Pond Water Color

Water coloring for weed and algae prevention

In order to prevent the growth of weeds and string algae, water in almost any type of pond or lake should not be perfectly clear. The way the water is colored is of major importance.

Clear water will not stay clear very long when exposed to the sun. Something will grow in the water, and it will probably not be what you want. To control this in farm ponds, fish ponds, lakes, or even in koi ponds and other backyard ponds, you will have to take some action. Prevention is better than trying to treat for slime, blanket weed, or submersed lake weeds later on. Getting out in front on this issue could save you a lot of money in treatment costs.

Pond water color good and bad

Not all pond water color is good. Turbid or muddy water isn’t good for any beneficial aquatic life, and the problem causing the turbidity should be solved before anything else can be done to improve water quality. This problem can occur for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is a bare watershed. Once the cause is dealt with, the water can be cleared using a flocking compound, and then the real work of getting the water properly tinted can begin.

The best pond water color is achieved with algae. Not string algae or pond scum, but the type of algae suspended in the water, known as phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton for pond water color

Phytoplankton is the best solution to most water clarity issues, it shades the water against sunlight, and uses nutrients which would otherwise be used by weeds and string algae, and it feeds zooplankton which feeds fish. There are several different types of phytoplankton.

Diatom algae

The type of phytoplankton present in the water is also important. There are many types, but perhaps the most productive is diatom plankton. These are the microscopic plants with silica exoskeletons which exist both in salt water and fresh water. Like phytoplankton in general, their numbers are diminishing, and have been for many years. Diatoms are very efficient in food production, and present a marked increase in zooplankton when they are present in large enough quantities. Diatom algae adds a golden brown tint to pond water.

Green algae

Green phytoplankton, have cellulose as their skeletons and produce increases zooplankton, but to a lesser degree than diatoms. Both produce color in the water, both remove excessive nutrients from the water, both produce oxygen, break down carbon dioxide, and raise dissolved oxygen levels, and both reduce weed and string algae production. Diatoms produce these desirable effects more efficiently, and great strides forward have been made in efficient means of producing it. Green phytoplankton produces similar results, but phosphorous is needed to produce and maintain this bloom, and phosphorus supplies are running low. Not all green algae are the same.

Dyes for pond water color

There are occasions where phytoplankton production may be difficult to acheive due to a variety of factors such as local water use restrictions. It is even possible to produce some types of fish without the presence of high concentrations of phytoplankton. Catfish respond well to regular feeding, and the introduction of fathead minnows into the environment, but for weed control, and for temperature control, some coloring of the water is needed. In such situations, and for decorative fish ponds, fountains, and other decorative garden type ponds, dyes may present the best possible alternative.

Lake Weed Control: The Best Method

The best lake weed control is smart cultural practices

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  • The best lake weed control is not aquatic herbicides or lake weed killers.
  • The best lake weed control is not with mechanical harvesting devices or lake weed cutters.
  • The best lake weed control is not with hand cutters and rakes.
  • The best lake weed control is not with biological controls like Asian fish and strange foreign beetles.

Lake weed prevention

The very best lake weed control is to never give them a chance to become a problem in the first place! The best lake weed control, like the best disease control, or the best fire control, is prevention!

How do you prevent lake weeds? Simple, do not give them a start, and do not give them a place to start. If you never allow the introduction of exotic lake weeds, you will never have an exotic lake weed problem. Other types of lake weeds may grow naturally in your area, and that is where the “not giving them a place to start” part comes in. I am not talking about getting rid of your pond or lake, but about getting rid of the conditions which favor a lake weed control disaster.

Lake, lake weeds, lake environment

For any organism to take hold, it must first have a host, and second, a proper environment. If the environment is unfavorable, or no organism or host present, the chance of having a serious problem is just not present either. Think of your pond or lake as the host, lake weeds as the organism, and the condition of your pond as the environment. Obviously you don’t want to do away with the host, that is your lake. The organism, that is, the lake weeds are ever present, so you can’t do much about that, the only thing left is to deal with the environment, that is, the conditions of the pond or lake.

Modify the lake environment

Your goal as a pond or lake manager practicing preventive lake weed control, is to modify the lakes environment to favor the health of the lake, and to help it to become resistant to the invading weeds. This is done by using good cultural practices.

