Can You Turn a Swamp into a Pond?

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Everybody knows that ponds are much easier on the eyes (and the nose) than a swamp. Here is where you find out everything you need to know about turning a pond into a swamp!

You can turn your swamp into a pond after you have obtained permission from the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and have your permits in order. You will also need to check with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) if fish or wildlife will be involved in your transformation.

Once that gets taken care of, physical labor will take care of the rest! Turning a swamp into a pond is a huge undertaking! Be sure to consider all the aspects and requirements before getting started, and we’ll help you get familiar with what it takes to get the job done.

Is It Legal?

Before doing anything else, you will want to check with the DNR and be sure that you are legally allowed to change the landscape and utilize whatever water is on your property (laws differ from state to state so make sure you are abiding by your state’s laws and contacting the right people).

For example, the DNR in Idaho can be reached through a phone call or an email, though a phone call is probably your best chance at getting in touch with someone.

Permits, rules, and regulations will most likely be necessary if the plans for your pond are going to alter already existing wetlands or waterways. You will need to check with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) if any of your plans will impact fish passage or any other wildlife.

As mentioned before, the laws of each state are different and will have different requirements. There is also a chance that you might qualify for federal money in the event that they might want ponds on your land, so be sure to check that out if your budget is a little short!

The process of getting the right permits and documents might seem daunting at first but don’t let yourself get overwhelmed! As long as you are willing to put the work into it, you will be ready to dig that pond in no time. Altering wetlands has the potential to impact your local wildlife, which is why it’s so important to do things legally, as there is potential to get hit with hefty fines if you don’t do things right.

Pros and Cons

Knowing the pros and cons of your project is the best way to decide if this endevor is one you want to pursue. We all know that ponds are beautiful, and a great addition to most landscapes, but what are some of the downsides?


A pond is a great idea if you have a fairly wet yard. Make sure you determine the cause and source of the water before proceeding with anything, but it would be a good way to drain your land, especially if you can fill a pond with water year-round. Make sure you put the pond in the lowest part of your yard so as to avoid flooding, or rain damage.

Ponds also attract wildlife. Ducks, geese, and other water birds are commonly found near ponds. Depending on the size, your pond can be set up to be self-sustaining, which can lower the cost and time spent on maintenance. The birds attracted by the pond can also help take care of the bugs that typically infest marshy areas, which can make it the perfect solution to an insect problem.


While beautiful, ponds do come with their own potential problems. The biggest problem would probably be the bugs. A pond that is beautifully filled can keep the air fresh. If it evaporates down to a muddy few inches, or stays stagnant for too long, it can quickly become a breeding ground for mosquitos and other pests.

If you use herbicides and/or pesticides in your yard, any drainage that runs down to the pond would poison the water. This would be problematic, especially if you are breeding fish or have wildlife in and around your pond. While ponds will naturally do best in the lowest parts of your yard, make sure you’re being mindful of what’s draining into it with the water.

Getting Started

Once you’ve been cleared by the proper authorities and have any permits you may need, you will want to start by draining the swamp. This can be done by digging trenches and drainage canals for the water to flow out. You can dry a swamp out more quickly by filling it with soil, but this is probably not the route you want to take if you are trying to convert to a pond.

The video below gives a good, up front look at how the swamp draining process works.

Make sure you’ve got sufficient drainage routes to the pond. It is best if the pond is positioned at a low point. It is preferable to dig a pond on a slope so as to ensure safety from any flooding you might encounter.

Keeping It Clean

Once you’ve spent a lot of time working to create your pond, you’re going to need to take measures to ensure that it doesn’t revert back into a swamp. Keeping a natural pond clean is a bit harder than your average garden pond, but there are still ways to do it safely.

Using herbicides and algaecides will clear the pond of any unwanted vegetation, but it can also poison the water and then poison any fish or wildlife that drink from the pond. If used too often, the herbicides can make the water worse off than it was before. All natural remedies should be considered alternatively.

You will want to look for a liquid product that has all natural bacteria and enzymes. This will help spread the good bacteria faster in a large body of water (a powder/solid form of product is better used in smaller bodies of water, as opposed to a liquid).

Aerating your water means adding additional oxygen to the water which will keep unwanted vegetation, odors, and algae at bay. For larger ponds, you may want to install a windmill aeration system. This is a good method if you have no access to electricity and/or you want to employ a more ecofriendly way to aerate the water. Keep in mind that an aeration system of any kind will require a fair share of maintenance.

Your pond will also most likely require a bit of manual maintenance as well. Sometimes the smallest problems can be solved by skimming/raking the surface of the water to remove debris, unwanted algae, and leaves that will pollute the water.

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We always wanted a fountain of some kind at our house, but professional installation was just too pricey. So, we decided to make our own little fountain and after learning how, we thought we should share our experiences to help people in our same situation.

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