This is a post about our process of building our duck pond. I'm not a pond expert but am sharing my experiences of what has worked and not worked for us. This ended up being a longer process than I thought it would be, with a lot of learning along the way.
The first step in the process is to decide how large of a pond you would like for your ducks. Our pond is approximately 18ft X 21ft and 3ft deep at the deepest section. Ducks like to dive, so if you are going to make a large pond, make sure to make it deep enough for them to dive.
I hand dug the shape of the pond and then my husband used the tractor to dig it out to the depth we wanted.
The next step is to decide what kind of liner you want to use, there are a few options...
1. Bentonite Clay
2. Formed Solid Liner
3. Plastic Liner
We first tried using bentonite clay, this is the least expensive option but you have to have the correct type of soil for this to work. We have clay soil here with lots of rocks and after several days of attempting to get this to hold water, we found out that this method doesn't work well with our type of soil. If someone is able to adjust their soil, they may be able to get bentonite clay to work with clay soil, but we were not able to be successful with this liner.
We finally decided to give up on the bentonite clay and just buy a flexible liner. There are several types of flexible liners, some are more flexible but less puncture resistant. We decided to go with the thickest, least flexible liner that was the most puncture resistant. Ducks have sharp nails and one of our dogs has also been in the pond a few times, so we wanted a liner that would hold up to them. We went with liners made by a company in Oregon called BTL Liners. The liner we chose is a double-scrim reinforced polyethylene liner, BTL-40.
You will need a pump to pump the water out of the pond to the filter system. I don't claim to be an expert on what type of pump, but the pump we bought seems to be working well for us. We have sump pump called Pacific Hydrostar 2800 gph.
The water is pumped to the filter system my husband built, which is behind the duck house. Our filter system consists of two large containers filled with lava rock. When I did research on purchasing a premade filter, the filter that was recommended for a duck pond our size was almost $2000, which was a lot more than we wanted to spend.
We started out with much smaller containers but they were not keeping the pond very clean, I was later told by a pond expert that the general rule of thumb is, 50 gallons of filter for every 1000 gallons of pond water. These two filters are not filled to the top with lava rock, but combined are approximately 400-500 gallons of lava rocks. We calculated our pond to be approximately 4000 gallons. So according to the estimate of 50 gallons for every 1000 gallons of water, we would need approximately 200 gallons for the filter, but we decided since the ducks are so messy, we should increase the filter size. In the top of the first filter we also have a funnel that has some burlap in it to further filter out large debris (if the burlap doesn't work we may try using polyester batting or some other form of filtering material).
Once the water is pumped through both filters, it then goes through a UV light. The UV light is needed to help kill the algae and keep the pond from turning green. You want to find a UV light that will work for the size of pond that you have. Our pond was looking very green before we bought the UV light and within a few days, it cleaned up the water very nicely.
After the filter and the UV light, the water travels back into the duck run and flows through a stream we created and back into the pond.
We are also working to get some plants to grow in the pond, currently we have some sedge grass, cat tails and creeping jenny. We tried Duck Weed, but the ducks ate all of this in seconds. The plants all have to be fenced off so the ducks don't eat them before they become established.
We have also added more plants in the duck run. We have a well established butterfly bush in the duck run, and have added 6 more butterfly bushes, a few different types of mint, a rose bush and some rosemary bushes. We are also hoping some of the grass will start to grow back.
The pond is still not completely clear, but I think it looks pretty good for a pond with 10 messy ducks. I also purchased some barley straw bales, which are supposed to reduce particles and odors. We have not used these yet, but plan to in the future. I also highly recommend purchasing a net to get the feathers out of the pond, especially during molting or they can clog the pump, I found this out first hand.
I recently heard about an Enzymatic Pond Cleaner but have not tried this product yet. I will keep you posted if we try this product or anything else and how well they work.
In addition to building the pond, we extended their run to make sure the pond was completely enclosed. The ducks are extremely happy with their new pond, they are either swimming in the pond, sleeping next to the pond, or standing at the edge drinking from the pond most of the day. Apple especially loves the pond and I think being able to be in the water is really good therapy for her leg. If you don't know Apple's story, check it out here.