Lake fertility

Lake weed control problems are a result of one of two things. Either the lake is overly fertile, and the weeds emerge as a result of the excessive fertility, or the lake is under fertilized, and the weeds grow as a result of the lake beds exposure to sunlight. In both cases, shallow water is usually a factor. Fertility, out of balance, is always a potential problem. In the majority of cases, lack of fertility is the problem.

Why is this? When sunlight reaches the bed of a pond or lake, it warms the soil, and activates photosynthesis in plant life existing in a more or less dormant stage. This encourages growth. If sunlight does not reach the bottom, growth is prevented. Pond fertility, when in balance, produces phytoplankton which shades the bottom by coloring the water.

To solve the lake weed problem, to prevent it from recurring, the fertility must be kept in balance. Monitoring and maintaining lake fertility is the primary tool for lake weed prevention.

See also: How To Fertilize A Pond Or Lake

Aquatic Weed Killer: Aquatic Herbicide List

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Aquatic weed killer, or lake weed killers are aquatic herbicides. Aquatic herbicides are chemical products that kill lake weeds. This page includes a description of the various types available to the pond and lake owner for lake weed control.

Most aquatic herbicide products have counterparts with the same or similar chemical make up in agriculture or horticulture. Glyphosate products like Rodeo, Aquamaster, Eraser AQ, Touchdown Pro, and AquaNeat are related to other commercial terrestrial products like Roundup, but Roundup should not be used for lake weeds because it is not labeled for aquatic use, because it contains a surfactant that is dangerous to aquatic wildlife. This is just one of the many reasons why label directions are important. Remember, the label  is the law!

There are 2 types of aquatic herbicides: Contact and systemic.

Systemic aquatic herbicides work by getting inside the plant and killing it to the root. Contact aquatic herbicides kill only the plant material they touch. Both have their place as aquatic weed killers, both must be applied correctly for optimum results, and neither will solve an aquatic weed problem unless there is proper follow up.

Systemic aquatic herbicides

Systemic herbicides move from one part of a plant to another untill the plant is dead, that is, if  they are applied properly. Keep in mind that too much of a systemic herbicide will cause it to behave like a contact herbicide, killing the top of the plant before the chemical has a chance to trans-locate to the root of the plant. This makes the systemic herbicide no more effective than a contact herbicide for long term control.

Complete control is sometimes difficult even with systemic herbicides, so, if the conditions which allowed for the plants growth initially are not changed, it, or something like it, will return.

Systemic aquatic herbicide list:

  • Butoxyethyl ester of 2,4-D. 2,4-D (granular form): Navigate and Aqua-Kleen
  • Triclopyr: Renovate
  • Glyphosate: Rodeo, Aquamaster, Eraser AQ, Touchdown Pro, and AquaNeat
  • Imazapyr: Habitat
  • Fluridone: Sonar and Avast

Contact aquatic herbicides

Contact herbicides tend to work rapidly killing only the plant material that they contact. Keep in mind that this is the sole extent of the herbicidal activity. If you apply this to one part of a single plant, it will kill only that part. You can expect the plant to return at some point if it is peranial, or if good growing conditions exist.

Contact aquatic herbicide list:

  • Alkylamine Salt of Endothall: Hydrothol 191
  • Compound copper: Cutrine Plus, K-Tea, Captain, Clearigate, Nautique, Komeen
  • Copper Sulfate: Sold under many names. Sold mostly as a crystal
  • Dipotassium Salts of Endothal: Aquathol, Aquathol K, and Aquathol Super K
  • Diquat: Reward
  • Sodium Carbonate Peroxyhydrate: GreenClean, PAK27, and Phycomycin

All products are not equal! Lake weeds should be properly identified before choosing an aquatic weed killer, and then, and only then can a proper course of treatment be undertaken. There may be restrictions on the use of a particular product in your area.

Barley Straw Pond Algae Control: How To


Barley straw can be an effective treatment for the prevention of blanket weed pond scum, pond algae, but there are a few caveats and precautions to keep in mind. Barley straw pond algae control is not always the best method of pond algae control. Read the list of precautions, and decide for yourself. Instructions on the use of barley straw pond algae control, including the proper methods are given below.

