Tranquil Escapes Ponds & Watergardens

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River stone or no river stones in the pond

Pond river stones or not?

Often we are asked the question if there should be river stones inside the pond to cover the liner or not. This is a very common question in our business. Answer is yes and no. Depends on you.  Here is our philosophy on this subject. These opinions are based on maintaining a pond in the winter climate zones when ponds go dormant for 4-6 months and do not have the advantage of beneficial bacteria, plant life, and circulation, and owner maintenance  year round.

River stone option

River stones covering your entire liner in the pond does look appealing, it certainly gives the pond some contour and life.  It also provides a place for beneficial bacteria to thrive which has some benefits in keeping the pond clear. Some of the negative features of river stone is that it is likely to cause string algae to grow on these stones in a short period after installation or after the spring opening, which means you now do not see the stones so much because they are covered in green algae/string algae. At this point you have a decision to try and combat the algae with additives/chemicals/bacteria /copper ionizers or live with it. If your pond is in full or partial sun, expect algae or string algae to grow more rapidly. Not that there is anything wrong with some string algae, it’s just that most clients do not wish to see it if they have stones in the pond.  If you don’t mind string algae, then this is not a problem for you.  You also need to be careful that you do not have too much river stone in the pond because if water and oxygen are not flowing through these small stones, they create decaying sludge which smells much like sewage during spring cleaning, which now feeds string algae.  Maintaining a very large pond with river stones (let’s say a 15 ft by 30 ft or larger) pond can become  labour intensive or costly if you hire someone each spring to drain, wash down,  and refill the pond in order to keep the stones looking good. If you want vertical sides or a deeper pond, it requires much larger area to slope the pond with benches so that the stones will not slide to the bottom (keep in mind stones are not heavy under water) so they tend to slide into the bottom if sides are sloped too much. So you have to design the pond to accommodate river stones.
No River stone option

If you decide not to have river stones in the pond it will not require the same level of spring cleaning if it is maintained regularly (remove the dead leaves/debris that may be settling on the bottom).  You may not need a major spring cleaning like ponds with river stones because there is no river stones to maintain and bring back to “New”.  There also tends to be less string algae growth and minimal algae growth on the pond liner.  Some of the negatives with not having river stones is that you may have  “green water” challenges, not so much if your pond is in shade all day, but if in the sun most of the day, it will likely experience green water unless there is a good filtration system in place. This website has some examples of ponds with bare liner or concrete lined ponds that had green water isues. Depending on the size of the pond, a biological water fall filter may be sufficient, but if not, it may require additional filtration (media filter/bog style filter) and/or a U/V light.

We will install ponds with or without river stones if the client wishes. Tranquil Escapes has strategically not become dedicated to support anyone pond supply manufacturer and this does not limit our decision making options to suit the client. One size does not fit all.   Some pond suppliers/contractors rave about the benefits of using river stone in the pond to maintain healthy water/eco system but yet sell many water additives and copper ionizers to assist with the so called natural ecosystem.  Our recommendation is to consider various options before deciding and ask for some testimonials/references for river stone or no river stone options and see how clients respond.
Examples of each pond below.

Above is an example of a pond with no river stones in the pond.

Above is an example of a pond with river stones in the pond

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