Healthy ponds are great for fishing, musing ? even irrigation

By: Gloria Young Home & Garden
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Ponds have been part of Auburn resident Dana Andrews? life for decades. ?For many years we lived on a big property ? 300 acres ? in Placer County,? he said. ?We had ponds and always had drag lines coming out. I ended up buying equipment to clean our ponds. Then someone saw me doing that and asked if I?d clean theirs.? It soon developed into a business, now called DLD Service. ?We basically are anything that has to do with ponds, creeks and waterways,? Andrews said. ?We build ponds. We clean ponds. We clear creeks. We install irrigation systems (connected to) ponds.? His focus is earthen ponds at least 30 feet by 80 feet in diameter that usually have some features ? a pump or dock or they are used for fish. ?Many of our customers have ponds so they can fish and enjoy the environment around it,? he said. When planning a new pond, he goes to the site to see where it will be installed, then produces a custom drawing (or several) of designs that fit the space. ?I have to know what the customer wants and then will (plan) something the ground and land will allow,? he said. ?We don?t usually do square, rectangular or round ponds. We use an undulating (look) to give up some kind of shape so it looks unique.? That unique look also extends to the levees. ?We give them almost a golf course look,? he said. ?They looked tucked in and have very gradual shorelines ? usually a slight mounding to give them a natural look.? Cost to install a pond ranges from $8,500 for the most basic to ?several hundred thousand,? he said. Extras like a dock, bridge or water feature add to the cost. He estimates he has installed or worked on about 500 ponds ? many of them repairs and cleanups. Take care of your pond and it will reward you as a beautiful addition to the landscape. But neglect it, and you will quickly have problems. Overgrowth is the most common complaint. What Andrews sees most frequently are cattails, Eurasian water milfoil and mesquite fern (also known as azolla). ?Eurasian milfoil can grow at incredible depths,? he said. ?When infestation takes over, it looks like evergreens in your pond.? An infestation of azolla turns the pond red. ?It will grow right across the top and completely close off the surface,? he said. ?It is a fern that multiplies very quickly and within a few days. In a week the pond can be completely covered.? Often the invasion come from downstream or is carried by waterfowl. ?It gets stuck to them and as they go from one water source to another, it spreads,? he said. There are two ways to treat severe infestation ? mechanical and chemical. ?As everyone is supposed to in California, we basically try to use as little as we can in chemicals,??he said. ?If there is another way to treat the problem, we do that. Our last line of defense is chemicals.? Aeration and keeping the water moving are very important to a pond?s health. ?Many are not connected to a creek, so they have irrigation water,? Andrews said. ?We bring it from (ditchwater) or a pipe source. ? In some cases ponds do not have any incoming or outgoing (water source). Evaporation is substantial. Even a small pond loses thousands of gallons of water a day to evaporation. So you have to have a way to replenish it.? For pond clearing, Andrews brings out the drag line to scrape the sediment, and says he doesn?t know of anyone else in Placer County that still uses that method. ?It is kind of old school, but has a distinct advantage,? he said. ?To be able to remove the sediment and work underwater without hydraulics, that?s key because today?s modern equipment is all hydraulics. If you have a hose fail (with hydraulics), you have turned it into an environmental disaster because you?ve just dumped gallons of oil into the water source. With (our drag line), that risk does not exist.? One of his recent projects was restoring a two-acre pond for Loomis resident Doug English. ?It was fully infested with milfoil and cattails and the water was stagnant,? Andrews said. ?The aquatics eco-system had fallen off. ... It was so green. If you didn?t look close, you wouldn?t have known it was a pond.? Andrews? crew dredged it, treated it and added an aeration system. ?He restocked it and goes out after work and goes fishing,? he said. English describes Andrews as ?pretty much a genius.? ?It isn?t just ponds he knows. He?s also a specialist at everything outdoors ? irrigation, landscaping, wildlife,? English said. ? ? We had a beaver issue on our pond and he told us how to take care of that. He built bridges and understands aerators (which draw in and recirculate the water). It?s good for the fish and for the health of the pond. You don?t raise fish; you raise the water in the pond. And he understands that.? English?s now pristine pond is stocked with bass, blue gill and catfish. But it was an eyesore when he first saw it. ?The pond was terrible and most buyers would walk away after seeing it,? he said. ?I didn?t really know what I was getting into, but I knew it could be cleaned. After research, I knew (Andrews) was the person to do it the right way. ? There?s a step-by-step process to make sure the pond stays healthy and you don?t kill the fish. ?My wife probably had other ideas, but the most important thing to me was the pond. Everything else was second. That was the first thing we worked on and everything else was second. Since then, we?ve put in an acre of zinfandel grapes. He helped us on that as well. He?s a genius with anything outdoors. He?s been right about everything he told me would happen. Everything I?ve run past him he?s always been correct on.? ----------- DLD service Where: 4500 Pacific St., Rocklin Phone: (916) 768-7017 On the web: www.beautifulponds. biz