A Quick Guide To Pond Maintenance

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, everywhere

By brewbooks from near Seattle, USA (Reflection Seike Japanese Garden) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By brewbooks from near Seattle, USA (Reflection Seike Japanese Garden)

When 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 coming

By Serena from Europe (No swimming today  Uploaded by Caspian blue) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Serena from Europe (No swimming today Uploaded by Caspian blue)

It 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 it

By Paul Smith/user:Romfordian (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Smith/user:Romfordian (Own work)

Removing 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!

Blanket ban

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.

This guest post was written by Ricky Peterson. Ricky works at SwallowAquatics.co.uk and when he’s not at work he loves to spend time in the garden or out and about.

Comments

  1. Tina Goodall Evetts says:

    Thank you Ricky, I’ve just read this and watched the video and I’ll be buying Barley straw to put in the pond for when we’re away this year. When we came back from a 6 month trip last year our neighbor had fed the fish but not removed the algae and it had covered the pond and was really thick. I was concerned that the fish wouldn’t have survived but even the babies they’d had were swimming contentedly around.

  2. I have a small pond that I just put in this year. I keep it clear with a homemade filter. I do scoop out the leaves but need to get the ones off the bottom of the pond. To help with algae I have water plants and ramshorn snails.
    Rebecca Whitford recently posted…The $59 GreenhouseMy Profile

  3. Great info! Can’t wait for spring, so i can “unwrap” my backyard pond again!
    Greg recently posted…Do Pond Pumps Need To Operate All The Time?My Profile

  4. There’s so much joy in having a pond – it’s amazing to see the wildlife that thrives in it and to teach the kids about garden animals

  5. Hi, really enjoyed your post, worth mentioning not to feed your fish once water temp drops below 50F i have had a few customers in the shop this year very concerned that their fish had stopped feeding and were sat on the bottom. Roll on Summer !

  6. It seems like the earlier you can get on pond maintenance, the better. I didn’t realize that a frozen pond could kill the wildlife under the surface. Our pond has never frozen over, but it has been known to happy in abnormally cold years, so we should probably be prepared!

  7. I think having a pond is such a great experience. I must admit that having a pond in the northern states is a little more work but it is well worth it.

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