Barley straw will not:

  • Eliminate existing pond scum
  • Work in muddy water
  • Work in water with low oxygen
  • Work only against bad pond algae production

Barley straw will:

  • Decompose, adding nutrients to the water
  • Use oxygen during decomposition
  • Kill all forms of algae, including phytoplankton
Barley straw only works to prevent pond algae, not to kill it, and will not work in certain conditions like muddy water and low oxygen. It will decompose and use oxygen during the process which can be fatal to fish if too much decomposition occurs too quickly. Decomposition also produces nitrogen which can act as a fertilizer for future weeds and algae production, which will increase in the newly cleared water. Barley straw will decrease phytoplankton production resulting in water clarity, and a lack of food for fish as well as allowing sunlight to penetrate to the bottom, which can result in more pond algae and lake weed production after the barley is gone. A proper fertility program to promote the growth of phytoplankton should be put in place to prevent such an outcome. Once a good fertility program is in place and ongoing, the need for any pond algae treatment will evaporate in most cases.
With all of these possibilities in mind, this is the process you can use to apply barley straw to a pond or lake for the treatment of pond algae:

Amount of barley straw to use

If pond scum is a recurring problem, 100, to 250 pounds of barley straw per surface acres can be used for preventing unwanted lake algae. A surface acre, is 43,560 square feet. To determine the size of your pond or lakes surface area, multiply the number of feet from side to side, with the number of feet end to end. The numbers do not have to be precise, just as close as possible. If the ends or sides are not equal distances, simply average the distance of both sides, and the distance of both ends before multiplying. This should be close enough for a barley straw treatment.

How to apply barley straw

Separate the barley into equal units, and place it in weighted mesh bags, rolls of hardware cloth, or cages, and sink them around the pond. A string or rope tied to the bags and a stake will help in retrieval. 50 pound onion bags or gunny sacks work well, you can stuff about 6 to 8 pounds of barley straw in an onion bag or gunny sack.

Where to place barley straw

Barley straw will only be effective in oxygenated water, which limits placement to the edges and close to the surface, so do not submerge the straw more than a few inches below the surface or it will simply rot without producing the desired effect. See also: Using Barley Straw As A Blanket Weed Treatment and Barley Straw Pond Algae Treatment Drawbacks

Aquatic Invasive Species Control

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Too many weeds can spoil a lake, and make fishing difficult, if not impossible. There is one thing that is worse: Too many of one type of weed. When this begins to happen, there is a danger of having this pond or lake become a monoculture. Some weeds tend toward domination. Many of the most dominant weeds in U.S. ponds and lakes are exotic aquatic invasive species like Hydrilla and Giant Salvinia, and most of them are a serious threat to the necessary biodiversity of our ponds and lakes in America.

Aquatic biodiversity

Why is aquatic biodiversity so important? The culture of a lake or pond is complex, with one species dependent on another for food, cover, and a variety of other natural products and services. Removing any one natural species from the mix can unbalance the habitat, and break important links in the biological chain. Think of it as a domino effect. The introduction of aquatic invasive species in a pond or lake will remove and replace some of the native species on which other native species depend.

Exotic lake weed threat is real and present

Aquatic invasive species are already a serious threat to fishing in some public lakes. The list of public lakes and large areas of public lakes which are closed for fishing, at least for a time, grows every year.  Because of this, the threat of continued and accelerate spreading is ever present, and measures should be taken by every private pond and lake owner to avoid introduction into their own ponds or lakes.

Aquatic invasive species control

The best method for dealing with aquatic invasive species, is the best method for dealing with any problem: Prevention! Preventing exotic lake weeds, like preventing auto accidents, disease, or forest fires is much better than treating the aftermath.

Preventing aquatic invasive species: Lake condition

The lake condition prevention method for exotic lake weeds is the same as for native lake weeds. Decrease the likelihood of sunlight reaching the bottom of the pond where most lake weeds get their start by raising the water level, dredging, or producing algae bloom to color the water. Unfortunately, due to the extremely aggressive nature of some exotic lake weeds, and the fact that there are some exotic lake weeds that float on the water surface and therefore cannot be completely controlled or prevented in this way. Aggressive efforts should be taken to keep these invaders out to begin with.

