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I just have a small yard but I’d like to incorporate a water feature, any ideas? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I just have a small yard but I’d like to incorporate a water feature, any ideas?

Q: I just have a small yard but I’d like to incorporate a water feature, any ideas?
Crystal – Odell, NE

One of the many great things about pondkeeping is that it’s a scalable pastime. Whether you live on a postage stamp or a plantation, it’s possible to create a perfect pond that’s the perfect fit.

For small yards – and people who just want to get their feet wet (pun completely intended) – container water gardens offer all the satisfaction of pondkeeping, without the need for a backhoe, or even much of a backyard. Container water gardens are pretty much just like they sound: small, self-contained pools that are tailor-made for a few select Aquatic Plants, and even a choice selection of your favorite fish. These stand-alone gardens are ideal for decks, patios, gardens, and anywhere else you’d like to add a water feature around your home.

Starting your own adventure into container water gardening is simple. As a first step, we strongly recommend reading through one or more of our Container Water Garden Books. Both Container Water Gardening for Hobbyists and Water Gardening in Containers provide a world of useful information that can help you get started – while sidestepping common mistakes.

After you’re sufficiently up to speed, it’s time to gear up. Start with the right container for the water garden space you’ve identified. Next, you’ll need to shop for the perfect Plants, some choice Plant Media and a Plant Basket or two to hold them. If fish are in your water garden’s future, you’ll also want to consider a Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System to keep your aquatic environment safe and healthy for habitation. Finally, as the perfect finishing touch, you’ll also want to consider our Pond Guy Halogen Lights, with colored lens options that make your water garden a nighttime spectacle to remember.

Pond Talk: What types of water features have you included in your yard?

Container Water Gardening for Hobbyists Book

I like the idea of a pond but will it also bring more mosquitos? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I like the idea of a pond but will it also bring more mosquitos?

I like the idea of a pond but will it also bring more mosquitos?
Crystal – Baton Rouge, LA

If pondkeeping were a recipe for multiplying mosquitoes, it would be tough to justify having a pond at all. Fortunately, the same things that make a pond attractive to you make it an unwelcome spot for mosquitoes looking to settle down and start a family.

Mosquitoes, it seems, like prefer to lay their larva in stagnant water. As it turns out, ponds are much healthier and more attractive when they’re well aerated. The benefits of aeration are twofold. First, aeration helps gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter to dissipate naturally – which in turn eliminates the potential for unpleasant pond odor. Second – and very importantly – a well-aerated pond is a lousy place for mosquito larvae. That’s why so many of our customers turn to our PondLogic® PondAir™ and KoiAir™ Aeration Systems.

For pondkeepers who prefer a more dramatic display of mosquito-beating aeration, we recommend our All In One Filter Systems. In addition to the oxygenating benefits of aeration, these pumps double as fountains, sending up a spray of water to keep you entertained – while keeping mosquitoes at bay.

Under some circumstances, aeration isn’t a viable alternative. In those cases, our Mosquito Bits and Mosquito Dunks offer a safe, EPA-approved means to kill mosquito larva for up to 30 days.

So don’t let the threat of mosquitoes stand between you and your pond. Give them the fight of their lives – and we’ll do everything we can to make sure you come out ahead.

Pond Talk: Have you battled mosquitoes around your pond? How did you keep them away?

Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Systems

Should I eradicate all algae from my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Should I eradicate all algae from my pond?

Should I eradicate all algae from my pond?
Suzanne – Arlington, VA

In a word, the simple answer to this question is no. Algae serves a vital role in the health of your pond, providing both natural filtration and food for fish and wildlife. Algae also looks aesthetically pleasing in a pond, provided there’s not too much of it.

To better understand algae’s place in your pond, it’s important to know the different types that are common. First, there’s filamentous algae. Often referred to as “pond scum,” growth of filamentous algae typically begins on the pond bottom. As it grows, it rises to the surface, and can quickly spread to cover the entire pond if not controlled.

String algae is the second variety of algae pond owners will invariably come to know. Essentially a variation on filamentous algae, this algae isn’t harmful, but its rapid growth can quickly take over the pond if it’s not controlled. Frequently seen on rocks in waterfalls, string algae has been known to double its mass in 24 hours when conditions are right – leaving little room for beneficial algae growth, and inhibiting the growth of beneficial bacteria and plants.

