Everyone with a garden pond or a backyard pond wants it to look healthy all year round, and why not? It is a wonderful feature of any property.
A garden or backyard pond provides hours of fun for kids and a relaxing ambiance for adults. If nothing else, it ties the property’s beauty with vegetation and aquatic life swirling in circles.
However, there is no denying that keeping the pond looking its best requires a lot of work and arduous hours of labor.
This is because a healthy pond means a healthy pond ecosystem. Maintaining your pond ecosystem is a sure way of having your pond look its best all year round.
But pond maintenance isn’t as complex as it sounds, and this article will give you a rundown of some of the best practices for a healthy pond.
Important Pond Maintenance Practices
The main idea of a healthy pond is to maintain balance in the pond ecosystem. Every pond has its unique ecosystem, and keeping the conditions, qualities, and characteristics of a pond ecosystem determines the healthiness of that pond.
However, nature tends to act differently at specific times or seasons. This means your pond care tactics will vary to maintain its ecosystem.
Aeration is a compulsory practice for pond maintenance. Whether you have a small decorative pond, koi pond, larger pond, small backyard pond, or lake, aeration is vital to pond cleaning.
Oxygen levels in ponds decrease when it’s stagnant. This is because dissolved oxygen floats to the surface, leaving the bottom devoid of oxygen. Low oxygen means fish death. Aeration and/or agitation breathe oxygen back into pond water.
Although not a direct treatment, aeration can protect your pond and fish from an algae bloom and die-off. By providing more oxygen, it increases the activity of beneficial bacteria.
Beneficial bacteria help decompose dead algae and other pond scum. This is one of the reasons aeration is vital in the summer and fall.
During winter, fish and other aquatic life enter hibernation. This gives algae free rein over the oxygen in pond water. Algae bloom denies your fish oxygen during this period leading to fish death.
Aeration reintroduces oxygen while helping to remove nitrogen and phosphorus, the major food source for algae. Phosphorus and nitrogen increase when pond water freezes over.
If you have a fairly deep or deep pond, getting a submersible pond pump can help circulate your pond water and maintain safe oxygen levels.
Water features like fountains or waterfalls can provide aeration for shallow ponds. But if your pond freezes over during winter periods, the submersible pump or bottom diffuser is a must either way.
Reduced Fish Feeding
Limiting the amount of feeding you do does wonders for your pond. For one, it doesn’t allow debris and sludge to accumulate at the bottom of your pond. Excess feed is decomposed into a high nutrient load that supports pond algae bloom and pond water discoloration.
In early spring, administering cold temperature feed helps aquatic life after hibernation. A regular feeding program can start when the temperature reaches a steady 50°F – 60°F during summer and fall.
An easily digestible wheat germ diet would suffice, but high protein feed is also good. Wheatgerm is a fall-friendly feed for koi fish. Only feed your fish three times a week except when feed is consumed within five minutes.
During winter, fish can only digest low-protein foods like wheat germ. But as soon as the temperature drops below 41°F, stop feeding immediately. This is because fish enter hibernation at that temperature.
There are significant benefits to adding bacteria to your pond water. Beneficial bacteria help reduce excess nutrients and degrade green mucky sludge and organic material. The result of this is improved water quality and clarity.
Adding a pack of biodegradable bacteria per month will keep your pond water clean. Together with a proper aeration system, beneficial bacteria can make pond maintenance easier.
During the fall, debris and sludge can fall into pond water or stormwater. This debris can increase the water’s organic matter content, resulting in a high nutrient load.
They can also reduce pond depth and help algae bloom. Even during winter, ponds accumulate debris and organic waste like fish waste, grass clipping, twigs, and leaves.
While a filtration system can take care of the debris, some of these wastes turn into muck and sludge, which cause pond water discoloration and breed algae.
Using a fine mesh net can help remove falling debris. Pond vacuums and pumps can help remove debris that has already settled within the pond. A good old rake can also come in handy in removing debris, sludge, muck, and string algae.
Algae brush can do the trick in cleaning water features and fountains. It gets rid of the characteristic green stains.
Keeping equipment in proper working condition ensures that they work properly when needed. The ideal time to perform maintenance on your equipment is during the winter. But also double-check during the summer.
Routine filter cleaning of your pond filter should be done frequently in the summer and less in the winter. You may need to remove the filter to eliminate large, unmovable debris and sludge.
For the pond pump, regularly check if the propellers can move freely. Blanketweed and moss can find themselves lodged up between the blades. You can remove trapped sludge while washing the blades.
If you use a UV clarifier, ensure the indicator light still works. Remember to always change the lamps every twelve months. The bulbs start to lose their efficiency after six months.
Always keep an eye on the water level of your pond. It works as an indicator of leakages, as the water level drops when there is a leak. Leaks can occur in the pond liner or lining, pipework, and waterfalls.
If water levels drop despite the air pump or diffusers still running, the leak is most likely from the pond liner. In most cases, you can fix it, but sometimes a complete relining may be best.
Reducing the pond water to an acceptable level under the leak can help you better identify the zone.
If the pond water doesn’t drop when the pump is off, the leak is probably from the pipework or waterfall. Finding this leak is significant as it can drain the pond quickly if it is pump fed. Check for any moist area on the pipes or waterfall on a dry day.
Once you’ve identified the leak, contact any professional pond care or repair services near you.
Maintenance of Pond Plants
Pond plants need as much care as their terrestrial counterparts. Some of them play a huge role in algae control. Pond plants should be sufficiently fertilized or repotted if necessary.
Some aquatic plants, like pond lilies, cannot survive winter’s harsh conditions. You may need to remove and grow them in a greenhouse for protection.
Pruning plants is another way to keep them looking good. Prune plant as and when it is needed. Snip dead plants and ensure that the flower heads of plants with flowering species are removed.
This prevents the plant from acting as a source of nutrients or as organic matter for other aquatic lifeforms.
Doing this will ensure that your plants look good all year long.
A mucky pond can create all sorts of trouble. It can breed mosquitoes, smell bad, and be irritating to look at. There is no way to enjoy the peace and tranquility of having a pond when it is unhealthy.
Cleaning your pond restores the beauty that ties into the aesthetics of your home. Proper maintenance ensures it never stops looking beautiful and soothing all year round.