Preventing aquatic invasive species: Keeping exotic weeds out

Keeping exotic lake weeds out of your pond or lake is a matter of vigilance. It is that simple. If you have used your boat, recreational watercraft's like jet skis, fishing equipment, and even recreational equipment like 4 wheelers that might have traveled through the edge of another lake, you should give anything that went on or near the water a complete and thorough inspection and cleaning before you hit the road. Check everything visually before reintroducing your equipment into your own lake. Even a small piece of Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia, or many other exotics can be enough to start an invasion that can eat your lake! Vegetative reproduction rates can be as high as 51%.  Some exotic lake weeds can go from 1 plant to 60,000 in less than a month, so pay close attention to cleanup.

Lake Maintenance By Season


Property never stops needing something, and property maintenance never takes a break. Even in the dead of winter, there is something that needs to be done. Where lakes and ponds are the properties in question, this is may be more of a truth than some other areas of your property.

Spring lake maintenance

Fertilization of ponds and lakes should start as early as possible in the spring. This will not only jump start your fish, but it will also add that nice green tint that phytoplankton pond algae gives the water. This will shade the bottom, and keep weeds and pond scum from having a chance to get an early start. This program of fertilization should be carried out every couple of weeks until the end of summer, or until a secchi disk disappears at less than 18 inches. Spring is also the perfect time to get a handle on those aquatic weeds and string algae problems that may have beaten you to the punch. You should stay on top of this until the problem is gone. If you do this right, and follow up promptly and correctly, you might just avoid the annual weed takeover. Pay attention to the label directions, especially with regard to temperatures so you don't end up wasting costly chemicals if the weather is too cold. This should also give you the opportunity to do the most important part of lake ownership: Enjoy it!

Summer lake maintenance

If you need a fertilization program, you should continue it throughout the summer. If you have lake weed problems at this stage, handle them as soon as possible, and use good follow up, and again, enjoy the lake.

Fall lake maintenance

Test your pond pH. If the pH needs to be raised, now is a good time to find out, and start making plans to add lime late in the fall, or during the winter. By this time, your lake weed problems should either be solved for the year, or the weeds should be too mature to properly treat. Manual or mechanical removal is about the only way to deal with them at this stage. This is also a good time to think about things like dredging, draw down, or raising the water level. It is also the best time to start putting together plans for improvements to docks, slips, boathouses, pump houses and other lake and pond buildings.

Winter lake maintenance

If you did your planning in the fall, you should now have all the materials and plans laid out for late fall, and early winter lake projects, so just jump in and get started. If you plan to draw the lake down for dock repairs, dredging, or weed removal, don't lime beforehand. It will be possible to do a more effective job during the draw down stage. Just do all your maintenance and building work, dredging, or whatever else you planned on doing, and lime when your done and before you start raising the water level. If you don't plan a draw down, lime the pond if it needs it, and if you haven't already done so.

How To Fertilize A Pond Or Lake


So, you have had a few problems with your pond or lake that seem to indicate that you need a little extra fertility. Maybe what tipped you off was:

  • Poor fishing
  • Skinny fish
  • Low fish population
  • Excessive pond algae like blanket weed or pond scum
  • Excessive lake weed growth

Whatever it was that tipped you off, you have come to the conclusion that something has to be done to increase fish production, get rid of lake weeds and pond scum, and prevent these problems in the future.

  • You have done your homework.
  • You have tested the water clarity of your lake and solved any problems related to soil particles in the water.
  • You have checked the pH and corrected it if needed.
  • You have water which is too clear to support aquatic life, so you know that you need to produce algae bloom, and you know that that means you need to fertilize your lake.

How do you fertilize a pond or lake?

There are several suitable methods for pond and lake fertilization, but let me start off with a few cautionary statements.

Liquid pond fertilizer

Liquid fertilizer should be mixed with water before being applied to a lake or pond. The liquid fertilizer will be heavier than the water it is being applied to, and will sink to the bottom where it will probably either be neutralized, or initiate unwanted plant growth.

Keep fertilizer clear of outflow

If you are using buckets or platforms suspended in the water to slowly dissolve fertilizer, make sure that they are not close to your spillway or drain pipe. This could result in the majority of your fertilizer ending up downstream.

Simple pond fertilizer method

If you are using fertilizer in plastic bags, you can lay the bag in shallow water, 2 to 3 feet deep, and slit the top lengthwise and across to allow the fertilizer to dissolve.

