Spring Pond Maintenance

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The snow is melting, the birds are chirping, and the sun that you've been missing has finally decided to show its face. In order to keep your pond functioning properly, you may want to give your pond a fresh start by giving it a spring clean-out.

Spring algae blooms occur because of excess nutrients and deficient amounts of beneficial bacteria. In a clean-out, the stale pond water is replaced with fresh, clean water that is ready for bacterial colonization. Spring clean-outs replenish the water in a pond and allow it to begin a fresh, new season. Since a balanced ecosystem keeps the pond healthy the rest of the year, an annual clean-out gets it off to the right start.

Ideally, you would start your spring clean-out early in the spring before the water temperature creeps up above 50°F. At this temperature, your pond hasn't begun it's annual balance, and the fish are not as active so the clean-out won't be so stressful to them.

Every pond is different, and some ponds do not require an annual clean-out. Spring clean-outs are recommended annually for most Northern ponds because of the debris that can build up over the winter. If your pond is larger than 2,000 square feet, it might only need a clean-out every few years. And larger ponds may never need a complete clean-out because any impurities present are minimal compared to the volume of water in the pond. The larger the pond, the easier it is to maintain (just like a fish tank).

The best way to tell whether your pond needs to be cleaned out? If the water looks the same in the early spring as it did the previous summer, it's probably okay to skip the clean-out.

Now it's time to roll up your sleeves, put your waders on, and get ready to clean out your pond!

Spring pond clean-outs

Checklist of Materials for Your Pond Clean-out

If you're planning to get your hands dirty with a spring clean-out, here is a list of materials that may be helpful when you're in the trenches. Being prepared ahead of time will prevent the need to run to the store in the middle of your clean-out project. Here's a handy list of things you may need before strapping on you hip boots and wading in:

  • Kiddie pool (or similar, large container to hold fish and frogs)
  • Net to cover fish container to prevent them from jumping out
  • Fish net to catch the fish before the clean-out
  • Lily tabs - might as well fertilize those lilies while you're in there!
  • Two-five gallon buckets for collecting leaves and debris
  • Wading boots or old clothes you don't mind getting dirty
  • Rubber gloves
  • 25 feet of 1.5 to 2-inch discharge piping
  • A high-pressure nozzle for your garden hose or a power washer
  • Garden shears for trimming plants
  • Bacteria
  • Dechlorinator if you're filling your pond with city water
  • Extra rocks/pebbles to cover exposed liner
  • Expanding foam to fill in any necessarily spots
  • New filter mats, if needed

Now that you know why you should do a clean-out, your next step is to learn how to do a clean-out. Now don't worry - it's really not as complicated - just a little dirty. If you follow a few easy steps, your clean-out can be done quickly and easily. Check out these easy-to-follow steps.

10 Steps to a Successful Spring Clean-out

  1. Start Draining the Pond - We rent out a professional Clean-out Pump for those who are tackling their own clean-outs. Call us at (253) 863-3499 for rates and availability. Be sure you use some of the pond water to fill a container with pond water for the fish. 
  2. Disconnect the Circulation System - This will allow the water in the plumbing to drain out.
  3. Catch the Fish - Drain the pond down to the lowest shelf in order to catch fish easily and safely.
  4. Remove Debris - Once the pond is drained, remove the large debris like leaves and twigs.
  5. Wash the Pond - A 1,500 psi pressure washer or a high-pressure nozzle on a garden hose is recommended for pond cleaning.
  6. Rinse the Pond - Rinse the pond from top to bottom with a garden hose without the high-pressure nozzle. This will help wash any remaining pond debris from under the rocks. As the dirty water accumulates on the bottom, continuing to pump it out.
  7. Clean the Filters - Spray the filtration media until relatively clean and rinse down the inside of the filter units.
  8. Refill the Pond - Pull the clean-out pump out and begin re-filling the pond.
  9. De-chlorinate the Water - Most city water contains chlorine and chloramines and should be treated with a de-chlorinator before fish are introduced.
  10. Acclimate the Fish - A spring clean-out can be stressful to fish, so proper acclimation is suggested to decrease stress and avoid future health problems. In order to properly acclimate your fish, you'll want to slowly introduce it to the water by floating them in the pond fish and adding pond water little by little before letting them in.

Now your pond is officially ready for spring!