Updated: Aug 18
Author: Emily Courtney
Water is one of those land features that draw in people. Throughout history, initial settlements in a new area were most commonly established along rivers. Pioneers built their cabins near lakes or streams. Besides the obvious reason of the need for the life-giving resource, there seems to be an inherent fascination with water sources that captivates people. Even now in this modern age when it isn’t necessary to live on a water source to have access to water, it is still one of the most sought after and highly valued features in real estate. The main draw has shifted from necessity to the desire for the recreational opportunities water provides. Water features can be enjoyed year round, but especially this time of year. When summer hits, people want to be on the water. Weekend crowds flock to lakes, reservoirs, and rivers for boating, fishing, swimming and a myriad of other activities. With summer in full swing, we want to share some ideas about how to enhance an existing water feature, or what to consider if you aspire to add one to your property.
If you don’t already have a pond or lake on your place, adding one can be one of the most rewarding enhancements you can make. You will first need to determine what the purpose is or what you want out of it. What vision do you have for how you will use it? Which activities do you enjoy the most? If you want a fishing pond, consider whether you want an easy-catch pond for kids to enjoy, or a trophy bass lake where you have to work for a catch. Whether you want to stock with catfish or bass and bream, there are different approaches, but similar factors to consider. These include:
Budget – Even a low budget can incorporate a low maintenance catfish pond.
Size of watershed – This will determine how much water can be captured.
Size and depth
Shape – round, square, kidney shaped, long and narrow
In addition to fishing opportunities, water features enhance wildlife habitat. Besides being a water source, ponds or lakes can provide nesting habitat for waterfowl, enhance species diversity by drawing water dependent amphibians and reptiles, and improve overall habitat structure by creating openings and funnels. See our post “Targeting Water Sources” from last September that explains more in depth how water sources affect wildlife management and hunting strategy.
If you already have a pond or lake on your place, here are some enhancements to consider that will increase your family’s enjoyment of the feature:
Plant trees for aesthetics and wildlife benefits.
Build a fishing pier. This can provide a clean area for fishers to stand, a platform for a fish feeder, or simply add a certain aesthetic appeal.
Add a picnic table and benches for cookouts, fish cleaning, or just extra seating.
Add a fire pit for socializing.
A pond or lake is such a beneficial feature because it provides such a variety of activities that can be enjoyed year round. For some hunters, having a water source to play and fish in is the only thing that holds them over during the offseason. For some families, summers at the lake house hold their most precious memories. Whether you grew up with these kinds of memories and want to recapture those experiences, or just want to provide them for your family now, there are countless ways to do so. Consider adding or enhancing a water feature and watch it transform your property.