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SPRING PREP FOR ZONE 5 GARDEN PONDS
the days get longer and the weather warms your gardening soul, take
time to do a few clean-up chores in and around your
Rake and trim the area in close proximity of your pond. Check the
margins and surrounding drainage, making sure your pond is protected
- Examine the pond edge for stability and replace any distressed or
- Trim any remaining winter-worn foliage in the pond, dredging all leaves
from the bottom of the pond, shelves and streambed.
- Hand pick and pull off the excess hair
algae growing on containers near
the surface and on the shelves and walls of the liner.
Most ponds do not require a full cleaning each year, but if you have
“inches” of muck on the bottom, it may be time for at least a partial
cleaning. Most of this buildup can be at least partially removed with
a fine mesh net or by use of a siphon hose or shop vac. Left in the
pond, this muck can produce harmful gases and contribute to algae
growth; removed from the pond and used to feed other plants in your
garden, it is fondly referred to as "Pond-Gold"!
until Fall for a full pond cleaning. In the Spring,
fish are at their weakest. Their immune systems are not very active
until the water temps rise into the 60's. This makes them very vulnerable
to diseases and parasites, particularly if their slime coating is
In late March, or early April, begin raising plants you lowered for
winter, keeping crowns several inches below the water surface as protection
from late frosts. As soon as you see signs of active growth, plants
can be fertilized or divided and repotted. Tropical plants such as
Umbrella Palms and floating Water Hyacinth should not go out until
after May Day. Wait for early June for tropical waterlilies, when
water temps are steady at 70's F.
normally appears in all ponds during early spring before the other
plants have had a chance to grow and compete. This is a natural, healthy
DO NOT use algaecides
and DO NOT flush and
refill your pond!
- Make sure the pond has a good balance
of plants, fish and scavengers. When in doubt, add plants that compete
for nutrients and shade the pond.
- Add beneficial bacteria to speed up balancing & minimize the
- Wait to feed fish until the water temps are above
50° F, only 1 or 2 times per week what they eat in 5 minutes. Use
high carbohydrate “cool season” foods until temps rise to 65° F +.
- Check the KH
and pH. Proper KH levels (125-180
ppm) help to stabilize the pH, allowing it to remain at lower levels.
When the pH is below 8.2, plants effectively take in nutrients to
compete with algae. High pH can stress fish, inhibit plant growth
and curb the beneficial functions of bacteria and other microscopic
organisms in your pond. Algae has a greater tolerance for high pH,
and does well, while fish, scavengers and other plants are struggling.
- Add barley products in March. They release natural compounds that
discourage the growth of algae. Renew barley in early summer for continued
- Keep your filters clean, and add or improve filtration
all green plants, including algae, are beneficial in the garden pond.
They all absorb nutrients, convert them to new plant tissue and give
off O2 as a by-product. This is known as photosynthesis.
DO NOT scrub the algae off the sides of your pond. It provides O2
your fish need to survive and it is a digestible food source for them
throughout the year. A balanced water garden contains relatively clear
water, yet allows algae to exist for the benefit of other pond inhabitants.
HOSES AND FILTERS
Whether your system ran all Winter or
you turned it off for the season, be sure to spend some time
taking care of all the pieces and parts which make up “the works”
before turning on your waterfalls, streams and fountains:
- Clean your pump. Remove impeller housing to
wipe algae and water sediments from impeller, intake and outflow.
- Clean pump screens and intake filters on your mechanical filters,
replacing foam or other filter media as needed.
- Flush all hoses and piping with a pressure hose, forward and backward
if possible, to dislodge algae buildup which constricts water flow.
- If your system includes a Skimmer, take time to fully clean the
skimmer box before the season begins, cleaning or replacing the filter
mats and nets as needed.
- Check all plumbing connections, making sure they are snug and stable.
- If your system includes a Bio-Filter,
and it wasn’t cleaned and drained in the fall, clean it before you
start-up your system. Remove sludge from settlement areas, and rinse
or replace lava rock or other filter media. If you are using lava
rock as your bio-media, it will need to be replaced every 2-3 years.
- Wait to begin seeding bacteria until the water temperature stabilizes
above 45° F.
- Reinstall U.V.'s, making sure quartz sleeves are clean. Replace
rubber seals and bulbs as needed. It's easy to track replacement dates
if you note them on a piece of duct tape somewhere on the housing.
ON WATERFALLS AND FOUNTAINS
Several factors affect how early in
the season you should turn on the moving water features
in your water garden.
Weather: In some years Springtime comes earlier than others.
- Structure: Mortared margins are more sensitive to freeze/thaw damage
than dry stack.
- Volume: Consider the pump’s volume relative to the size of the pond.
- Distance: Water cools faster over longer distances than short ones.
Remember, the more air the water moves through, the more radical the
temperature fluctuations in the pond system.
speaking, mid March is a safe time to start up short
runs. After this date, even if we get snow, the air temps will
climb right back up and melt the snow within a couple of days. For
longer runs, wait until late April. Avoid icy build-up on stream and
waterfall stones. This can stress or fracture stone and/or divert
water outside the system.
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