The snow has thawed, the birds are chirping, it’s time for the best part of the year; Pond Season!! Whether it’s made with cement, liner or plastic, it will require a bit of work. If it wasn’t closed properly before winter, you might be in for some extra work. If your pond was closed properly for the year, you’ll breeze through it in no time. Some ponds don’t require them to be shut down for the winter; if that’s the case, skip to step 4.
Proper maintenance and upkeep will extend the life of your pond by years. Simply follow these steps and you’ll be enjoying your pond in no time! Bring your pond back to life!
Tank for holding any fish
Sump pump or equivalent
Pressure washer or hose with nozzle and high water pressure
A couple of garbage bags or yard debris bags
Garden tools such as: plant pruners and a hand trowel
Step 1 - Drain the Pond, Remove Your Fish and Place Them in an Aerated Container
Fish require oxygen, before starting you’ll want to ensure you have an oxygen supply such as air stones or a pump. Simply take a container large enough to house the fish and air supply for a few hours, fill it with water from the pond, this will ensure they stay in water that is the same temperature and the change won’t shock them. Now place the air supply and fish in the container for the duration of the clean-out. Place the sump pump or equivalent pump into the bottom of the pond and plug it in to start pumping. If you wait to remove the fish until the pond is low or about 6 to 10” it will make them very easy to catch.
Step 2 - Clean All Filters and Filter Mats Thoroughly
If your pond has a filtration system, clean all filter media using the same pond water that the sump pump is draining. Using this water will ensure your filters keep as much beneficial bacteria as possible. Your pond is a living thing; it takes certain bacteria to ensure the health of your pond and fish. Removing too much of this bacteria can do more harm than good. If you don’t have any filtration, I highly recommend looking into some options for your pond, there are plenty of filtration systems out there so locate a nearby professional for help with your specific pond.
Step 3 - Pressure Wash All the Boulders, Gravel and Pond Surfaces
Once the pond is drained, you’ll want to pressure wash the entire pond starting from the top waterfall or fountain area and working your way to the inside of your pond. Get all crevices to ensure it’s thoroughly cleaned. This step goes for concrete or lined ponds as well. If you have a liner, don’t get too close to it with the pressure washer as it could puncture the liner. Although pressure washers do a better job, if you don’t have one, you could use a garden hose with a high pressure nozzle attachment, it will just take some extra effort.
Step 4 - Remove All Debris
Clean up all debris in and around the pond, remove plant debris that has fallen into the pond. Cut back any overgrown or dead plants in the pond if necessary. Make sure all mold, algae and unwanted materials are cleaned up in this stage.
Step 5 - Re-stack Any Boulders or Rocks That May Have Shifted or Fallen Out Of Place
Ensure all boulders are secure and don’t move, fill any areas that have missing rocks and inspect any exposed liner before covering them with existing stone. Stacking small stones or stones that are the same size can make it look man made and cluttered, try using different sizes in all areas.
Step 6 - Check Plants and Landscaping
Inspect all plants for disease or harmful insects, look for invasive roots. If you have mulch or landscaping around the pond, replace and fill where necessary. This will probably be the most in depth look you’ll take at your pond this year so this is the perfect opportunity to inspect all plants as well and come up with a plan to make the area more beautiful with more plants, features and landscaping. Adding simple foliage and ground cover plants is a great way to make the area look more natural and visually appealing.
Step 7 - Check the Lights and Electrical Components
Inspect all electrical cords, outlets and components for damage and wear. Replace where needed, be sure to shut off all power to the area and it might be worth hiring a professional if you’re unfamiliar with the electrical components. Replace any broken or burnt out bulbs on lighting where needed. Consider switching to LED lights for brighter, more efficient lights.
Step 8 - Thoroughly Flush and Pump Out the Entire Pond Until Water Is Clear
Spray the rocks and drain the pond continuously until the water is clear. This may take more than one flush out to complete. This is the final step before you remove the sump pump so make sure the water is clear and free of debris.
Step 9 - Inspect the Pond Pump System
Remove any fountain and waterfall pumps, open them up and inspect the inner components, look for any wear, damage, corrosion and build ups. Clean the pump and replace components as necessary. For any build ups, use white vinegar and a soft brush to clean the parts. If you are not comfortable with this step, you can get a local professional to look at it as well. Doing this at each fall close or once a year minimum will drastically improve your pumps life.
Step 10 - Install the Pump and Put Filters Back Together
Re-install the pump system, install the filters and ensure all parts of the pond are back where they belong.
Step 11 - Refill the Pond Using Garden Hose and Turn on Waterfalls or Fountains
Fill the pond to the required level and turn on all water flow systems such as waterfalls, streams or fountains. This will get the pond circulating properly again. Keep in mind, when you turn on the waterfalls or fountains, they will lower the water level slightly so keep the hose in during this step.
Step 12 - Add Detoxifier and an Initial Dose of Beneficial Bacteria
This step is often overlooked, I can’t stress enough how important this is. Your pond is a living system incorporating multiple living organisms to ensure a proper functioning system. Adding the proper strains of bacteria will help ensure the ponds health and overall system health. It will also help with the health of your fish and overall look of your pond. This step is crucial to achieving clear water as well.
Step 13 - Gently Re-acclimate Fish
The water you just filled the pond with will most likely be cold; to prevent shock you’ll need to acclimate your fish to the new temperature. Place fish in bags filled with water or put the entire container into the water to acclimate the fish until the temperature of the bags or container is close to or the same to the temperature of the pond. This will help prevent shock, potential issues or even death of the fish. Acclimation will take 20 minutes or longer. Once acclimated, take the fish out one by one with a fish net so the old water doesn’t get into the fresh water.
Step 14 - Pull Up A Chair and Enjoy Your Fresh, Clean Pond!
By following these simple steps, you’ll ensure a great start to the pond season and it will give you your time back by requiring less maintenance throughout the year. As pond owners, we know how enjoyable ponds can be; having a low maintenance pond that looks amazing will not only allow you to enjoy your yard more but draw people to your yard. There’s nothing as calming as the sound of a pond!
If you have any comments, tips or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will try answer any questions as quick as possible. If you need personalized help with an issue or want a pond installed, let me know below and I might be able to help direct you to an amazing, certified pond installer in your area.
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