Small ponds allow people to interact with a special part of nature. Ponds that contain a balance of plants and wildlife provide a place to observe how a natural habitat forms. Water attracts amphibians and birds, many of whom will bring along plant seeds. However, if you have a pond in your backyard, you are not limited to the role of a spectator--join in the fun by swimming, gardening and fishing in your pond.
Fishing ponds provide recreation and natural beauty to the backyard. In relatively warm climates, such as Tennessee, fishing ponds run a maximum of 10 to 12 feet deep, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Steep slopes may help to deter wading birds from eating your fish. The specific make-up of fish to stock in the pond involves knowing what fish you want to catch and what those fish need to stay alive and healthy. For example, some pond owners need to stock small fish as food for their larger fish. A variety of well-chosen fish will provide fishing opportunities for most of the year. Adding plants in and around the pond helps the pond and its inhabitants to sustain themselves with a minimum amount of maintenance by the owner.
A small pond has as much potential for gardening as any plot of dry land. Ponds support a myriad of plant life. Combine plants with wildlife and create a self-supporting ecosystem. Pond plants grow along the banks, anchor to the bottom and float freely on the surface of the pond. As with terrestrial plants, gardeners select water plants for their appearance and function in the landscape. Pond gardeners must monitor plant growth to ensure that the plants are not growing too big for the pond and endangering the balance of oxygen and nutrients in the water. Many water plants are seasonal, and gardeners take advantage of these plants to create year-round interest. Plants provide a smooth transition between the land and the pond area when pond owners use plants with similar features on land and in and near the water.
Clean, clear water are the key ingredients for a swimming pond. Swimming ponds have a minimum amount of plants and aquatic life in them to disturb swimmers. However, some plant and aquatic life in the pond will help to keep the pond clear and healthy. Personal preference will influence the exact proportion of plants and animals in a swimming pond. The Washtenaw County Conservation District in Michigan suggests that swimming ponds should be at least 10 to 15 feet deep. The sides should slope no more than 3 feet horizontally for every vertical foot, a 3 to 1 slope. In designated swimming areas, the agency recommends a slope of 8 to 1 for gradual entry into the pond.