Pond liners are used to make sure the water stays in the ponds. If you see the water line is receding, then you have to start thinking about changing the pond liner.
Usually, the best time to replace a pond liner is late autumn and early winter. It is easier to change them during these seasons as the fish and other animals are less active then. Although if necessary, you can change the liners any time of the year.
Let’s discuss down below why the above-mentioned seasons are the best seasons to replace a pond liner and how you should do it.
Factors deciding when to replace your pond liner?
Two factors need to be considered while changing a pond liner. First, you need to consider the season and second, you need to consider the state your liner is in.
You should change your pond liners in late autumn or winter. Because during the summer, all the fish, animals and plant life enjoy the abundant sunlight and are full of activities. The process of changing pond liners at that time will be time-consuming and can take as much as a couple of weeks to complete.
But as the day becomes shorter, the amount of sunlight they receive becomes more and more scarce. So they become a bit passive once autumn rolls around. By the time winter comes, some animals hibernate while most others become largely inactive. This is the perfect time to replace a pond liner as it will require much less effort and time to do so.
2. Condition of the liner
This is another factor that has to be considered while changing the pond liner. Most liners are advertised to last more than 20 years, and most of the time, they do so as well. But for the sake of safety, it is better to start thinking about changing the liners after a decade. If you see any sign of the liner aging and wearing off, change it as soon as possible.
How do pond liners get damaged?
Pond liners can get damaged due to a variety of reasons. From old age to misuse, the reasons for pond liner damage are many.
1. Old age
As with everything in this world, old age damages a pond liner as well. Some liners can last from anywhere between 20 to 40 years. If they are not abused, they are going to last as long as they are supposed to. But as they are nearing the end of their expiration date, they will start to wear off.
2. Installing on ground
If there is one thing you must not do while installing a pond liner, it is to install them on the ground. As the ground contains rocks, pebbles, and many other sharp objects, the liner is pressed onto them due to the water pressure of the pond. As a result, these rocks and other things protrude through the liner, damaging it in the process.
3. Frequent Treading on the liner
This one actually can not be helped. The liners are usually made up of rubber. So if it is frequently stepped on, it will inevitably get damaged. But due to maintenance-related reasons, the pond owners have to step into the water from time to time. So, the liner will get damaged, no matter how careful one is.
How to replace a pond liner?
There are a few steps that need to be followed when changing a pond liner. If they are followed correctly, you will not have to worry about changing the pond liner for a long, long time.
Step 1: Removing and placing the fish and plants
The first thing that needs to be done before you do anything to the pond liner is to remove the fish, animals, and plants from the pond. Take two 5 gallon tanks and fill them with pond water. Take the water from the top of the pond as it contains less debris. After that, catch the fish with a net and put them into one tank and the plants into the other.
Step 2: Draining the pond
After you are done removing and placing the fish and plant in your pond, drain the water completely with a pump. Then take a shovel and clean the liner of any kind of debris, sand, and dirt. Remove the rocks, bricks, or stones that had been put while installing the older liner to keep it in its place as well.
Step 3: Removing the old liner
Once you have drained and cleaned the pond, roll the old liner up and remove it from the pond. It may prove difficult to do by yourself, so get at least two other people to help you.
Step 4: Preparing the ground
After the old liner is removed, take a look at the ground below. Look for rocks, stones, or any other kind of sharp or edged object that might damage your liner. Remove them and put a layer of sand up to a couple of inches thick on the bottom.
Step 5: Placing the new liner
Now, take the new liner and place it on the floor of the pond. Try to make sure there are no wrinkles and folds in the liner when installing it. Do not let the people from earlier go, as you will need their help placing the liner.
Then start to pour water into the pond with a hose. When the water is being poured, stand atop the liner and try to fix any wrinkles and folds that may have been present in the liner. Sometimes the folds are created automatically as the water is being poured.
Step 6: Treating the water
Most of the time the newer water will contain chlorine which is toxic for the fish and plants. So remove this chlorine with a water dechlorinator and turn the pump on. This will circulate the water and produce the necessary oxygen for the fish.
Step 7: Releasing the Fish and Plant
It is recommended to wait 48 hours before releasing the fish back into the pond. But in reality, it is sometimes impossible as the shallow 5-gallon tank gets too warm for the fish. Release the fish into the pond one by one.
After releasing the fish, put the plants back into the pond. Then in a 15-minute interval, gradually add one gallon of water from the fish tank to the pond. This will help the water temperature to be equalized.
Things to remember while replacing an old pond liner
Although not a piece of cake, the process of replacing old pond liners is simple enough. This simple process can turn into a hassle if you don’t keep a few things in mind.
1. Maintaining the interim fish tank
Properly maintain the tank you are keeping the fish in during the time the liner is being changed. Otherwise, you won’t have any fish to release into the pond. Properly aerate the tank with an aquarium air pump. You will need a proper filtration system to support the nitrogen cycle as well.
Reduce or even stop feeding the fish. Leftover food will create toxic materials in the tank. The fish will survive without food for a short amount of time.
Put a net over the tank. Sometimes the fish may get scared and try to jump out of the water. Also, predators can easily snatch the fish out of the tank. A covering of the net will prevent these things from happening.
2. Taking pictures of the pond
To install a new pond liner, you have to remove all the stones and such things you had placed to keep the old liner in place. You might forget in what order you had placed them during the installation process. Taking a picture of the pond before starting the work will make your life a lot easier.
3. Evaluating the plumbing issues
Sometimes there are a few plumbing issues that are left unchecked as they remain under the pond liner. As you have now removed the liner itself, there is no better time for you to address those issues before installing a new one.
4. No Shortcuts
As there are no shortcuts to being Hokage (shoutout to all the naruto fans out there), there isn’t one in this case either. Taking a shortcut will mean you have left out important details which will later come to haunt you and wear the pond liner off much earlier than expected. As you only need to replace pond liners once in every 20/30 years, do it properly.
Types of Pond liners
Depending on the type of Pond liners you use, they will survive for a varying amount of time. There are a few types of pond liners from which you can choose.
1. EPDM liners
They are made of rubber materials that resemble the inner tube of a bicycle Tyre. Flexibility and durability wise, they are the best
2. PVC pond liners
Although they are flexible as well, they are not very durable as they are very thin. To get the best use of them, cover them with soil.
3. RPE Liners
These are the strongest of the lot. But the downside is that they lack flexibility while also being costlier than others.
4. Welded Polypropylene pond liners
They are easy to use because they are able to be customized to a desired shape or size.
If you want to know more, you can look at my article on the best pond liner to find out about some of the most useful liners for ponds at the moment.
Can you place the new pond liner over the old one?
Sometimes people don’t want to go through the hassle of removing the old liner, preparing the ground, etc. So they want to put the new liner on top of the old one and be done with it. In most cases, it can be done.
As long as there are no sharp and edged objects like rocks and such that are protruding through the old liner, you can easily install the new liner on top of the old one. Not only does it save you a lot of work, but the old liner also provides much-needed stability and protection to the new pond liner.
A final word
Pond liners are an important part of the pond. As they usually survive for a long time, it is necessary to take good care of them. This will save you from any unnecessary workload and stress. Once you are done with installing it in winter or late autumn, you can have a nice and cozy spring, as you should.