Ponds and lakes

5. Ponds and lakes

Ponds and lakes add to the diversity of habitats on the golf course and can also be functional, perhaps used to store water for irrigation, to slow water flow and reduce flooding, or to cleanse and purify polluted water before it is released into the wider water environment.

 Types of pond

  • Different ponds support different mixes of aquatic species, enhancing the overall ecological value of the golf course.
  • Some ponds may not hold water all year round (termed ‘ephemeral’) but that does not reduce their capability of supporting a wide range of wildlife.
  • Ponds that are shaded by trees and other shrubs may be more valuable than typically thought. Shade may help to reduce dense aquatic plants such as bulrush and keep algae populations under control. More on pond types

Pond Characteristics

  • Water quality determines which organisms are able to utilise the pond and also governs the human uses of the water. ‘Good’ water quality should be able to support an abundant and diverse range of species and should be devoid of any pollution from the golf course. More on water quality
  • The margins of a pond are also important. The shallow water often supports the highest density and diversity of species and bare, damp mud, evident in most ponds during dry periods, provides a niche habitat for many species of invertebrates. More on pond margins
  • Deadwood, rock piles and gravel around the perimeter of a pond can be important in providing habitats for pond wildlife and roots from surrounding trees, such as alder, also provide added shelter. More on marginal habitats
  • Aquatic plants provide food and shelter for an array of animals and so a mix of different plants is essential to support a greater diversity of wildlife. Types of aquatic plants include marginal, emergent, submerged, and floating. More on aquatic plants

Pond maintenance

  • Maintenance depends on whether the pond is specifically for wildlife, or simply as an aesthetic feature/source of water for the golf course.
  • The wildlife value of a pond may be damaged by intensive maintenance. Destroying habitats, dredging, and managing at the wrong time of the year will all have detrimental effects. More on pond maintenance precautions
  • Avoid introducing new animals, they can cause major disruption to the pond ecosystem.
  • If needed, newly introduced plants should consist of native, preferably locally sourced, species such as branched burr reed or water milfoil. Seeds and plants can also be collected from other ponds elsewhere on the course, being careful to avoid introducing any diseases. More on introducing new plants and animals
  • Ponds may require some vegetation removal throughout the year. This should be carried out very carefully, with consideration to removing on a phased basis so as not to disturb any wildlife. More on vegetation removal
  • Algal blooms can be detrimental to pond life, reducing the oxygen supply and sunlight for water-dwelling species. Excess nutrients causing the algae should be identified and removed appropriately through natural or other methods. More on controlling algal growth
  • Non-native invasive aquatic plant species such as Himalayan balsam and Australian swamp stonecrop should not be introduced into a pond. These species grow rapidly and may spread into the local water environment. More on troublesome plant species
  • Physical control of plants should always be attempted before using chemicals. If it is absolutely necessary to use chemical control then do ensure that the chosen chemical is approved for use in or near water.
  • If removing by hand/mechanically, remember to leave any removed native plants on the banks for 24 hours to allow any invertebrates to migrate back to the water. More on controlling aquatic plants

Pond design and construction

  • When considering a new pond feature, good design is key. Firstly, what will the pond be used for? Wildlife, water feature or irrigation? Maybe it could be used to cleanse drainage water. Water quantity and quality may determine what the ponds purpose is.
  • Where will the pond be sited? Preferably choose an area that is currently of little wildlife value. Consider the surrounding habitats too, could a new pond link two isolated habitats?
  • Think about when and how the pond will be constructed. Timing is key and choosing the correct pond liner may alleviate any problems occurring in the years to come.
  • The size, depth, and shape of the pond will determine its ease of access and suitability for wildlife. The health and safety of golfers will also need to be considered when making this decision.
  • Give thought to how any excavated spoil will be disposed of. It will either need to be stored on the golf course or taken away to landfill.
  • How will the pond be maintained once established? This may determine the depth and protection of the pond. Thinking ahead may save time and costs in the future. More details on pond design and construction