Tips for your Pond
The winter is a nice time to take a break from the yard. The cozy warmth of the inside, holiday gift exchange—before you know it, you’re into the new year! But as time passes and you spend a series of afternoons staring out the window, the weather warms a bit and your yard—particularly your pond—is beckoning you to rejoin it. Indeed, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Perhaps before we get into discussing a few suggestions, you’re considering those weeks you spent looking at your landscape through the window, eager for the calendar to change so you could get outside and implement some changes of your own. The rains have matted down the mulch, the weeds have sprouted, and that’s the obvious stuff.
The sun creeps over the horizon bringing with it a golden hue that gently moves over the shade of your trees and bathes the landscape with sunlight, warming the pond. The fish are stirring and so you feed them those morsels of food. The entire area is filled with the unmistakable sound of a powerful waterfall. After countless hours scrutinizing every detail, moving plants around and tearing others out, pulling the weeds the weed block fabric couldn’t cover…and the landscape design looks great. You put a lot of thought into how you wanted it to look, and whether you worked with Jefferson Landscape and Design or someone else, you are happy.
Sanctuary or Garden Art
Perhaps you would like to add something to your pond, personalize it and make it your own. You would like to dress up your pond a bit, maybe something on the inside, but the outside as well. As with all art, what you choose will vary according to your taste and the style of your garden. Take the time to look for a style or type of garden art that you feel would fit your landscape. For new ideas visit your local garden center (we like Connie’s Pond and Koi in Castro Valley), attend a home and garden show, search the web, or consult with your gardener.
Having a great stone around your water feature can really enhance it, but like anything else, you get what you pay for. Accent stones should be chosen for a variety of qualities such as size, shape and weathered appearance. The majority of stone that is sold or quarried, meaning it has been blasted out of bedrock or dug out of underground deposits. This type of stone has beautiful color and meets the requirements needed for a pond, except for one—it’s not weathered. Because quarried stone has not been exposed to years of wind and rain, it lacks the weathered look the way moss and lichen growth or softened edges and fissures do.
The best time to place an accent stone in the pond is when the water is drained for its annual or semi-annual spring-cleaning. Simply remove the existing rock from the pond edge and replace it with the new stone or stones (be careful of the liner) and take the time and place it properly. Consider using the art of triangulation. We use the art of triangulation when selecting plant types, leaf colors and/or flower colors whether it’s for a pond or the landscaping. For example, when selecting plants for the pond surround or your landscape, simply take three of the same plants, such as a maroon-leaved plant such as a Loropetalum, and plant them around your pond or yard in the form of a triangle. For the pond, plant one on one side, another across the pond a little further in one direction or another, then a third closer to the front or back of the bog area outside your pond. This is often done with trees, plants or groundcover of the same variety—or that bloom the same colors—orange looks great! Choose warm colors, they make a difference!
Just like any other outdoor landscaping, ponds take a little maintenance here and there, albeit much less than a lawn would (they use a lot less water too!). If you’ve already had your pond cleaned out by a professional, great! If not, perhaps you’d like to do the messy job yourself. Either way, what follows will help you care for your Ponds’ Ecosystem and better direct your Pond’s Nitrogen Cycle and control for Ammonia Nitrates. There are many pond products you can buy, depending on the type of ‘pond hobbyist’ you are, to keep your pond healthy, manage debris and provide you with more water clarity (which if you’ve been adding your beneficial aerobic bacteria shouldn’t be a problem…but we all get busy). The one you’re likely to need if your pond is located in the sun is something for any string algae blooms which may have developed during the past summer (though it’s always easier to deal with it as it occurs). The goal is to make sure your pond has what it needs to thrive and keep your fish healthy.
If you’ve allowed for a biological build-up, we recommend a spring clean out. This will benefit your pond and its wildlife greatly. While relaxing by a tranquil pond, listening to the trickle of water and coveting the reflections of lilies are a busy person’s dream, cleaning, fixing, treating, and laboring to keep a pond beautiful is a nightmare. Remember that the secret to a relatively maintenance-free pond is in developing a healthy, balanced ecosystem that virtually takes care of itself. Keep it free of dead plant life and leaves—your skimmer will do this for you but you have to empty it regularly. And keep adding your aerobic bacteria every week. Do this and you won’t need as many clean outs!
· Remove your fish and put them into a temporary side pool
· Drain the pond
· Cut back nitrogen levels by removing any dead plant debris
· Rinse boulders and gravel
· Empty the debris basket in your skimmer and rinse it
· Rinse all of your bio-media pads
· Remove as much algae and fish emulsion as possible
· Re-fill and re-drain the pond
· Check status of your underwater lights/replace any necessary bulbs/lights
· Add or replace aquatic plants
· Fill the pond
· Check the pump for proper flow
· Check and adjust auto-fill valve (if applicable)
· Add liquid aerobic bacteria (then the dry kind weekly thereafter). This is what breaks down your fish waste and is VERY important—nature’s way is the best way!
· Control algae by adding an eco-friendly algaecide
· Add pond salt (helps with nitrites, nitrates, gives fish a healthy coat to prevent parasites
· Test PH level (7.0-7.2), add PH minus if high, PH plus if low
· Remove chloramines by using an anti-chloramine product. This is important. There are chloramines in the city water