5 Critical Reasons for Using Gravel in a Pond

When your customers ask why you add gravel to the bottom of the pond, do you pull up a chair and dive into a long, scientific explanation that leaves them wishing they’d never asked?  The “gravel bottom pond debate” (to use gravel or not to use gravel) has been ongoing for many years, but there are 5 critical reasons for gravel that are really quite easy to comprehend.


1. Enhances the Ecosystem

First and foremost, gravel provides a habitat for beneficial microorganisms in the pond. Fish, crustaceans, and aquatic insects feed on these minute organisms, as well as bacteria and algae that live on the rocky shore. These bacteria help break down decaying plant matter and fish waste, turning it into usable plant nutrition, which is then consumed by pond plants over and over again in the aquatic “circle of life.” 

Without the rocks and gravel, the bacteria would not thrive and the decaying plant matter and fish waste would accumulate on the pond bottom, getting deeper and deeper. This is the muck that you slip on if you’ve ever walked in a pond without rocks and gravel. Far less muck accumulates when you have rocks and gravel in a pond, which also means less maintenance.


Gravel on the bottom of an ecosystem koi pond


2. Naturalizes the Pond

Rocks and gravel are used to naturalize a water feature, create waterfalls, and increase the biological activity in and around the entire pond. Rocks and gravel create a natural feel for the entire water garden. And simply put, they’re an important ingredient in the overall ecosystem pond recipe.


3. Protects Liner from Sun

Have you ever placed a couch in front of a window only to groan in dismay months later when you see how the sun’s rays have faded the color?  Pond liner is also susceptible to the sun’s ultra violet rays. You protect the liner from its worst enemy when you cover it with gravel, thereby increasing the liner’s longevity.


Gravel on the bottom of an ecosystem koi pond


4. Holds Liner in Place

Just like you use a rock to keep a napkin from blowing away at your family picnic, installing gravel over pond liner helps to hold the liner in place. If you don’t use rock and gravel, air bubbles can form underneath, and on occasion, pond liner can bubble up over the surface of the pond creating a Loch Ness monster of sorts.


5. Prevents Slipping

Have you ever stepped into a pond without gravel on the bottom?  Unprotected liner is very slippery and if pond owners like to wade in their pond to trim aquatic plants or get up close and personal with their fish, stepping on small gravel is much safer.

Remember these 5 important reasons the next time you’re asked why gravel is important for an ecosystem pond. Not only do rocks and gravel help to maintain the balance of a healthy pond, but it protects the liner and acts as a safety feature, as well.


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