I don't know how long I've had a still pond in the backyard. Its liner, I recall, was good for twenty years. It might now be older.
What you ask is a still pond? It's still because, unlike other backyard water features, there is no circulating water, no pump, no filters; just this small body of water.
Obviously, the simplicity of a still pond needs ecological balance or otherwise muck and algae-green water will take over. The still pond works because I've balanced resident goldfish with water lilies and other water plants. The fish eat water algae and their waste fertilizes the water lilies whose broad leaves also tend to keep algae blooms under control.
Construction of the pond was straightforward. A friend and I took a can of spray paint and marked out a rough circle of about ten feet on the grass. Then we began to dig, down to roughly twenty-four inches, with a ten-inch ledge to eventually hold “shelf plants” like water irises and water marigolds.
With the dirt removed, the plastic liner was dropped in and anchored at its edges by large rocks I quarried up on Mt. Hood [I actually got a Forest Service permit to remove the rocks!].
Goldfish are great for a still pond. Not big waste producers [like koi], but more importantly, very tolerant. They take temperature changes: In the winter, when the pond freezes over, you'll see them, barely moving, below the ice; their metabolism must be just enough to keep them alive.
The goldfish in the pond now number about forty. Four largish [six inches or so] fish that are survivors of twelve-for-a-dollar feeder goldfish I bought years ago. The offspring--all pond-born--are the dozens of small fry of various ages.
One essential accessory I added is a small electric fence about the perimeter to discourage raccoons from nocturnal raids. Otherwise, the pond would look like it had been hit with a Cuisinart.
Maintenance on a still pond is not nil, but it is minimal. To prevent the pond from overflowing during our Portland rains, I put in a one-inch PVC overflow pipe that runs underground across the backyard for about thirty feet to a lower outlet. A partial water change happens once every few years. With a garden hose, I siphon out about twenty-five percent and fill up from the faucet and add a dechlorinator.
Every fall, there's taking out the season's water lily leaves.
But during these summer months, with lilies in bloom, fish moving about, an occasional visit by a gaudy dragonfly; I can't think of a better way to relax than with the stillness of my backyard pond.
Image credit: the author
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.
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