You know those milk commercials where famous people have a left-behind milk moustache? That moustache is the by-product of a natural process – drinking a great glass of milk a little too fast.
A beautiful pond can have a similar by-product of its natural processes. All ponds – whether created by nature or by man – go through a natural life cycle transforming them from pond to swamp to marsh and finally to prairie. This process begins when organic debris like branches, leaves, weeds and other products from nature are blown or dropped into the water. The naturally occurring bacteria in the shallow areas are able to decompose this material quickly. But the anaerobic bacteria in the deeper areas are not able to keep up with all that’s deposited there.
Over time that decomposing matter at the bottom becomes a nutrient-rich bio mass called MUCK. Muck builds up in the bottom of the pond, creating ideal conditions for the massive algae and weed growth that will turn a beautiful pond into an ugly eyesore. Treating the pond with herbicides and other chemicals works at first. So do aerators. But eventually the biomass at the bottom will win out, and the pond will fill with muck. Ultimately the muck will turn the pond into a marsh, crowding out fish and other aquatic wildlife.
So, how do you get rid of that "muck-stache" and restore your pond to its original state? The traditional solution involves draining the pond and allowing the muck to dry out completely. Then bulldozers and draglines are brought in to mechanically remove the remaining organic material. Of course, this means you either have to find a way to temporarily relocate the pond’s eco-system or risk destroying it completely.
When we were faced with this situation for our pond at Q Center, we went in search of a more environmentally-friendly approach. And we’re pleased to say we found one!
Richard Kohutko is the president and founder of Organic Sediment Removal (OSR) Systems, an environmentally-friendly pond cleaning company located in Necedah, Wisconsin. Several years ago, Mr. Kohutko developed an eco-friendly system for cleaning ponds. The OSR system involves highly-trained divers who begin by manually removing weeds and other debris from the pond bottom. Then they use hydraulic pumps to remove the muck into a nearby porous bag. Once dried, the nutrient-rich silt that remains can be used to fertilize landscape beds.
Not only is the environmental impact minimzed, but you get a usable by-product so there's no waste!
Our pond restoration project began in September when OSR came to Q Center to clean the stream that feeds our pond. You can see a few photos here on the blog and more here on our flickr stream. We’ll keep you updated next year as the project resumes.
What are your green landscaping challenges? Speak your mind by leaving a comment below. We may have a solution!