Having a pond or other water feature in your backyard brings beauty and relaxation and can be a joy to you as a homeowner. Sitting by a pond, watching the goldfish swim lazily under the lily pads is both peaceful and mesmerizing.
Much as you love your pond, there are many pests who look at your pond as an open invitation to damage or even destroy the ecosystem you have built within it. All that hard work down the drain when you wake up in the morning to see all your fish missing and plants destroyed by a hungry raccoon.
So, how do you keep the pests and predators away from your pond? While there is no way that is 100% certain to deter pests, here are some ways you can make it less likely for them to visit your water feature.
Let’s talk about the four most common pond pests, and ways to keep them away.
These masked marauders are some of the bolder and more difficult-to-deter predators that can make off with your fish. Raccoons are naturally drawn to your pond as they prefer to wash their food and water before they eat it. From their point of view, your pond is their dinner served up on a tray.
If that wasn’t a good enough reason to deter raccoons, this is. The problem is not only do they pose a risk to your fishy friends; raccoons may also spread the Leptospirosis bacteria that are transmissible to both humans and pets. Discouraging them from spending time in your yard is more than about just protecting your pond; it’s about protecting your family.
One of the ways to discourage their presence is by providing hiding spots for your fish. This makes it harder for them to reach your fish. Well-placed rocks, plants, or even a fountain will provide places for the fish to keep out of sight of predators.
Increasing the depth of your pond, especially around the edges, will reduce the risk of fish approaching the surface where the masked thieves can snatch them.
You may need to consider putting a strong mesh covering over the pond at night, since that is when raccoons are most active.
As a last resort, carefully trapping and then releasing the animal far away from your home is also an option. Of course, this will only work if the raccoon population in your yard is minimal. Take great care when handling these animals, as they can be extremely violent when cornered.
Among the predators that are most likely to make off with your fish are birds. Keeping birds away from your pond can be difficult, especially if you’re looking to maintain a natural looking environment.
Again, using netting to cover your pond will keep birds away from your fish. You also want to provide protected areas, such as lily pads and other pond plants, to provide hiding places. These plants can also hide the fact that there is a pond present, keeping the birds flying overhead from seeing a possible snack.
While it may not work for everyone, utilizing a decoy such as a realistic looking owl sculpture next to the pond may help deter winged predators. Or consider motion activated deterrents, such as a sprinkler that turns on when it senses movement above the pond.
Another great deterrent for birds in your pond is the family dog. While they may not actually catch the birds, the loud barking and chasing will scare them off in most cases. Of course, this only works if the dog doesn’t want to jump in the pond as well!
An issue you may not have thought of that birds can cause in your pond or water feature is polluting the water. Waterfowl specifically can make a mess of your pond, and you’ll need to be sure to use good filtration to keep it clean and healthy.
Nothing ruins a perfect evening in your backyard quite like the whine of a mosquito buzzing around your head, but these are the simplest pests to get rid of. Everyone knows that standing water is where they reproduce, so how do you keep your pond from becoming a mosquito breeding ground?
The simplest way to accomplish this is to create movement in the water. Mosquitoes need still water for the larva to survive, so creating some movements is the solution.
If you’re designing a pond for the first time, adding a waterfall is a natural looking way to keep the water moving. Alternatively, consider a fountain in the middle of the pond to rain water down on the surface. A side benefit of either of these choices is calming sound of moving water. Bonus!
Adding goldfish or koi to your pond is another way to cut down on the mosquito population. Keep in mind that you will need to be sure to add filtration or plenty of pond plants to make up for the pollution these fish can cause. You may also consider adding Mosquito Dunks, a natural enemy of mosquito larvae, yet are harmless to pets and fish.
Speaking of plants, this can also be a great way to deter mosquitoes from hanging out around your pond. Keeping the still areas of the pond covered with plants can help significantly.
If you are still having problem with mosquitoes, and your pond water is moving, take a look around your yard for other still water. Any place where water is left undisturbed is a potential mosquito breeding place. Turn over empty pots, buckets; even old tires can catch water.
You may not consider dogs to be a predator to your pond and the fish that may be in it, they can certainly be a pest. Most dogs love water, and it may be hard for them to resist hopping in your pond and undoing all of your hard work.
Even if you don’t have a dog of your own, but your neighbor’s dog has a habit of visiting your yard, you may need to consider fencing. Of course, fencing the entire yard may not be practical or cost-effective, but a small decorative fence around the pond can be a great alternative.
Another option is to cover your pond in netting. While it may not be the most decorative option, it can be a great way to “kill two birds with one stone”. It’ll keep your canine friends out of the water, as well as any visiting raccoons and birds.
If you really don’t want to use a short fence or mesh to protect your pond, a single strand of electric wire around the perimeter of the pond will certainly deter both dogs and raccoons. It is far less obtrusive visually, and you may not even need to leave it on permanently. Just until the neighborhood dogs are trained to stay away, then turn it on only at night for raccoons.
Protect your Pond
Keeping the pests away from your pond can be a frustrating task at times, as you attempt to keep the natural-looking environment intact. By utilizing the tips we’ve presented, you can make your pond or water feature less attractive to these pests, and you’ll enjoy it for years to come.