Skip to Main Content

What is the Difference Between a Lake and a Pond?
Pond
Pond
Water Garden
Water Garden

What is the Difference Between a Lake and a Pond?

A: What is the difference between a pond and a lake? It’s a common question, especially for those looking to install a backyard water feature. The answer isn’t exactly black and white– many times, the words are even used interchangeably.

What is the Difference Between a Lake and a Pond?

Some have made the argument that lakes are deep and ponds are shallow. In theory, lakes are deep enough that there are regions where sunlight does not penetrate and plants can’t grow. In a pond, however, sunlight can reach even the deepest points.

Across the country, however, there is little rhyme or reason for how lakes and ponds are named. In most places, a body of water doesn’t need to be a certain size to be designated a lake. Lakes are generally larger, but there are also examples of ponds that are big and lakes that are small. There is no universal method to distinguish between the two.

At the end of the day, though, the size of the water feature matters much more than what you call it.

What is the Difference Between a Pond and a Water Garden?

Distinguishing between a pond and a water garden is a bit easier, but there is still some overlap in terms.

Water gardens and koi ponds are typically manmade. Due to their smaller size, water gardens are measured in gallons. We use larger units of measurement for ponds and lakes, such as square feet.

This is another instance where size is more important than the term. Using products intended for large bodies of water in a small koi pond could spell disaster for your plants and fish. And, on the flip side, an effective dosage for a water garden would be a drop in the bucket for a lake.

For example, the Airmax ClearPAC Plus Pond Care Program is designed for bodies of water that are over ¼ acre in size. The Pond Guy DefensePAC, on the other hand, is intended for water features that are 1,000 to 2,000 gallons, which is well under ¼ acre. Both products state they are for ponds– just different-sized ones.

Another example is aerators. Aeration is important in any water feature– the increased airflow reduces mosquitoes and algae build-up while increasing oxygen in the water. An aeration system for a large body of water has much more water to aerate. It needs to be more powerful than an aeration system for a smaller body of water.

How to Measure a Pond, Lake, or Water Garden

If you built your water feature, you may already know its size. If not, The Pond Guy has a pond calculator tool that makes measuring your water feature simple and seamless.

For a pond or lake, you select the shape and input the radius (for circular ponds) or width and length, and maximum depth. These numbers will then tell you how many square feet, surface acres, and acre-feet your pond is.

For water gardens and koi ponds, you can calculate the volume and the ideal number of koi or goldfish. There is also an optimum pump calculator for those looking to build a waterfall.

It can be difficult to figure out which category of water feature you have. Most often, larger bodies of water fall under the pond and lake umbrella, while smaller ones are water gardens. Knowing the size of your water feature can make finding the right products that much easier.

If you are having a hard time figuring out which type of water feature you have, the experts at The Pond Guy are available to help.

Read More Articles

Water Gardens 101
Pond and Lake 101