Clean Up Golf course Ponds Naturally

Aside from the challenge a particular course offers, the aesthetics of the golf course plays a major role in whether a golfer plays it. One such aesthetic feature is the golf course ponds and water hazards. It is no secret that clean, clear, odor free ponds are what people like and is what golf course operators strive to maintain, but this is easier said than done.

Algae is the chief problem in golf course ponds and there are 3 basic types that golf course superintendents should be aware of.

Planktonic algae are microscopic, free-floating algae that give ponds their clear green color. A normal population of planktonic algae is mandatory for a healthy pond, as they are the base of the food chain and are responsible for supplying the pond with dissolved oxygen, essential for the health of the other aquatic life. When planktonic algae start to bloom, they will give ponds a pea soup coloration. This usually takes place in summer months.

Filamentous algae, often called pond scum or pond moss, begins growing on the bottom of ponds on surfaces like rocks and logs and resemble green fur. As the clumps grow, they break loose from the bottom and float to the top, causing ugly green mats on the pond surface. Filamentous algae begin growing in the early spring and are first noticed around the edges of the pond in shallow water. It has no redeemable value to a pond.

Attached-erect algae commonly are mistaken for a higher vascular plant due to its dense, gritty appearance and its resemblance to aquatic plants with leaf-like structures. Attached-erect algae are less common, but do to its thickness, blooms can be dangerous to swimmers along with being a nuisance to other water activities. Attached-erect algae provide no significant value to a pond system.

Algae blooms in ponds are stimulated by the availability of excess nutrients in the pond and sunlight penetration. Excess nutrients usually come from fish feces, grass clippings, fish food and fertilization run-off from fairways and greens. Shallow, clear ponds are often the most likely environments for algae to occur, due to the ability of sunlight to penetrate through to the bottom soil. These nutrient sources are also the culprit behind the noxious odors that sometimes come from golf course ponds.

Traditionally, golf courses have taken a chemical approach to pond maintenance programs to treat problems. While initially effective, chemicals are a short-lived solution and can have side effects that create larger problems. Much discussion has centered on golf course usage of chemicals and problems associated with the chemicals entering nearby creeks, streams and even the water table and effecting the local water ecosystem. Additionally improper usage of chemicals can result in fish kills and oxygen depletion from decaying algae and plant life.

An effective, long term method to pond maintenance in golf course ponds is the use of beneficial bacteria to create clean, clear and healthy ponds. The microbes, once introduced into the pond, consume organic waste and help to reduce bottom sludge, which, more times that not, are the culprit behind problematic ponds. Additionally, the installation of an aeration system can aid in reducing stratification and infusing oxygen into the bottom of the pond to accelerate microbial activity. Aeration is also helpful in deterring the growth of pond algae. Algae tend to gravitate to low oxygen environments and a properly sized aerator will add gobs of available dissolved oxygen that algae does not like.

The fight to maintain golf course ponds is a formidable challenge, but with knowledge and the help from beneficial bacteria inoculants, clean, clear healthy ponds and waterways can be achieved in an environmentally friendly way.