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Build A Pond | Summer 2005 Out Here Magazine

The Holland family — Kyle, Cole, Brittney, and Courtney — have the fun of a pond practically at their front door.

It's a 'hole' lot of fun

By Renee Elder

Photography by Donnie Beauchamp

Between working and spending time with his wife and young children, Kyle Holland doesn't often get away to go fishing.

But rather than abandon this favorite pastime, Holland, of Dickson, TN, decided to make it easier by adding a well-stocked pond to his own front yard.

"It's our own little getaway," says Holland, 30, a manager in the advertising department at Tractor Supply's Brentwood, TN, Store Support Center.

Equipped with a dock, a canoe, and some remote-control model boats, the whole family enjoys playing together on the 1-acre pond he built last year at their home just outside of Nashville.

"Then, if I've only got 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon to go fishing, I can get my pole and just do it," Holland says.

While the size of Holland's pond is a bit larger than most, his desire to install a water feature near his home is part of a growing trend, says Tim Matson, author of several books and videos on pond building.

"People want ponds for a variety of reasons: raising fish, irrigating a garden, ice skating, swimming, attracting wildlife, or just enhancing the aesthetics of their property — making it look good," he says.

Matson, who became fascinated with the idea after digging a pond on his own 45-acre tract of land in Vermont, advises landowners to study the task before jumping into it.

"You have got to stay involved in the process all along, or else you may wind up with something that's a real can of worms and not to your satisfaction," he says.

Rather than hiring a backhoe and digging in, it's better to find a contractor who has significant experience with ponds, Matson says.

"He can do the test pits to help you ascertain whether the soil at the site is good, whether the water table seems promising, and whether you are hitting anything that could obstruct construction," he says.

Soils with heavy clay content are best for holding water, although liners are available to keep a pond from leaking. Freeboard — the vertical distance between the water surface and the top of the bank — helps protect against flooding, but in Matson's opinion creates an "unattractive-looking pond, like a crater." Grass or other natural materials, such as rock, look better and work almost as well, he says.

Controlling algae is imperative if you want to enjoy your pond, Matson says.

"For water-quality reasons, I like a natural, biological control over algae, so crayfish work for me," Matson says.

If stocking fish, pond owners need to make sure they create enough water depth to keep the fish from freezing in the winter or getting overheated in the summer, he adds.

While Holland looks forward to some relaxing days this summer, sitting on his dock baiting hooks for catfish and bass, the pond has given him and his wife, Courtney, even more ideas.

"We plan to put in a gazebo and a new deck to hook on to the dock," Holland says. "It's amazing what a hole of water can do."

Renee Elder is a freelance writer in Raleigh, NC.


For More Info

For more information about pond building, visit Matson’s website,, or check out some of his books, including Earth Ponds A to Z: An Illustrated Encyclopedia.