If you’ve got a koi pond, then you’ve got predators! Here in New Jersey, they can include herons, egrets, raccoons, opossums, and to a lesser extent skunks and cats.
Koi are a living investment, but for many pond owners they also become part of the family as pets, as do frogs, turtles and other pond critters. The last thing you want is for your pond to become an all-night diner for local wildlife.
Fortunately, you can take measures to deter predators so they’ll think twice before visiting your pond for a snack. Here are some of the ways you can keep predators away from your pond without harming them or the environment, while keeping the balance of your pond ecosystem intact.
Some predators, like the infamous blue heron, will walk right up to the edge of your pond and turn it into a dinner plate. One of the ways you can discourage this behavior is by installing deterrents that make it difficult to find footing there.
Some people like to stake bamboo into the ground every few feet and string fishing line between the stakes to create a barrier. The clear line will fool predators without obstructing your view. But be careful not to let the fishing line get into your pond or fish can become entangled and perish anyway.
If netting doesn’t bother you, you can cover the entire pond but this is not a particularly aesthetic choice.
Our preference is to add decorative bamboo edging, because it blends into the natural ecosystem of your pond and looks great, but makes it difficult for a heron to find footing or maintain its balance. Bamboo also works for raccoons and other hungry evening hunters.
Other landscaping tricks can add to the beauty of your pond while deterring predators at the same time. Border plants and tall grasses can make it difficult for some animals to get near enough to the edge of the pond and they won’t provide the easy-in-easy-out access of an open edge.
Few things will deter predators as well as other predators. There are a number of products on the market that make a charming addition to your décor while fooling animals into thinking their seat at the dinner table is already taken.
Floating alligators, owls and even mock-herons can scare off other animals, especially if they’re accompanied by sound effects for an added touch of realism.
But predators are smart, and they may soon realize that your decoys are just that – especially if your hooting owl has been perched on the same rock for two months. So if you use decoys, it’s wise to move them periodically so it appears that there are real animals moving around the area.
We’re not talking Wizard-of-Oz-style scarecrows with straw hats and beady eyes, but a motion-activated mechanical system that shoots a sudden and startling burst of water at an approaching predator.
These are unobtrusive and can be placed anywhere in your yard, even in multiple spots, where predators are likely to hang out eyeing your pond. Since all they do is squirt water, they are completely environmentally friendly and safe for use with kids and pets.
Keep in mind that these are motion activated – so they’re just as likely to hit a human target as a hungry heron! But they aren’t harmful and may even be fun for the kids. Much like decoys, you may want to move these from time to time so predators can’t outsmart them.
Half the battle with predators is simply keeping them off balance so they’re uncomfortable hanging out waiting for a meal. Just as a spurt of water can startle them off, so can sound.
Wind chimes or cans are an option, or better yet, if you’ve got outdoor speakers, try turning on talk radio or playing your favorite podcast. Human voices will let predators know that there’s a bigger boss in town and they’ll be more likely to steer clear.
Which Deterrent Is Best?
The tricky part about dealing with predators is that they don’t all respond to the same deterrents, nor do deterrents that worked for a while continue to work forever.
You may be best served by trying different types of deterrents at different times, and even in conjunction with each other. For example, pose a heron decoy near a pond edged with bamboo and install a couple of scarecrows in strategic locations. Or try a floating alligator decoy for a time, then switch to an owl.
Remember to move any decoys or mechanical devices from time to time to keep predators guessing. Switch out your methods at different times of the year. Scarecrows may not be best suited for winter use since water can freeze in the hose, but bamboo edging can stay in place year-round.
And be sure that you provide hiding spaces for your fish and critters among the rocks and plants so they can participate in their own defense.
Keeping wildlife from munching on your koi can take a bit of experimentation and ongoing effort, but it will be effort well spent since you know you’ll be protecting the gems of your pond.
If you want to enjoy your pond without the stress of worrying whether your prize koi will become dinner, get in touch with us and let’s talk about options. We can help with landscaping and design, or guide you to the best products in our showroom to help keep pesky predators at bay.