Are you considering creating a backyard pond and wondering what the benefits of having a small pond are? We built our own DIY backyard pond (which holds about 1,200 gallons of water) over a decade ago, so we can share the unique benefits a beautiful pond has created for our family — and may create for yours, too!
Also, before you dive in to building or installing your own pond, note that there are some downsides to consider as well, which we detail at the end of this article.
14 benefits of a backyard pond
As you’ll see below, there are lots of benefits to adding a backyard pond to your outdoor space:
1. Visual appeal and interest
A well-designed pond is a great way to add natural beauty to any landscape. No matter what other attractive features you have in your yard or garden, your pond will most certainly be the focal point that you (and your guests) will find most interesting and enjoyable.
2. Increase biodiversity
If you’ve ever carefully observed a natural/wild pond ecosystem, you know that they’re a rich habitat for local wildlife. Your own man-made pond can be, too.
So long as you use natural, non-chemical cleaning systems and *de-chlorinated water to fill and top-up your pond, you’ll be amazed by the biodiversity your pond adds to your yard over time. Our pond now contains salamanders, frogs, crawfish, pond snails, beneficial insect larvae (such as dragonfly and mayflies), and more.
Interestingly, we didn’t introduce any of these species to our pond. They showed up on their own.
*We use this simple water de-chlorinator (which attaches between your water spigot and hose) when adding water to our pond. We also use Flexzilla drinking safe water hoses to reduce the presence of other chemical contaminants in our pond water.
3. Increase your home’s purchase appeal (maybe)
Are there financial benefits to a backyard pond? Maybe!
If you’re trying to sell your house, a well-designed and attractive backyard pond can make your property stand out to a potential buyer relative to other competing homes. Granted, the reverse could also be true: someone might consider a backyard pond something they don’t want when they’re house shopping.
4. Rainwater capture
We love seeing our pond fill to the brim during a heavy rain storm. However, we also realize we’d like to be doing a lot more to capture rainwater via our pond system.
For instance, we currently have a traditional asphalt shingle roof. Thus, the water that runs off our roof and through our gutters is fairly contaminated with small bits of asphalt shed from the roof.
Instead of an asphalt roof, our dream is to have a metal roof so we can capture and use clean water coming off of our roof via metal gutters running into our pond and other catchment systems. Rather than using plastic rain barrels (which we’re not big fans of), our pond system could provide both water storage and water conservation for our roof run-off.
5. Yard/garden irrigation
Whether you have a few potted plants, raised garden beds, or large in-ground beds, you can use your backyard pond to irrigate them. This could be as simple as dipping a watering can into your pond then pouring the water around the base of your plants.
In the spring and summer months, if we’re doing a water clean-out on our pond, we’ll use a sump pump attached to a garden hose to pump our old nutrient-rich pond water into beds where we grow perennial fruit and nut plants (blackberries, persimmons, chestnuts, etc).
6. Garden fertilizer
Granted, not all ponds make a lot of fertilizer. However, we raise backyard ducks. Eleven spoiled-rotten backyard ducks to be exact.
In case you didn’t know, ducks poop (technically poop and pee at the same time) about every 2.5 seconds, or so it seems. And since our ducks LOVE being in “their” pond, our filter ponds and biofilters have to be cleaned out 1-2 times per year.
As the old saying goes, one person’s disgusting duck muck is another person’s treasure. (Actually, nobody has ever said that.) But our duck muck is indeed treasure (fertilizer) to our plants. That’s because we use our homemade duck sludge around the base of our in-ground fruit/nut trees as well as our potted citrus trees. We then mulch the beds or pot surfaces.
Safety warning: Please note that we do NOT recommend using duck pond water or sludge as a fertilizer around low-growing edible annual plants (lettuce, kale, spinach, etc) since these substances could contain pathogens that could make you sick or worse.
7. Raise ducks
We already mentioned we raise ducks, who make oh-so-delicious and nutritious eggs that we think put chicken eggs to shame. In fact, the reason we originally designed and built our particular backyard pond was for the purpose of providing for our ducks, who need water to bathe, play, and be happy.
If you want to raise backyard ducks, having some sort of pond (even if it’s a kiddie pool) is ideal. Our backyard pond requires far less work and makes far less mess than having to dump and re-fill a kiddie pool every 2-3 days.
Do note that a backyard pond without ducks is much more on the low maintenance side of the scale because ducks are rather messy creatures. Plus, they molt their feathers at least once per year, which means clogged water pumps. Depending on how many ducks are using your pond, maintaining your pond’s water quality will be more of a challenge as well.
8. Raise fish
You can also use a pond to raise another type of animal: fish. You’ve probably had the opportunity to sit next to a koi pond before, so you know they can be a gorgeous, mesmerizing feature in a landscape.
You could potentially raise fish for food as well (example: tilapia), with fish species varying based on factors such as your particular climate, the size of your pond, etc. Fish do add extra “fertilizer” to a pond, which means increased maintenance and design considerations (larger filter ponds, aquatic plants for bioremediation, etc).
Side note: We accidentally raised fish in our duck pond for several years when a few of the small feeder fish we got from a pet store for a duck treat ended up avoiding our ducks and living into adulthood. Unfortunately, a great blue heron eventually spotted them, flew down, and gobbled them up as our ducks shouted at the invader in horror.
9. Raise edible pond plants
There are lots of delicious edible water-loving plants you can grow. So you can also use your backyard pond and/or filter pond as an edible water garden. Edible aquatic plants you might consider adding to your “garden pond” include:
- water chestnuts
- water cress
- cattails (which can produce more starch per acre than potatoes!)
