Springtime pond maintenance is an inevitable part of upkeep. After enduring a cold winter, chances are your pond could use a little spring cleaning. Failing to thoroughly prepare your water garden for the summer ahead increases the likelihood of murky water and sick fish when the weather starts to warm. The good news is, if you keep up with year-round pond care, springtime preparation and cleaning for a backyard water garden is much less daunting.
Pump and System Inspection
If you experience frost and leave your pump off during the winter, you want to inspect it to make sure it's in working order. Check the filters to ensure they're not clogged or warped. While they do not need to be spotless, they should be removed for a thorough cleaning with plain water. Replace the filter media (varies depending upon the filter) and any worn or broken parts to guarantee the system is working as efficiently as possible.
Even with netting, leaves make their way into your pond throughout the winter and settle to the bottom where they decompose. Also, any water plants that were allowed to overwinter in the pond will leave a layer of organic material that has to be removed. Arguably the least pleasant aspect of pond maintenance, scum removal is key to achieving clear water. If there is more than 1/2 inch of dead plant matter on the bottom, drain the pond by at least 50 percent and manually scoop or vacuum to remove as much as you can. Algae and bacteria flourish in these conditions and will affect the health and water clarity of your pond.
Once you have drained the pond for bottom cleaning, any fish you have can be removed safely. When draining the pond to remove fish, remove all but 5 inches of water. This water level makes it easy to see and gently remove the fish while keeping stress levels to a minimum. Carefully place fish into holding containers and inspect each one for visible signs of illness, stress or skin ulcers. Quarantine sick fish and treat them immediately to contain the spread of disease.
While the pond is drained, inspect the aquatic plants in and around your water garden. Divide or thin out prolific plants that appear to be too crowded in their pots and spread them out. Trim dead foliage if you haven't already done so and move any plants that were overwintered in the deep end to their original places. You do not have to fertilize now; the little water left in your pond after draining has enough nutrients this time of year to keep your water garden's balance in check.
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