Guide to Spring Cleaning Your Water Garden

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As the temperature warms, it’s time to get those water gardens — fountains, pondless waterfalls and ponds — in shape for spring. If you live in a cold winter area, you should have shut down your water features and drained all the lines to prevent water from transforming into ice, expanding and breaking your pipes. Now it’s time to get everything ready to enjoy again. In warm winter areas where systems continued to function, it’s time to clean them out and check for winter build-up and damage.

Fountains are the simplest of water gardens, so they’re relatively easy to clean.

  • Early spring is a good time to drain out any residual water and scrub out old dirt, algae and stains.
  • Test your pump and look for leakage in all lines.

Starting the season off with a clean water fixture will make for less maintenance later.

Pondless waterfalls are a cross between a fountain and a pond — with the water-recycling tub being underground instead of exposed to the air.

  • Pondless waterfalls need the same care as fountains. Since the underground tub is out of sight and more likely to have filled with detritus, these water features will need extra cleaning.

Ponds, the most complex of water gardens, need the most attention in early spring.

  • Not only clean and check lines, pipes and pumps, but also check on plants and fish.
  • Feed water and bog plants with food made especially for them.
  • Watch fish carefully as they come out of semi-dormancy. This is the prime time for disease to show up. If you see anything abnormal, isolate the affected fish and treat it and the whole pond right away.
  • Expect water in full sun to ‘bloom’ by turning bright green with tiny algae (or sometimes a less colorful brownish-green). The cloudy color will naturally disappear as the weather warms so long as your water is balanced (not too acid or alkaline). Alternatively, you can buy products that will clear the water by causing algae to clump and fall to the bottom.

A good inspection and clean-up will get your water feature up and running smoothly for the season. Like anything else, periodic cleaning will make long-term maintenance much easier and will prevent more expensive problems later.

Photo credits: Janes Gates

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