Pond maintenance tips to keep a nature pond healthy and clear.

Five things that will keep a pond healthy with clear water.

  1. A well-maintained nature pond is a healthy pond. One key way to keep the water healthy and clear is to have some-kind of system to keep the water moving, a waterfall or fountain will work fine,
  2. Avoid over stocking with Koi, but if you must keep the gulping greedy things don't overfeed them, the surplus food and waste from the fish themselves provide the nutrients algae need to thrive and turn your water green.
  3. Koi should be avoided all-together if you want to attract pond-life to a nature pond, they eat everything in site, even the plants.
  4. Keep marginal plants, deep water plants and floaters, especially Duckweed, under control making sure the plants don't take over.
  5. Remove most falling leaves and dead plants with a net. (For nature ponds leave some leaves on the bottom for plants to root and pond-life to live. Wildlife ponds)
keeping a balance between plant and animal life in your garden pond
keep a balance between plant and animal life

Cleaning a wildlife pond

A pond with an established culture and a natural balance between plant and animal life will need less attention than one where there isn’t, but even nature ponds need maintenance to ensure they remain healthy. Here are a few tips to help maintain your pond through the seasons.  

 

Small ponds need cleaning about every five years, large ponds about every 10 years. 

Natural ponds and man-made ponds designed and built to attract and sustain wildlife should not be cleaned to often and never completely cleaned out at all.  It can take years to develop a balanced ecosystem and  just a day to destroy it. It's a fine balance between cleaning a pond and ruining it.

 
The best time to clean ponds, is from winter through to early Spring when most pond life is less active. 

 Equipment you will need to clear out a pond. 

  • Container to keep the fish in.
  • A pump to empty the pond.
  • Buckets and a shovel to clear the silt and decaying pond plants.
  • Spade and loppers to divide and trim overgrown plants, maybe a saw to divide plants like Irises with thick roots.
  • A scrubbing brush to clean the liner and water features.

Pond cleaning tips

  • Fill a suitable container with water from the pond  to put the fish, oxygenating weed and deep water plants into whilst you are cleaning out the pond. Marginal plants can be stored in old plant pots, buckets and washing up bowls etc. .
  • Pump the water out off the pond by disconnecting the hose from filters or water features and pointing it to a downward slope away from the pond.  Even small ponds hold a lot of water and if there's nowhere to drain the water to, without it running back into the pond or flooding borders or you don't have a pump, you may need to hire a pump with a long hose to drain the pond water into drains. Removing the water manually with buckets takes for ever. Save as much of  the water as you can to return to the pond.
  • As the water level drops, remove fish with a net.  Try not to disturb plants as this may muddy the water, making it difficult to see and catch the fish. 
  • Remove plants. Check all the fish have been caught, one or two fish will hide in the silt and can be caught later when you scoop it out from the bottom, look out for them wriggling.   Lift the pond plants out and place them on the edge of the pond to allow smaller creatures to escape back into the pond, then into containers. 
  • Put any larger pond life into the container. Providing there's  cover in the garden, frogs are best left to hop away, they will return to the pond when its finished. 
  • When all plants and fish are safe, scoop up the silt with buckets.  Silt is a great organic fertiliser for  borders and vegetable plots.
  • keep a few buckets of silt and pond water to add back to the pond to help re-establish tiny organisms. 
  • Clean the liner with a scrubbing brush and fresh water,( I don't scrub the liner, there 's no need too) never use chemical cleaners or washing up liquid in a nature pond. Bail the remaining dirty water out with a bucket. 
  • Replant the pond plants and position the marginal on the shelves, placing stones on the roots to stop them floating or falling of the shelf. 
  • Reconnect the pump to the water feature, Its a good idea to place the pump on bricks just off the bottom to stop it getting clogged up. 
  • Important. Pour the saved silt and pond water back in to the pond and top up. 
  • Check everything is working and the plants aren't floating. 
  • Return the fish and any other creatures to the pond. The muddy water will clear within a few days. 
Depending on how much silt and water was returned to the pond, a cleaned out pond can take several months or even years to return to a balanced ecosystem.
 
Repairing leaks in ponds tips 

Pond Maintenance things to do in autumn and winter.

Things to do in autumn and winter.

Use a net to sweep leaves from the surface of your pond to keep the water free of decaying vegetation. 

Remove dead leaves from marginal plants to stop them falling over and decaying below the surface.

Prune back the excess growth of surface and submerged plants so that plenty of light can get through to deeper plants in your pond to allow them to continue to photosynthesize and replenish oxygen levels.

Looking after garden ponds in winter.

Continue to remove dead  leaves and any other debris from the surface of your pond.

Dead head marginal plants, in the same way you do with garden plants, to encourage new growth and allow for bigger and brighter blooms of flowers.

If you can, move new plants that are planted in baskets, like lilies towards the deepest part of the pond to prevent their tubers freezing. Established plants that are more than two years old, have obviously survived a couple of winters and can be left alone. 

Fish are less active in winter as the temperatures drop and need less food, gradually reducing until stopping feeding altogether when the temperature drops below 10 C (50F). To much fish food is one of the main reason for the growth of algae.

 

How to stop your pond freezing over

It is important to keep your pond from freezing over, if the surface remains frozen for more than a few days it causes a buildup of gases and the oxygen levels to drop, killing your pond-life and fish. A frozen pond will also cut of the supply of drinking water for birds and other garden wildlife.

if you have a pump leave it on, the water movement will help keep an area free of ice and circulate the water helping keep up oxygen levels.

If you don't have a pump running keep a hole open in the ice by pouring on boiling water from a kettle, or if the ice isn't too thick poke holes in the ice with a broom handle or sharp stick, another way is to use one of the small floating pond-heating units.

 

 Repairing leaks in ponds tips