You may recall that I wrote a post for Sow and So back in November about how to dig and build yourself a garden pond. If not, you can read the post here… Well anyway, since summer is approaching (I hope!) I thought it would be a good time to talk a little about maintenance.
Even the most carefully planned, self-sufficient ponds require a little maintenance – unless you’re going for the bog garden look, of course. Here are a few pointers to keep your aquatic haven from turning into a watery hell.
Water, water, everywhereWhen the weather is warm, water levels may sink due to evaporation. However, if it keeps happening at a faster rate than you might expect, it’s worth checking out. The pond’s edges might not be completely level, meaning that the water is overflowing, or there may be a leak due to a hole in the lining. This article offers some other possible explanations, as well as advice on maintaining water quality.
Winter is comingIt might be months away, but it’s worth preparing for the colder months in advance. If you’re likely to be away from home for any stretch of time while it’s due to freeze over, you may want to invest in a heated de-icer, which will prevent the pond from freezing over and starving the wildlife inside of oxygen. Keeping your pump running can also help with this – reduce the rate of water to about 50%, though, if possible.
However, if you’ll be at home, you can achieve the same results with a pan of hot water. Simply place the pan on top for a few minutes to melt a hole, which will be plenty big enough for fish and plants to get the oxygen they need.
If your fish seem a little still, don’t panic – they hibernate during the winter months. Also, plants will stop growing until springtime, so don’t panic if it looks like your pond is dying; it isn’t.
Don’t leaf itRemoving fallen leaves from the surface is especially important during autumn and winter. If you’re yet to dig your pond, a great tip is to avoid placing it underneath a tree, as this could save you countless mornings spent fishing for debris. Probably the most effective method is to use a net. Be careful not to discard any of your fish by mistake, though!
Removing blanket weed might not be the most fun job, but it’s certainly an essential one. Not only is the algae unsightly, but it’s also extremely damaging for plants and wildlife as it starves your pond of oxygen. Basically, the best method involves grabbing a rake and getting stuck in!
This helpful video talks you through the process, and also explains how to prevent blanket weed from returning.
The key is to be vigilant, look out for any unwanted weeds and act fast before they become established. And of course, when disposing of the plants, do so in a way that reduces the chances of it re-entering your pond, or even the local environment.
In some areas you can get in trouble (or even fined) for unwittingly introducing invasive plants into the local ecosystem, so depending on the plant type it may be necessary to dispose of the plant waste by burning it. The golden rule is to research the specific type of plant and “know your enemy”.
Pro pond tip:
Set up a calendar of jobs to do throughout the year so that you don’t forget anything.