Where filamentous alga are generally unwelcome in most ponds, planktonic algae is its beneficial counterpart. Planktonic algae generally thrives within the first few feet from the surface, where it relies on light for photosynthesis – and produces food for microscopic pond dwellers and newly-hatched fry. While typically desirable in ponds, planktonic algae can bloom, and some forms can be toxic to animals. In those circumstances, special measures may be necessary to control its growth.

In order to maintain a healthy balance of algae growth in your pond, there are a few simple steps that go a long way. First, consider our PondLogic® KoiAir™ and PondAir™a Water Garden Aeration Systems to ensure sufficient aeration. Stagnant water is an open invitation for excessive algae growth. Even if you have a waterfall, consider adding one to increase water circulation. For more aggressive algae treatment, our an algaecide such as AlgaeFix to kill the algae and then follow up with the Pond Logic® DefensePAC. And as a precautionary measure, consider adding a selection of Aquatic Plants to help maintain your pond’s equilibrium, to reduce excessive algae-promoting sunlight, and to provide safe havens for fish.

Pond Talk: What type of algae do you battle most?

Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?
Tara – Bon Temps, LA

Lava rock was a common form of biological filtration media in waterfall boxes as its porous surface provides room for bacteria to reside. While it was popular years ago, pond supply companies have since produced better forms of secondary biological filtration media that are friendlier for both you and the pond itself.

Using lava rock as a source of filtration media has a list of distinctive drawbacks. The first of which is that it can prove to be extremely heavy and cumbersome. It is not exactly easy to lift a bag of rocks out of your pond, especially when it is full of water and debris.
While lava rock is porous and can initially provide a reasonable amount of additional surface area, the coarseness and small opening sizes tend to hold on to passing-by debris, blocking the waterways which greatly diminishes the stone’s performance. Once lava rock is loaded with debris you will have to remove it form your filter box and replace it with new media as it is near impossible to remove the debris from within each rock. For some pond owners this means they would need to replace their lava rock media multiple times each season for optimal performance. Furthermore lava rock tends to be brittle and can leave behind additional dust and debris in your pond.

Biological filtration media like Pond Logic® BioBalls™ filter media provides all of the surface area that your beneficial bacteria desire but implement it into a light-weight cost-effective design. One of the best qualities of secondary filtration media like the BioBalls™ is that you only have to buy them once. Pond Logic® BioBalls™ do not degrade over time and can simply be rinsed out at the end of the season and reused the next. BioBalls™ can placed into a mesh media bag and can be placed right into your waterfall filter box.

Pond Talk: Have you used lava rock as filter media in the past and switched to bio balls or another form of media? Did you notice a difference in filtration performance?

Pond Logic® BioBalls™

Are there any unique plants I can add to my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Are there any unique plants I can add to my pond?

Are there any unique plants I can add to my pond?

Brad – Phoenix, AZ

Pond owners looking to flex their green thumbs this spring are already planning their aquatic plant purchases. Including plants in your water garden or decorative water feature can help add shade and filtration to the water body while painting the landscape with beautiful colors and accents.

The Ann Chowning Iris is an excellent selection for ponds that are exposed to constant sunlight. The Ann Chowning has intense red flowers with deep yellow accents. The flowers have a velvety texture and the iris produces beautiful evergreen foliage growing to a height of 36” and a width of 18-24”. Blooming in the spring and into summer, the Ann Chowning iris prefers full sun but will tolerate some late hour shade. The brilliant contrasting colors make this iris a great cut flower that can be used in centerpieces and indoor decoration. For pond owners in more remote locations the Ann Chowning is a great choice as it is resistant to deer which love to frequent ponds for a quick snack and drink.

As with other aquatic plants the Ann Chowning can be planted in media baskets with planting media and placed in and around your pond or water feature. As the Ann Chowning prefers moist, well drained soil you will want to keep this iris contained to the shallow regions and edges of your pond. Be sure to fertilize your plants with pond-safe plant fertilizer to achieve even brighter and bolder colors.

