 14 x18' pond, and can just visualize a willow in it...nah, ain't ever gonna happen. Wonder what your thoughts will be re willows when in a not too distant time, those willow roots set themselves into your liner...unless this is a mud pond, of course.
 
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A couple months if he finished it in April early May.

@wessal Not saying what your doing won’t work but it is a little early in your ponding to be saying how well it’s doing. Couple of concerns, running grass right up to your pond edges, what prevents run off from getting in your pond, if it happens it is going to make a mess. Watch some of those plants you put in the pond, ie cattails they will take over your pond and are a pain to rip out once established.

Time will tell how well your no pump pond will do, especially once plants die off for the winter and drop mulm in the pond, leaves falling in the pond etc. with no circulation/mechanical filter to remove them.

Most on here myself included use plants to filter their ponds, both in the pond proper and in a bog, where we differ is using pumps to circulate the water and prevent plant and woody debris from accumulating on the pond bottom.

As for ponds not having rocks in them and around them, it depends where you look for ponds ie natural ponds usually occur in low areas and are mucky messes around them, where I live but if I go into higher elevations near me natural ponds have rocks in and around them. But hey to each their own in what they want their pond to look like, beauty in the eye of the beholder or something like that.
My exact thoughts.
I agree with all of that.
I wish him luck, but it's only been a couple months. Too soon to assume the current conditions will continue.
 
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They're not willow trees, per se, but the willow bushes you find along many waterways. As for the roots growing into the liner, for what purpose? They have all the water and nutrients they could want in the pond. Time will always tell, no doubt. Lots of folks have cattails in their ponds, and I expect I will have to thin them along with all other plants as necessary. Since I swim in the pond, it would be no problem to get in there and cut away various roots if I have to. The top of my pond is about 15 inches above the ground around it. When it is topped out to overflowing it is 5 feet 5 inches deep in deepest area. Around the entire edge of the pond the raised border made from the sand I dug out of the pond hole varies from 2 feet wide to up to 7 feet wide. It's flat there, with some wider places having a slight slope away from the pond. So there will be very little runoff into the pond. When I said folks seem to be afraid to have any willow in their ponds I've read all kinds of warnings by some of them saying "willows will take over your whole pond, the roots will grow into your liner, they give off and aspirin type chemical that will be bad for your fish," etc. I've always been skeptical of the general warnings the crowd tends to buy into. So just as I am confident my pond will stay healthy naturally (without pumps, chemicals, filtration, etc.) I fully expect the willows to prove out to be fine. I have planted grass around the entire edge. I also will be adding a variety of wild plants to help add stability and beautify the edge. I've been laid up for almost three weeks because of a medical procedure. Hopefully tomorrow the doc will okay picking up my activity some and I can get busy on adding to the pond. It only has a bit of sand on the bottom and some shelves now. I'm going to go out to a stream and get a bunch of very small rocks (like smooth gravel) and some larger ones to add to the 70 or so medium size rocks in the pond right now. Who knows though I may come back later and say, I didn't know what I was talking about. I'm 64 years old with decades experience in nature.
 
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Plant roots don't necessarily behave the way we think they should. I remember seeing a video of a pond's liner that had been shredded by plant roots, cattails maybe. They were growing up through the liner everywhere. And that liner was heavier than yours.

I wouldn't want to take what I see as those risks with my pond, but it's your pond to do with what you wish.

I hope it works out well for you.
 

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