Fertilizer platform

If you are using a submerged platform, the platform should be about 1 to 2 feet below the surface of the water, and the proper amount of granular fertilizer can be dumped onto the platform and allowed to dissolve at it’s own rate.

Fertilizer in a bucket

The same result can be attained by suspending a 5 gallon bucket full of fertilizer with small holes drilled into the sides from a dock. be sure that it is one to 2 feet deep.

Fertilizer products formulated for ponds and lakes

There are a lot of newer fertilizer products on the market specifically designed for pond and lake fertilization that offer other options such as finely ground granules. These products come with instructions and label directions.

Special aquatic weed control note:

It is important to start fertilization early in the spring. If algae bloom is in place before weeds and filamentous pond algae have a chance to get started, this will decrease the amount of weed control needed for the pond. See also: Lake Fertilization

Pond Algae And Water Clarity

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The relationship between pond algae and water clarity can seem a little confusing for a pond owner. Clear water is not always good water, and one type of pond algae is the best prevention method for undesirable pond algae. There are many types of pond algae, some desirable, and some not.

If pond algae, of the pond scum or blanket weed type is forming a dense mat on your pond or small lake, there is about a 98% chance that the water beneath the mat is crystal clear. Check it out, and then come back, and I will tell you how I know this.

Back so soon?

It was clear wasn’t it? How do I know? Simple. Pond algae needs sunlight to grow. Pond algae needs soil to grow. For sunlight to reach the bottom of your pond, where pond algae gets it start in life, the water has to be clear. As the pond algae grows, some of the oxygen it produces by photosynthesis is deposited on the bottom of the mat of forming pond scum, and gives it the buoyancy to rise to the top of the pond. Submersed pond weeds, and blanket weed pond algae need clear water to produce, and in spite of all the thousands of products on the market that tout the virtues of clear water, and why their product will produce clear water, clear water is not desirable in a pond or lake where fish are producing.

Types of unclear water

Let’s make a distinction between types of unclear water. Do not confuse muddy or turbid water with the properly green colored water produced in a healthy pond or lake. Muddy water is not healthy water. In fact, water containing suspended soil particles is bad for the fish population. It is an irritant to fish, which causes them to feed less, fidget more, and often lose weight. It also prevents the natural photosynthesis process needed for the food chain. No, the water color needed for a healthy fish pond has a green tint, that will prevent sunlight from reaching more than 18 to 24 inches below the surface. There are products on the market that will color the water to prevent sunlight from reaching the bottom, but they have the same issue that makes muddy water undesirable. They suspend the food chain activity. So what is this magic color that prevents sunlight and provides the beginning of the food cycle?


Phytoplankton is a single cell algae that becomes suspended in lake and pond water, and is important for what it produces and what it prevents.

Oxygen production

Phytoplankton produces oxygen through photosynthesis which becomes available to aquatic life. Without oxygen in the water, your fish will die.

Shade and cooling

The phytoplankton type of pond algae provides shade for the water which helps to keep it cool. This is very important in the hotter parts of our country during the summer months.

Food production

  • Phytoplankton is the food source for the tiny creatures known as zoo-plankton
  • Zoo-plankton becomes food for insects
  • Insects become food for small fish
  • Small fish become food for large fish
  • Large fish become food for you.

Weed and pond algae prevention

The tinting effect of phytoplankton prevents sunlight from reaching the pond bottom, which prevents pond algae and submersed weed problems.

Producing phytoplankton

So, how can you produce this miracle pond product? First: If you have a heavy cover of lake weeds or pond algae, get rid of it.

Check the water color.

You can do this with a tin foil pie pan nailed to the end of a stick, although a more accurate measure can be attained using a “secchi disk” designed specially for this. Either way, if you can see the disk or pan at a depth greater than 18 to 24 inches, your pond is too clear to be healthy.

Test the waters pH

You can do this with a swimming pool test kit that you can purchase at most places that sell pool supplies. If the pH is between 8.6 and 6.8 you can go on to the next step. If it is lower than 6.8, the acidity is too high and will need to be changed before the next step. Agricultural limestone will correct the problem. I ton of agricultural limestone on one surface acre of water will raise the pH by 1 point on average. If you have a 1 acre pond, and the pH is 4.8, you will need at least 2 tons of limestone to bring your pond up to the minimum pH needed for healthy aquatic life. Do this before taking the next step.

