Got a duck pond without a pond liner? Welcome to a new battle against the vigorous and chaotic nature of waterfowl. Learning to harness the true power of adding ducks to your edible landscape or food garden is a steep learning curve. We’re duck parents now and are on the journey to creating the most quacktastic duck pond we are able to.

Buff Ducklings In Pet Carrier with Duck Keeper

I suppose you may have ended up here because you decided to plug your natural pond by using ducks to gley it. Which is a wonderful and effective way to create a natural, unlined pond and let your garden ducks earn their keep. But it’s been a couple months now and your duck pond is sending up an unholy funk. The water level of your duck pond is rising though, so you are a bit conflicted.

Your ducks are already eating small rocks to help grind up their food so it’s inevitable that whatever comes out will end up in the pond

It’s true, isn’t it? We all know the ducks aren’t going to be selective about when is the time to let their butt paste loose. So, tiny rocks, sand, and grit are already ending up in your duck pond, whether you’ve seen them or not. Since ducks also widen the pond by eating away at the soft sides of it, rooting around for bugs and worms, rocks that are unearthed by their efforts also end up falling into the pond.

So, in truth, you are just speeding up the process by adding rocks and pea gravel to your natural duck pond.

Summer One With The Hand Dug, Clay Duck Pond

Adding pond rocks and pea gravel to your duck pond will increase the amount of available surface area to process duck waste

This is necessary to help grow any plants that may be in or around the pond, and will help keep them alive by allowing them to process and use the duck waste as quickly as possible, turning them from tiny, weak plants into large, robust monsters that can resist the vigorous and destructive nature of your loving water birds.

It seems that clay is not good at this as the particles of clay are tiny and compact down so that they do not allow air or space in between the particles. That means less surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize so that they are able to break down duck waste. This causes the duck waste to break down slowly, overloading the duck pond and sucking all the oxygen out of it which, if fish are present, will likely kill them.

Though ducks do like to wiggle their bills around in the pond’s sides looking for bugs and other tasty morsels, I am also under the impression that their splashing during play time helps to circulate the water in a similar way to installing a pond filter as they splash the pond’s sides over and over again with water during play time.

Having the pond rocks and gravel along the edges serves the same purpose as it does in a wetland filter and the ducks become little quacking pumps throwing the clay-filled water against the pond shore where it filters down through the rocks and drips back into the pond or is otherwise absorbed by the soil and plants existing in the wetland.

Adding gravel and rocks to your natural duck pond helps replicate a natural pond environment

Pond rocks or pea gravel that are constantly submerged may grow an algae that the ducks love to eat

Why not grow more food for your ducks while also keeping their pond cleaner? I noticed on one of my own ponds that my greedy Indian Runner ducks were very busy cleaning the sides of the pond at top speed. Upon closer investigation, I noticed what appeared to be string algae clinging desperately to every available surface in this little (kiddie pool) pond. I will also note that this little pond used to have jungle val (vallisneria) growing in its dirted floor, alas, certain bottomless waterfowl climbed themselves into the pond and devoured it.

This can be repeated by adding additional surfaces to your own duck pond, not only providing a regular source of fresh greens to your ducks, but also outcompeting floating algae to make for better light penetration to other pond plants growing in the floor of your duck pond.

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