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Maintaining a Garden Pond: What To Do Each Season

If you’re a fan of nature, a garden pond could make an excellent addition to your yard. Not only are garden ponds visually appealing to look at, but they also attract wildlife.

Even though garden ponds look nice, many homeowners avoid installing one because of how much maintenance they require. Failure to maintain a garden pond results in algae-filled waters and sick fish.

While there is no denying that maintaining a garden pond will take time, there are certain tasks you can complete throughout the year to keep your pond looking clean. If you’re serious about owning a garden pond but are worried about upkeep, here’s a guide on what needs to be done each season. With proper care, your pond can look good all year long.

Shutdown in the fall

Once temperatures begin to drop, you should start preparing to winterize your pond. You’ll notice the fish in your pond starting to eat less, a sign that they’re about to hibernate for the winter. During this time, you’ll want to focus on the diet of your fish and feed them food that is formulated to nourish them during cooler weather.

Once the temperature hits 50 degrees F, stop feeding your fish. It is time to shut down your pond for the season. Get rid of any large debris from your pond and remove any dead plants. Do not drain any water from the pond at this time.

Instead, remove the pump and filter system and drain all the water from them. Store them in your garage or basement. This will help prevent them from cracking during the winter.

De-ice in the winter

During your winter months, be prepared for your pond to ice over. A completely iced over pond is dangerous for your fish, however, because carbon dioxide gets trapped under the ice.

To ensure that your fish have access to fresh air, you’re going to need to find a way to aerate your pond. One way to do this is to simply go out and pour boiling water onto the ice. An even better method is to invest in a pond aerator that bubbles at the surface of your pond, which ensures that there is always a small hole in the surface of the ice.

You don’t need to completely de-ice your entire pond. A small hole is all that it takes to keep your fish happy and healthy during the winter months.

Perform a spring clean-up

Once temperatures rise back up to 50 degrees F, it is time to do a spring clean-up! Your first step will be to remove any large debris, such as sticks or branches, that might have fallen into your pond during the winter.

You’ll then want to freshen up your water. Put your fish in a holding tank and then drain your pond. This can be done with a sump pump, similar to what you would use to drain a pool (here is a complete guide on using sump pumps). It is okay to leave some old water in your pond because it is rich in nutrients.

You’ll then want to clean and make any adjustments to your liner. Reconnect your pumps and filters, add fresh water, and treat the water. Add some of the new pond water in with your fish and allow them to adjust before reintroducing them to the pond.

Light maintenance in the summer

If you’ve followed all of the necessary maintenance throughout the other four seasons, summer is your chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy your pond! Some light maintenance is needed throughout the summer to ensure your water stays clean, but it shouldn’t be too labor-intensive.

About once a week, you’ll need to vacuum any large debris that has fallen into your pond. You’ll also want to check your filters and aeration kit to make sure they’re working properly. If your filters are clogged with debris, it is recommended that you use a bucket of pond water to clean them. This allows the beneficial bacteria that is in your water to continue to grow.

If you have fish and plants in your water, you’ll also need to regularly test the water to make sure the pH, nitrite, ammonia, and phosphate levels are just right.

In summary

A garden pond can be a focal point in most landscapes. If you want it to be a good focal point, however, you’re going to need to take steps to properly maintain it by providing it with the proper care each season.

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