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WATER GARDEN MAINTENANCE

If you are a gardener, the pond will be your favorite part of the garden to tend. It typically takes less time and effort than a perennial or vegetable plot and the results will make you want to linger at the water’s edge! (pun intended)

Listed below are the ‘tools of the trade’ and a set of typical tasks with our recommended frequencies. Although each pond is different, and each pondkeeper has a different bent on the detailing, following these guidelines will NOT lead you astray! A little bit of effort on a regular basis will reward you with a beautiful, healthy pond that you will enjoy for many years!

Handy Equipment and Gear:
Bucket- for storing water treatments, fertilizer tabs, etc.
Floating Tray- for tools and debris while in the pond
Dowel or Poker (1/2” diam.)- to push in and cover fertilizer tabs
Stainless (non-rusting) Nippers with BRIGHT handles- for nip-trimming
Course Net (1/4” Mesh)- for dredging big stuff or catching fish
Fine Mesh Net (1/16” Mesh)- for dredging/skimming fine stuff
Good Hose End Shut-Off- for numerous uses!
Chest Waders- for body protection, & to keep warm during cool seasons
Long Sleeve Gloves or Gauntlets- for cool seasons
Wet/Dry Shop Vac- to clean out biofilters, skimmers & pond bottoms

Routine Maintenance Tasks
for the growing season
Recommended Frequency
Weekly or Bi-Weekly:

Visually inspect area for potential problems
- equipment functioning properly?
- structures holding well?
- signs of fish disease or stress?
- signs of predators?
- plants clogging streams or waterfalls?
Top pond and dechlorinate new water
Dose beneficial bacteria to reduce sludge
Clean pump intake screens, skimmers & other mechanical filters
Trim old/excess foliage and thin floating plants
Skim surface

 

Weekly

Weekly
Weekly

Weekly / Bi-weekly

Weekly / Bi-weekly
Weekly / Bi-weekly

Monthly or Bi-Monthly:

Test KH and pH, adjust as needed
Fertilize plants:
- Water Lilies and Lotus (twice as often in July and August)
- Flowering Marginal Plants
- Rushes and Sedges

 
 
Monthly

Monthly

Bi-monthly
April and July

As Needed:

Dredge/vacuum bottom debris
Other water quality checks (ammonia, nitrites) when new fish are added
Flush Bio-filters
Clean UV Sleeves
Flush tubing to spitters, fountains and bubblers

  

As needed
As needed

As needed
Bi-monthly
As needed

Remember to turn off your pump whenever you service your pond - you do not want to expose it to debris while you are cleaning screens and filters! This will extend the life the pump. Leave it off while you dose beneficial bacteria and trim plants...and don’t forget to turn pumps on when you have finished!

Season Maintenance Tasks Recommended Frequency
Spring (March - mid May):  
   
Raise Plants (Zone 6 & 7) for the season March/April
Remove, clean, and store winter bubbler/de-icer March/April
Clean Pump, flush hoses and valves March/April
Clean out bio-filter (at beginning or end of season)
Replace bulbs for UV's (usually every other season)
March/April
As needed
Turn on waterfall and seed bio-filter March/April
Divide/repot plants, except for iris As needed
Begin fertilizing & top pots w/ fresh pea gravel/sand As needed
Add seasonal plants (early bloomers and floaters) April/May
Begin feeding fish when water temp is 55 F and rising As desired
Restock submerged aquatics As needed
   
   
Summer (Late May - Late August):  
   
Refer to our routine maintenance tasks for the growing season!
Add seasonal plants (tropical lilies, cannas, etc.)
As desired
   
Fall (late August - early November):  
   
Divide Iris and Rushes Aug/Oct
Install leaf netting or increase skimming frequency Sept/Oct
Remove Floaters and Tropical Marginals before frost Sept/Oct
Stop feeding fish when water temp is below 55F Nov/Dec
Lower Plants (Zone 6 & 7) and remove Tropical Lilies when heavy frost is eminent Nov/Dec
   
Winter (early November - February):  
   
Turn off waterfalls, streams, and fountains Nov/Dec
Winterize pumps and filters as needed Nov/Dec
Winterize UV's Nov/Dec
Install winter bubbler/de-icer equipment Nov/Dec
Clean out bio-filter (at end or beginning of season) Nov/Dec
Full or partial pond cleaning (best time for cleaning is after leaf fall)  As needed

Adjust water level, skim surface.  Note: for longest life of stonework,

keep the water level just below stones during heavy frost season.

As needed
Visually inspect area for potential problems Weekly
Clean bubbler pump intake screen/filter As needed

A COUPLE OF LAST NOTES...

Below is a short list of supplies and consumables to keep on hand:

Dechlorinator- Keep enough on hand to treat your full pond

Beneficial Bacteria- Dose regularly to reduce sludge build-up
Test Kits- Buy new each spring for best readings
Aquatic Fertilizer- Your plants will love you
Fish Food- Your fish will love you
Barley Extract or Pellets- They help minimize algae

We have found that routine maintenance of water gardens can eliminate (or at least minimize) the need for full pond cleanings. Draining and cleaning out a neglected pond is a mucky and stressful task for you, your plants and your fish and...it takes a while for all to recoup and balance out again.

If you must do a full pond clean-out, try to plan it for late fall / early winter after the leaves have fallen and while your fish are still strong and healthy.



Spring Facts for Zone 5 Ponds Fall and Winter Prep for Zone 5 Ponds

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