By Mike Gannon
Some projects are just more enjoyable than others – and this was one of the fun ones.
We were called to a property in Bridgehampton, N.J., where the homeowner had amassed a large collection of ducks, geese and other birds (including some peacocks). The creatures occupied a large area in the big backyard – but a washtub had been the only available watering hole to that point and was so inadequate that something really had to be done.
The video linked below tells the story in good detail, but there are a couple points I’d like to emphasize in the event any of you run up against a similar project.
First of all, waterfowl will foul the water, big time. This is why we supplemented the waterfall’s substantial aerating capabilities with a generously sized underwater air-injection system: Keeping the water oxygenated is important – and so is keeping it moving throughout the pond. This need for waste management is also why we also beefed up the wetland-style filtration system and filled it with plenty of plants that have reputations for being effective absorbers of the sort of nutrients a large group of ducks will inevitably leave behind.
Second, this was a case where we sacrificed a little bit on the aesthetic side to make the pond functional and readily accessible not only to the birds but also to those who will get involved in maintaining the pond. As a result, the edges are less varied and have been planted more sparsely than would ordinarily be the case. (As compensation, however, the wetland area is teeming with plant life.)
Finally, it’s very important in these ponds to include a beach-style entry. We’ve all seen videos of families of ducks that have wandered into swimming pools and the gyrations involved in helping the little ones get back out again: Our design in this case deals with the access and egress of birds of all types, sizes and ages.
As you’ll see toward the end of the video, ducks don’t take to water as easily as the old saying would have it. But once they overcame their initial fear of their new pond, they were comfortable in it within a few minutes and acted as though it had always been there – just the effect we were after.
To see the project unfold from washtub to finished pond, click here.