Love backyard entertaining, spending lazy days and evenings by your pond? A backyard pond with flowing water, floating plants and darting fish can be breathtaking. Keeping it attractive and trouble free takes some work, but with a little extra care, it will be you a lot of pleasure. Below are some suggested care and maintenance tips that every pond owner should be doing.
Provide a Balance of Shade and Sun
Plants, trees and tree roots can provide the needed shelter for pond animals, however, if you have too much shade, it will reduce the plant growth.
Don’t be Too Tidy
It isn’t necessary to be to be a clean freak when it comes to your garden pond. You will need a mixture of mud, leaves, twigs, stones and lots of plants to provide plenty of places for wildlife to live in and spend the winter months. Typically in the spring, you shouldn’t need to do a full pond cleaning (see below regarding spring care).
Add an Interesting Mix of Plants
Plants are an important element for your pond, therefore you should aim for a mixture of submerged underwater plants, plants with floating leaves and emergent plants that grow out of the water. But, beware of invasive plants, some non-native aquatic plants can prevent others from becoming established, therefore a good selection of native aquatics is preferable. Given time, your pond will colonize naturally.
Use Caution with Fertilizers and Chemicals
Be careful about using lawn fertilizers and other chemicals near the pond. When it rains or the lawn is watered, they can run off and contaminate your pond and potentially kill your fish or other living elements. You can protect your pond from runoff by forming a slight ridge around it approximately 3 inches high. If the pond is on an incline, you can create a shallow channel with a slight slope to divert runoff.
Avoid Tap Water
Your tap water can contain high levels of nutrients such as nitrates and using it to fill or top off your pond will encourage algae and turn it a murky green. Instead use rain water. The water levels in your pond will fluctuate; there is no need to be concerned, particularly in the summer. Harvest rainwater in a water butt, buckets or containers for topping off the pond.
Fish or Other Pond Wildlife
Generally speaking, fish will not mix well with other wildlife. If you want a wildlife pond, which includes frogs and newts, avoid fish. Don’t transfer fish, plants and frog spawn between ponds, because this can introduce disease and problem plants.
We suggest buying 2 pumps, in case one of them malfunctions, you can immediately use the second one.
Pond Viewing Pleasure
In the spring time, the water will begin to warm up bringing the pond back to life. So, this is the optimal time to get the pond moving in the right direction to reap the benefits of a beautiful pond.
Un-winterize the pond. Anything you may have done to prepare for winter can be undone once freezing weather has passed. For example, if you turned your pump off, time to turn it back on.
Begin feeding your fish again once the water temperature reaches a constant 50 degrees. When the water temperature reaches 60 degrees, feed a cold-weather food until you begin the full-season feeding program.
Remove the accumulated leaves, twigs and other debris with a skimmer net. There are very good products out there that will help accelerate the natural decomposition of the debris.
Be aware: Typically, a complete cleaning will upset the balance of the pond and can actually interfere with the algae control. If however, you do decide to do a complete cleaning, then use the following method:
Pump water from the pond into a large tub or other type of container, it should be as large as possible to accommodate the number and size of fish that you have. It may be necessary to cover the container with leaf netting or something similar to keep the fish from jumping out, this is especially true if you have koi. If it’s hot outside, the container should be kept in the shade. Continue pumping the water out of the pond until it just covers the fish. Use a fish net to catch the fish and place them in the container with the water just pumped from the pond.
If the plants need repotting, they can be removed, otherwise leave them in the pond. If they are removed they should be kept in the shade and covered with damp newspaper. For underwater plants place them in a container of water.
After you pump as much water out of the pond with your pump as you can, you will want to use a shop-vac to finish up or you can use a large dust pan and broom with a bucket to finish removing the sludge. Do not try to scrub the velvet type algae that may coat the liner as this is beneficial. Do not use any chemicals.
After the pond is clean you can pump the water with the fish into the pond and then put the fish back into the pond. Add a dechlorinator to remove the chlorine and slowly add water from the hose to finish filling the pond. The plants can be placed back into the pond during the filling process. Clean out the filters.
Remove dead foliage from the pond and as the leaves of plants yellow and brown cut them off to avoid debris buildup in the pond. It also allows for more room for new growth, and improves the appearance. Continue fertilizing your plants and using bacterial products.
Feed your fish well, without over feeding. Feed them no more than they can eat in 5 minutes, once to 3 times a day.
Continue cleaning filter as needed, but don’t over-clean. Maximize your aeration. Warm water holds less oxygen, however fish use more oxygen in warm water. Therefore you have to make sure you have plenty of aeration running 24/7. Aeration can be supplemented by using an air pump or an additional pump.
Check back with us for a future Western Lehigh Landscape Blogs on winter pond care tips.
Western Lehigh Landscape can bring nature to your backyard with a beautiful, relaxing pond or water feature. Now is the perfect time to get stared.
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