Seasonal Pond Care
Like all of the most successful gardening techniques, ponds are most successful when they copy nature’s construction and systems. If you want your pond to be a healthy and eye-catch feature in your garden, you will want to keep the structure and systems running cleanly. This means you need to do seasonal pond care. Here are the basics to keep in mind.
Spring pond care needs to be done as your pond is coming out of dormancy. Clean it up, re-pot plants and check fish for any sign of disease. Test pipes, filters and look for leaks. If any replacement parts or repairs are needed, take care of them before the season gets rolling. Spring cleaning means to clear out string algae, and if it bothers you, treating for green water. Start feeding fish winter food for easy digestion when water temperatures rise over 50’F. You can switch to regular food once temperatures creep over 60’F and fish are fully active.
Summer pond care is best handled by regular inspections of the water, filters, fish and plants. While fully active, the pond is a self-contained system that interacts with all its parts. Regularly keep filters cleaned, surfaces free of unwanted growth, dead leaves and flowers removed so they don’t rot in the pond, and fish regularly examined to keep disease from getting a foothold. Whether you have koi, goldfish, game fish or any other swimmers in your water garden, don’t over-feed them. Nature provides plenty of fish food naturally so any food you feed them is an extra treat. Uneaten food can pollute the water so, again, don’t overfeed. If you have seasonal problems with predators fishing in your pond, consider using deterring statues, sensor sprays, pond netting or even low-shock fencing (preferably on a timer to avoid unpleasant contact with people or pets).
Autumn season pond care is all about winding down and preparing for winter. Keep up with regular inspections and the maintenance you did in the summer. But start preparations for winter dormancy. As water temperature cools, drop water lilies to the bottom of the pond where they will stay a little warmer. Return to feeding fish winter food until water falls below 50’F then withhold feeding altogether. Remove tender water plants to a warmer place if you live where temperatures will freeze. Turn off pumps and other systems before the first hard freeze and drain pipes so they won’t break from expanding ice. Prepare fountains and other water features for cold weather, too.
Winter pond care: In warm winter areas you can run your pond all winter or you can let it rest. In cold winter areas your pond will go dormant. Having prepared your pond in the autumn for freezes, there will be little work to do. One thing you want to keep in mind, however, is that you do not want to let your pond freeze completely on the surface if you are over-wintering fish. You need to leave some open water so the pond can ‘breathe’: fish, even when sluggish and semi-dormant still need fresh oxygen in the water. If the surface freezes over, do not hit the ice to break it open. The impact can cause shock waves in the water that can injure or kill fish below. Instead, melt a hole with a pan of boiling water set on top of the ice layer. There are mobile floaters you buy to keep open areas on the surface of the pond. Just set them on the water surface before a freeze takes place and they will move around keeping ice from forming. In very cold areas you will need to remove the fish altogether if your pond could freeze solid.
Ponds are not low-maintenance features in the garden. But they can be the most fascinating and beautiful events in your landscape. Make sure you give your pond regular care and it will be the highlight of your garden. Watching fish can be as healing as hours of hypnotherapy while the sound of water can be cooling in the heat of summer. Enjoy your water feature and keep the job of maintenance as low as possible by regular pond care year round.
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