Ducks are waterfowl and having access to water is important for their health and happiness. For the past few months, our flock of twelve ducks has been using a small kiddie pool to satisfy their unquenchable desire to swim, bathe and splash.
Nothing is wrong with using a kiddie pool for ducks, but we wanted to dig a pond for our ducks that would blend into our landscape and have a more organic appearance, as well as provide more surface area for them to spread out in.
Ryan picked up a rectangular 7 x 10 foot, puncture-resistant pond liner at Home Depot. First, we measured out the area for our pond. Because we need about a foot on each side as a “shelf” for our rocks to sit on and to allow for the pond’s depth, we figured our finished pond would be about 5×8 feet. We marked an outline with the shovels and began digging. To help the ducks enter and exit the pond, the shelf for the rocks sits down a few inches from ground level and we made the sides slope gently. We chose large, smooth, flatter rocks for the pond as duck feet are sensitive and prone to a disease called bumblefoot if they walk across small, sharp rocks on a regular basis.Even though our liner is rectangular, we dug an oval shape. This leaves some extra liner on the corners, but we may eventually plant some duck-resistant plants around these corners, if such a thing exists. I’m experimenting with deer-resistant plants around the yard to see if the ducks will keep their bills off them. We were able to replace some pieces of sod around the rocks to help keep the dirt in place and hopefully encourage the vegetation to get reestablished.
The pond is now ready for water.
With the hose running, we have thoroughly piqued the ducks’ interest. They simply cannot resist water! These birds will seek cover from sun and come out to bask during the rain. Their love of water cannot be overstated. But ducks tend to be highly skeptical of anything out of the ordinary. Once, when we cleaned out their kiddie pool and filled it with sparkling, clean water, they eyed it suspiciously and refused to enter the pool for hours. We expected no less with this new pond.
The ducks waddled to one side, stopped and looked. Then they waddled to another side and stopped to look. The kids began guessing which duck would be the first to brave this foreign apparition…but then the ducks left. The pond has been deemed too scary for the moment. It wasn’t until some rain rolled through while we were inside for a lunch break that we discovered the ducks excitedly swimming and splashing in their new pond.
We chose to forego a pump and filter for our duck pond. Ducks drag so much dirt and muck into their water source that pumps and filters get clogged and broken down. We decided to keep our pond small so emptying the water with buckets, which is what we did with our kiddie pool, and refilling with the hose is manageable. Plus, we can distribute the water wherever we’d like, such as the trees and berry plants in our nearby orchard. For a pond that doesn’t need to be cleaned out periodically, a diverse ecosystem including fish and plants is needed to keep the water clean, and we decided to not take on that project at this point.
Watching the ducks play in the pond is something we consider great entertainment. They bob, dive, splash and swim until finally they decide they’ve had enough so out they waddle to dry ground, where they proceed to preen, flap and groom. Just when they’ve gotten every last feather dry, clean and primped, that’s when they decide it’s high time for another splash in the pond.