Have you ever dreamed of building a pond in your garden? If so, I am sure you already have a clear picture of it in your mind: a garden pond filled with beautiful plants. Water hyacinths float peacefully as the bright-colored koi dart in and out of the rocks. It is a picture of nature at its best — amazing, enchanting, and relaxing to anyone who gazes upon it.
Now, imagine the opposite scenario: a pond filled with algae, weeds, and overgrown plants. The water is dirty, unclear, and unfit for marine life. Not a very pretty picture, isn’t it? Without proper cleaning and maintenance, this is what your pond will look like. And so, if building a pond is one of your dreams, then cleaning your pond should also be a priority.
Caring for Your Pond in the Summer
Aside from giving your pond a thorough cleaning every five or 10 years, you need to do some cleaning during the different seasons as well. Here are some tips for caring for your pond during summertime:
- Add water from time to time. This is because water evaporates more quickly during the hot summer months. When the water level goes down, there will be less oxygen for the fish.
- If possible, use rainwater instead of tap water. Tap water is generally rich in nutrients, making it possible for algae to multiply faster. However, if you do not have rainwater, add tap water slowly and in small amounts each time. This will prevent the cool tap water from shocking your pond fish.
- During the hot summer nights, spray some water over the surface of the pond. This can help improve the level of oxygen in the pond. Likewise, you can install a device that can keep the water bubbling continuously.
- Watch out for floating weeds during the summer, as these can multiply quickly and cover the pond surface. You can scoop these weeds out using a net or a stick.
- In the summer, you may need to trim or remove some plants to keep them from covering the surface of the pond. In this case, make sure that around half of surface is always free from any vegetation.
Pond Care in the Spring and Autumn Seasons
- The ideal time to purchase new pond plants is during the middle of spring. At this time, the water is slowly warming up and the plants are growing faster. Spring is also the best time for separating and re-potting deep water plants like water lilies.
- Watch out for an increased amount of algae or weeds in late spring, as they tend to multiply quickly during this period.
- In early autumn, remember to remove dead leaves and branches. This way, you can help prevent the build up of decomposing plants.
- Do not forget to thin out submersible or oxygenating plants. Keep in mind that four or five bunches of these plants should be enough for every square meter of the surface of the pond.
Caring for your Pond during Winter
- The main problem during the winter is the possibility of your pond freezing over with some fish in it. In order to melt the ice, you can put a hot pan on the pond surface. You can also install a pond heater or device to prevent the water from freezing. Another option is to float a ball on the surface of the pond. The ball can actually help delay the freezing process. In any case, do not smash the ice, as the force can shock and even harm the fish underneath.
- During the winter, make sure that the pond still receives enough sunlight. Your pond plants need sunlight to photosynthesize even in winter. You can make sure of this by removing overhanging tree branches and by removing snow in case your pond is covered with ice.
A Thorough Cleaning every 5 – 10 Years
If you have a small-sized pond, you should give it a thorough cleaning at least once every five years. On the other hand, if your pond is large, you need to clean it thoroughly at least once every 10 years. In both cases, the best time for pond-cleaning is during late autumn, as this is the season when most animals are not so active.
Cleaning Your Pond
Before you begin cleaning your pond, you need to prepare a holding tank for your deep water plants and fish. Be sure to add some pond water to the tank, so that the fish and plants can adjust to the tank easily as you clean the pond. As for the marginal plants, they can survive outside the pond if you put them in a moist and shady spot.
The next step is draining the pond with a pump. If you don’t have one, you can rent a pump from the nearest machinery shop. As you remove the water, you may discover some fish that you weren’t able to take out earlier. Remove them carefully and place them in the holding tank. Likewise, remove the remaining plants and put them in the holding tank as well. While you are at it, you can take this opportunity to separate some plants or re-pot them if needed.
Once you reach the bottom of the pond, scoop up the silt, which you can put on the border of the pond. However, be sure to keep some silt. You can put this back in the pond later because it will help the organisms adjust to the new environment.
With a brush and some water, scrub your pond liner while throwing the dirty water out using a bucket. After cleaning the liner, put the remaining silt back. Then, gradually refill the pond with water, placing the plants back as the water rises. If it is possible, refill your pond with rainwater.
When the pond is filled with water, return the fish carefully. It will take a few months or even a few years before the ecosystem of the pond becomes balanced once again.
Each season brings different conditions and challenges to every pond owner. So as you can see, cleaning your pond should be done not only once or twice, but throughout all the year. If you are truly determined to keep your pond alive and healthy, then occasional proper cleaning your pond and regular maintenance is a must.