- water lilies
- water mint
- and more.
Note that putting plants in your DUCK pond (even inedible plants) will not end well for the plants. That’s because your ducks eat any edible plants and do their best to destroy any non-edibles. We do raise pickerelweed in our filter ponds which are fenced off to keep our ducks out.
The pickerelweed uses the nutrients in the duck waste and helps to improve the water quality of our pond system. We also use the pickerelweed leaves as duck treats in the summer.
10. Education for ADULTS
Words on a page or screen can only go so far. However, the full sensory emersion that comes from creating, observing, and managing a pond ecosystem provides a truly enriching educational experience for adults.
By virtue of our backyard pond, we’ve learned a tremendous amount about ducks, pond plants and animals, and the complex dynamics of pond ecosystems.
11. Education (and wonder) for KIDS
Our young son has been drawn to our backyard pond from Day 1. The sounds and movement of the waterfalls, the splashing of our ducks, the honeybees drinking from the edges on a hot summer day, and — his favorite feature — the frogs. In the summer, we have two species of native frogs which inhabit our pond. While trying to attract mates, their loud calls are a continuous source of humor and fascination for him.
Many nights when the frogs are trilling, we’ll go outside with our flashlights so our son can have a better look at these small animals who make noises so loud you’d think they’re emanating from elephants.
Thus, to parents like us, one of the most important benefits of having a pond or garden is fostering our child’s interest and connection with the natural world.
12. Create an aquatic soundscape and reduce noise pollution
Car engines, your loud neighbors chattering… Are you bombarded by manmade sounds that you’d prefer not to hear?
One great way to reduce or eliminate unwanted incoming sounds is via a backyard pond with a waterfall feature. We love the aquatic soundscape created by our pond’s waterfalls and we bet you will too.
13. Mental health
Many studies verify the positive effects and health benefits caused by the sound of water. Excerpts from a couple of recent studies which demonstrate these positive effects:
- “… natural waterscape sounds relieve transient anxiety states and promote healthy autonomic nervous activity.” –source
- “… As compared to a space without any waterscape element, relaxation in a space with a waterscape element was found to significantly reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure and salivary amylase concentration. These findings indicate waterscape facilities can improves users’ mood states and may enhance their health.” –source
Similarly, for people who practice meditation, reflection, prayer, or similar practices, creating a dedicated spot to sit next to your backyard pond is a gift you can give yourself that will confer numerous psychological benefits for years to come.
14. Water hole for nature
Last summer, my aunts’ small manmade pond in Asheville, NC, was often visited by a baby and momma bear who would go for a cooling swim on hot afternoons. Deer would come for a drink as well.
Thus, for the home’s human occupants, the pond created the feel of a backyard wildlife viewing area which they loved!
Granted, some people might not actually want their backyard pond being a watering hole for such animals, so a fence may be necessary. Our backyard pond is in a yard surrounded by a 6′ tall fence, so we don’t get large mammal visitors. However, our pond still serves as a water source for countless other small mammals and creatures.
5 downsides of a backyard pond
Now that we’ve detailed the pros of a backyard pond, we should also mention the cons. That way, you can better decide whether a backyard pond is an ideal fit for you.
The first and most obvious downside of being a backyard pond owner is the money it takes to construct and maintain your pond system. Depending on the design, features, and size of your pond, you can easily spend several thousand dollars creating your dream pond — even if you build it yourself.
2. Time / Maintenance
Keeping a well-maintained pond can sometimes be a lot of work. Cleaning your pond filters and water pump, doing an occasional water change out, sifting out fall leaves, etc.
At least for me, these chores are mildly irritating but they’ve become part of my routine so they don’t outweigh the benefits of having a pond. Also note that if you do NOT have ducks or fish, you’ll have a lot less pond maintenance. The same is true if you have a way of keeping leaves and debris from falling in your pond.
You’ll have to learn how to maintain your unique pond system throughout the year. Exactly how to do that is going to vary depending on your climate, what type of pump and filter system you have, etc.
If you enjoy learning new skills and obtaining new knowledge, this can actually be a fun challenge. However, this endeavor may not appeal to you, and that’s ok too.
4. Child hazard
Just like swimming pools, a backyard pond presents a drowning hazard for babies and small children. So if you have kids in your home or visiting, you’ll want to always make sure an adult is with them while they’re exploring around the pond.
Even though our four-year-old son is now a fairly strong swimmer and can hold his breath underwater, we still always make sure an adult is with him while he’s visiting the pond.
5. Climate challenges
We live in Greenville, SC, in USDA hardiness zone 8a. This is a relatively mild climate. Nevertheless, we still occasionally get deep winter freezes that cause our pond to freeze almost all the way over.
However, for most of the winter our pond is ice-free. By virtue of our climate, we can leave our pond system turned on all winter long.
Unlike us, if you live in a cold climate region, you may have to turn off and store your pumps and winterize your pond each year. The flip side of that “problem” is you don’t have to do any pond maintenance in the cold months, whereas I have to put on waiters and special gloves to clean duck feathers out of our pond pumps in icy cold water!
Is a backyard pond a good choice for YOU?
Now you have a better idea of what the pros and cons of having a backyard pond are and can decide whether you’re ready to dive in (pun intended)! If you’re ready to start planning your backyard pond (with or without ducks), be sure to check out our other pond articles:
- Step-by-step: how to build a backyard pond with natural biofilter system
- Answers to frequently asked pond questions people have emailed us
- How to clean a Laguna Max-Flo pond pump (with instructional video)