Fertilize your pond

Fertilization will produce algae bloom, or phytoplankton in your pond. The right fertilizer is a fertilizer high in phosphorous and low in the other 2 elements. Phosphorous is the middle number in the 3 numbers listed on a bag of fertilizer. You need to add 40 lbs of 20% phosphorous, or 20 lbs of 40% phosphorous, or something similar in ratio per acre to initiate algae bloom. See also: How To Fertilize A Pond Or Lake

Pond Management Cost


We are often asked about pond management cost. To give you some idea of the cost, think about it in relation to what you spend on your lawn. If you hire someone to do it for you, the cost will be higher than if you do the work yourself. Of course, either way, you will have expenses, like equipment costs and maintenance, fertilizers and other amendments, and pest control products. The same is true of your lake or pond, and the similarities in cost may amaze you!

The right pond for you

It would be great if you had the perfect lake. You know, that perfect pond, just right for your needs, with just the right size, and just the right depth to produce your favorite game fish, or operate your favorite water craft, or for family recreational swimming. That would be great, but it is not likely to happen unless you build your own pond on your own property. Even if you built your own, you would still have problems, and you would still have to practice pond management to keep it the way you want it. More and more home buyers are purchasing property with farm or ranch ponds or lakes on them, and like many other parts of property ownership, the cost of maintaining such amenities can be an unexpected expense. The fact is, that you probably inherited your lake by buying the property on which it exists, and there is a huge possibility that it came to you in pretty sad condition, and that it is not exactly what you would have chosen if you had the option. Your pond may have been a farm pond or ranch stock tank, or an irrigation reservoir never intended to be used for the purposes you have in mind. It has likely not been used for any human purposes in some time, and was probably not maintained in any human sense of the word for some time.

Ponds need management

Contrary to popular belief, a man made pond or lake will not take care of itself in any manner remotely related to the needs of human beings. It will silt in, become overgrown, become home to undesirable wildlife, and may even become a health hazard. For human purposes, a pond or lake needs human maintenance. That is where you have to begin. In short, the perfect pond or lake for you is the one you own! To get it into the condition you want, and to develop it into what you want it to be, will require some sound pond management practices.

Property management costs

There are many hidden costs that come with home and property ownership. There are home owner association fees, taxes, home owners insurance, lawn maintenance, and home repairs that can make home ownership a little more expensive than it seems on the surface. Most new property owners have some idea of the costs of lawn care, and taxes and insurance, but may not realize that ponds and lakes require maintenance as well, and that the cost of pond management can be equal to, or greater than the cost of maintaining a similar sized lawn.

Pond management cost

Intensive pond management

The average lawn size in the United States is about 10,000 square feet. That is a little less than 1/4 of an acre. The average cost of maintaining that amount of lawn is about $50.00 per week, or $200.00 per month, or $2,400.00 per year. That would translate into about $9,600.00 per acre for intensive lake or pond maintenance. If a property owner has a 1 acre pond, he can reasonably expect to spend almost $10,000.00 per year on intensive professional pond management or lake care per year. This may be a little unsettling for the property owner, but it is something that should be considered before purchasing property with a pond or lake, and budgeted for if the property owner already has such a property.

Average pond management

In reality, most ponds and lakes are maintained fairly well with management equal to the cost of a similar area in pasture land. Mowing an acre of pastureland in our area of operation usually costs around $40.00 to $50.00 per acre, per mowing. This can be multiplied by the number of acres, and the number of times it is mowed for a year. So, if we have a one acre area, which needs to be mowed 6 times per year, we come up with an average figure of $270.00 per year of basic care. Ponds, like lawns and pastures benefit from some mineral and chemical applications to keep the beneficial plants alive and growing, and to keep the weeds away. A rough average of such costs would lead to a figure approximating the cost of mowing, so the total cost would be something around $500.00 to $600.00 per acre, per year to maintain an acre of land, or an acre of water at a reasonable level. Of course the property owner has options for pond management, and much of it can be accomplished "in house" for much less money with the right information, and that is why we are here. See also: Lake Restoration

