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Pond Information for the Ontario Homeowner

Ever since my days as a child I remember pictures of children swinging on a rope from a tree and landing in a pond or river. Water is a great attractor and has become exceedingly important when buying country property! It is one thing that we have plenty of in the Caledon Hills and surrounding area.

Over the years, certain things become very apparent. Such as the clarity of the water, the depth and size of the pond and whether or not there is mud on the bottom or weeds and algae. The clarity problem can be fixed very quickly if the pond is deep enough, by throwing in some fast dispersant dye early in the spring which will, in twenty minutes, colour the pond a deep azure blue. The dye is totally inert and does not affect the fish, humans can drink it, and the colour of the dye eliminates the ultra violet rays of the sun from penetrating the water and therefore there will not be any algae or weeds.

A quarter acre pond 18 feet deep will need only 2 to three doses per season. That means that 2,000,000 gallons of water are protected and make for great swimming and sun bathing or just watching the activity on the surface such as the dragon flies, water beetles and listening to the cicadas.

Ponds have two major sources of supply, either streams or springs sometimes several dozen of them, streams are no longer allowed as a supply of water for a pond because they can allow runoff during storms and the runoff may be contaminated by e-coli, coli form or fertilizer all of which will affect the quality of the water.

The deeper the pond the better are the chances of getting more springs and the other very important thing is that the deeper the pond the better it is for the fish and their survival rate in a hot summer because the fish will go where it is colder, to the bottom of the pond.

Ideal Pond Depth

Ten Feet?

Invariably the question arises about how deep one should dig.  Ten feet may be economical, but it has been my experience that this is not nearly deep enough.  In the hotter days of summer, the bottom becomes as warm as the surface, with the result that your trout may not survive.  Trout prefer colder temperatures as do most fish native to Ontario.  The exception is bass.  They appear to shand the heat much beter than most fish.

Seventeen Feet!

A very real barometer from there and deeper will almost invarialbe assure healthy trout no matter how hot or what time of year.  Fishing for them changes dramatically in the summer when you must wait 2 to 4 minutes for your fly to reach the fish at the bottom of the pond. It is adviable to use weight forward sinking lines to get the fly down quickly.

When to dig a Pond

Summer is really the best time.  The timing also depends on how busy the pond crew are and their availability.  The pond crew know all abou the timing and the fear that the job is not going to get done in a timely manner. 

Winter is definitely not the time to dig a pond!  The contractor may tell you they're less busy, and thus your project will be cheaper to complete, but keep in mind there will be more breakdowns, delays and the chance of collateral damage to your property will increase.


Check the zoning (NEC, CVC, town, municipal jurisdiction).  Don't just believe your pond advisers when they say you have nothing to worry about in regards to getting a permit.  Some may even go so far as to say you don't need one.  Don't believe them.


The other important thing to think about is how you want to finish the edge of the pond.  The effects of using different materials can be quite dramatic, but of course this affects the cost and the installation time.  Also keep in mind that some products will require maintenance which is both time consuming and potentially costly.

Ontario Stewardship and Fleming College developed this handy guide for constructing a pond.