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Garden Pond Maintenance 101

Updated: May 15

Our water garden design team at DSLD Land Management in Birmingham, AL, loves to work with homeowners to incorporate a beautiful pond into your landscape. We even have a designated Aquascapes store in Greystone for you to find the aquatic plants and supplies you’ll need. A pond of any kind requires upkeep and maintenance, let’s go over how to maintain your backyard pond and care for aquatic life, so that you can enjoy your pond all year round.  Regular pond maintenance is good for any and all aquatic life in your yard. You can enjoy a wonderful ecosystem by just taking proper care of your structure and the water. If you are raising koi or goldfish and growing aquatic plants, you can be sure to enjoy beautiful fish and stunning plants with proper care. 

1. Clean Your Pond RegularlyGarden ponds accumulate dirt and debris over time. Fallen leaves can release toxic gases (into the water) when decaying, which can disrupt the ecological balance. Use a skimmer net to collect and remove leaves and other light debris regularly. A pond vacuum is helpful for removing sludge and an excess of mud. Make sure to leave a little mud to support the growth of algae. If you want to do a full cleaning, drain all the water first using a pump or container and put any fish, turtles, etc in another tank or reservoir. Next, scoop up the sludge and clean the bottom completely. You can also clean the liner and edging materials with a brush. After you have completed cleaning, return a small amount of the sludge and refill the pond with fresh water. Finally, return your fish, turtles, etc. safely. It’s a good idea to do a full cleaning in the Spring.

2. Manage Surrounding PlantsIf you have several trees in your yard close to your pond, you will most likely have to deal with falling leaves. You can prevent this problem by using a trap net secured with rocks. At the peak time of falling leaves, you will probably need to empty the net regularly to prevent it and its content from falling into the water. If you have trees hanging over the structure, try to prune them back, since excessive shade can prevent light from reaching the aquatic plants, inhibiting them from getting full photosynthesis.

3. Grow Aquatic PlantsThe best time to introduce new plants is in the early summer when the water is warm enough to support rapid plant growth. Some categories of plants that you should consider growing include oxygenators, lilies, marginals, floaters, and marshes. You can boost the growth of the plants with a suitable fertilizer which you can apply every 5 weeks. Avoid any kind of toxic fertilizers or inorganic pesticides in order to keep your aquatic wildlife healthy. If any of the aquatic plants die as a result of cold weather or at the end of their lifespan, remove them immediately to prevent the disruption of the water chemistry.

4. Control Ice in WinterIce is a common problem in winter, even here in the South. If your pond's water surface freezes, the water below the ice starts to get limited oxygen and puts your aquatics in danger. You can prevent freezing by floating a ball or de-icer on the surface. You can also install a heater. A cover is another great option for particularly cold spells. Use PVC materials or lumber to construct the cover, and remember that your chosen material should be clear or transparent to allow light into the water.

5. Control Algae GrowthAlgae are beneficial in a garden pond, but they can cause problems when they grow excessively. These non-flowering plants are a good source of food for your aquatic animals, so it is recommended not to remove all of them. When it comes to controlling these micro-plants, you can use both natural and artificial methods. One natural way is to grow aquatic plants that can compete with the micro-plants for nutrients and other resources or introduce cover plants like lilies which minimize the amount of light reaching the algae. For the artificial methods, you can use a rake (or similar tool) to physically remove the non-flowering plants. You can also use algaecides or even an ultraviolet water purifier or sterilizer to control the micro-plants.

6. Maintain the Pump, Filter, Lines, and FountainsThese parts are commonly found in large or complex ponds, and are prone to clogs from debris. If your pump or mechanical filter gets clogged, disconnect it and flush out the debris. The lines and fountains can suffer from limescale and algae bloom. To maintain these parts, you can clean them with chemicals to remove the limescale, and algaecides to kill the algae.

7. Check for Any LeaksIf your pond's water level starts to drop rapidly, it could very well be a leak. If the surrounding ground is inexplicably wet, then your pond is most likely leaking. To repair the leak, first drain the water. Then repair the structure with the right materials. Some commonly used materials are soil, concrete, and rocks. If there is repair work that you cannot do on your own, you can contact us to get connected with a pond repair professional.

8. Maintain the Right Water LevelThe water level of a pond can drop quickly in hot weather, and can make the aquatic organisms lack enough oxygen. If you notice a reduction in the water level, top up the pond with clean water. You can use a garden hose or install a water supply system consisting of a fill valve and filter. You need to keep three-quarters of the structure full throughout the year. In extremely hot months, you can refill on a weekly basis.

9. Aerate Your PondYou can introduce oxygenating plants to improve oxygen levels. You can also use waterfalls or fountains to essentially move the water around more. Well-aeration water is quite beneficial to aquatic life. It allows everything to get enough oxygen, boosting healthier growth in the plants and animals. It also reduces algae growth and odor formation, facilitating a pleasant water garden.

The Work Is Worth the EffortMaintaining a backyard pond and caring for aquatic life is a bit of work, but we know you can do it and we know it’s worth it! We hope this guide helps. Aquascapes, DSLD’s water garden store located on Hwy 280 across from Lee Branch, provides a wide variety of pond supplies and aquatic plants. If you don’t have a pond yet but would like to add one to your landscape, contact DSLD today! We install interactive koi ponds, natural rock veneer ponds, mini garden ponds, and so much more. Let our water garden design team go to work for you on your water garden design for your home in the Birmingham, AL area! 

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