Lake Restoration

Lake Restoration Basics


Most people don't have the luxury of having a lake in perfect condition. In fact, most folks buy a property with an existing lake, and have to figure out how to manage it afterward. Most are not even aware that a lake needs management, but they soon learn that lakes, like lawns and landscapes do not manage themselves, and will require attention similar in financial scope to maintaining an equivalent size lawn. In other words, an acre of water costs about as much to maintain as an acre of lawn. The similarities don't end there. If you purchase a home with a lawn that has not been adequately cared for, you will probably have to do some lawn restoration. If you purchase a property that has a lake which has not been properly maintained you will need to perform some basic lake restoration. These are only the basic elements that can be handled without major work. There are several areas you will need to give proper attention.

Lake depth

The depth of the lake is very important. If the lake is too shallow lake weeds and pond algae may be a serious problem, boating and other recreational activities may also be difficult. To determine the average depth, and map out the most shallow and deepest parts, you can use a standard depth finder, and cross the lake several times from both directions to map it out. If you don't have a depth finder, you can do this the old fashioned way with a plumb line. This method involves a string with a weight on one end and knots tied every foot. Draw out a grid pattern of the lake, and follow this using the string line to "sound" the bottom, marking the depth on your map as you go. The more times you cross, the more soundings you take, the more accurate your map and depth information. Not only will this allow you to know the overall depth of the lake, it will also give you an account of how much water it holds, (important if you need to do an aquatic herbicide treatment based on parts per million) but it will show shallow spots to avoid when boating, and deeper spots which some fish prefer at certain times of the year. You can then use this information for any dredging operations you might want to do, and to improve fishing.

Increasing lake depth

There are only two ways to make a lake deeper. You can remove soil from the bottom, or you can add water. Dredging can be difficult and expensive, and raising the water level should be approached with caution. To raise the water level, you will need to make sure that the dam is adequate to handle the rising water level. If the lake is equipped with an overflow pipe to drain excess water, this pipe can be extended by the amount you want to reach. If it uses a spillway, the spillway will need to be increased in height to reach the depth you desire. This type of change borders on serious lake restoration , and may require professional assistance. Before doing anything of this nature, the dam should be inspected, and there are a few other things that should be done.
  • Any bottom cleanup, like removing obstructions and rubble should be done while the water is shallow, or when the lake is drained.
  • Weed problems may be easier to solve when the water is at a lower level.
  • If you plan to do a fish audit, it will probably be easier to do at lower water depths.

Water quality

If the lake is at the water level you desire, you should check the water for several factors.


If the pH is between 6.8 and 8.6 it should be fine. If it is below 6.8 the water is to acidic, and pH should be raised by liming.


Turbidity is the problem of soil particles suspended in the lakes water. If this is an issue, then something should be done to reduce the flow of soil particles into the lake. The most common source of this problem is bare ground in the watershed. The watershed should have vegetation, if it doesn't, you should supply it. If the problem is on someone else s property, you may need to plant a vegetative barrier between your lake and neighboring property, especially if the offending property is adjacent to the lake intake.

Light penetration

When light penetrates to the bottom of a lake, all sorts of undesirable characteristics can develop. Pond algae and lake weeds start at the bottom. Even if your lake is pretty deep, sunlight can reach the bottom in the shallow areas. The best means of preventing these problems is algae bloom. Algae bloom, or phytoplankton suspended in the water profile can prevent the sunlight from reaching the bottom of the lake, thereby preventing weeds an pond scum from becoming a nuisance. Phytoplankton has added benefits, it is the start of the lakes food chain, produces usable oxygen in the water, and keeps the water cooler. Algae bloom is produced by fertilization. To know whether or not your lake should be fertilized, you should take a secchi reading. A secchi disk is an 8 inc black and white disk. If the disk is visible deeper than 24 inches, you need fertilizer. If it disappears before it reaches 18 inches, you probably have another problem, excessive fertility.

Lake vegetation

Excessive vegetation in lakes is the most common problem facing lake owners in my neck of the woods. Any serious lake restoration will involve dealing with undesirable and excessive vegetation. This can be done by mechanical means, or by the use of herbicides at the earliest possible stages as mentioned above. To prevent future infestations, the issues of water depth and fertility should be used.