Pond Talk: What unique plants have you incorporated into your pond?

Ann Chowning Iris

What do I do to clean out my water garden now that the snow melted? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What do I do to clean out my water garden now that the snow melted?

What do I do to clean out my water garden now that the snow melted?
Brett – Delta, IA

Spring is the perfect time to perform a clean out on your water garden or decorative water feature and remove accumulated growth and debris from the winter months. Not only does this result in a cleaner better looking pond, it also promotes a smoother transition into the warm summer months where a unbalanced pond can easily be overrun with green water and string algae.

Once the ice melts from the surface of your pond you can begin your cleaning regimen. Start by pulling out as much muck and debris as possible. You can use a Interchangeable Pond Tool to safely remove your decorative pond fish and sweep debris away from the sides of the pond. Pond Vacuums are a great way to siphon muck and debris from hard to reach areas of your pond without the hassle of bending and scrubbing. Sprinkle Oxy-Lift Defense™ on your waterfall rocks and stream bed to lift stuck on debris without having to scrape at your rocks and liner.

After the majority of debris are cleaned from the pond you can perform a partial water change by removing around 20% of the ponds volume and replacing it with fresh water. Not only does this refresh the pond water, removing water from the pond with a pump or bucket will also eliminate some of the floating debris you kicked up during the cleaning process. While the pond is refilling mix in some Water Conditioner to remove the harmful metals and chloramines found in well and tap water.

Remove your Filter Media Pads from your waterfall filter, skimmer and pressurized filters. Inspect them for signs of wear and tear and replace accordingly. Thoroughly rinse your filtration media to remove built up debris. Apply PL-Gel to your new or cleaned filter media to seed them with beneficial bacteria and place them back into position.

Now that the pond is cleaned up and topped off you can start up your pumps and begin circulating the contents of the pond. Inspect the pumps, plumbing and power cords for signs of wear, cuts or leakage. Check your waterfall and streams for out of place rocks, splash-outs, and misdirected water. Black Waterfall Foam can be used to keep rocks firmly in place and route water where you want it. Inspect your pond liner for leaks and check the perimeter of your pond for damp areas or puddles.

If the water is still below 55 degrees apply your Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® to balance the pond water and introduce beneficial bacteria to the water column. If the water warmer than 55 degrees you can apply your Nature’s Defense® instead. The Pond Logic® DefensePAC® bundles the water treatment and maintenance products you will need for the season while providing a price break compared to purchasing products individually.

Let the pond water circulate for a couple days before re-introducing your decorative pond fish back into the pond. This will give the pond water some time to balance without putting unnecessary stress on your fish. Add some Stress Reducer Plus to the water before you start acclimating your decorative pond fish back into the pond as it will help supplement their slime coat and reduce exposure to stress and harmful residual water contaminates.

While it requires a little elbow grease up front, a thorough spring clean out will save you time, money and hassles later in the season so you can spend more time enjoying your pond while the weather is nice.

Pond Talk:What are you tips for getting your water garden ready for the season?

DefensePAC®

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back?
Kathie – St. Cloud, MN

It is about time to get your pond up and running for the season. Your decorative pond fish may be even more excited than you are if they’ve been stuck inside for the winter. Before you re-introduce them to their pond you will want to give it thorough once-over to make sure the pond is healthy, clean and ready for spring.

You may choose to perform a complete pond cleanout and start from scratch, or if you prefer you can leave the pond in tack and just do some minor preparations. If this is the case, start by removing debris and algae from the water column, stream, rocks and pond bottom. Dusting Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® on your rocks and waterfall will lift hard to remove debris and save you the time and energy of having to scrub them clean. You can don a pair of Aquatic Gloves or use a Pond Vaccum and go to work removing the muck and debris that have sunk to the bottom of your pond.

Once you have removed as much solid debris as possible you can perform a partial water change of around 25%. Include a dose of Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus or Water Conditioner to neutralize harmful water contaminates. Inspect your filter media for signs of wear and tear and replace as necessary. Thoroughly rinse off soiled filters and seed them with PL Gel Bacteria so they are ready to work as soon as you reinstall them in your filters. If you brought your Pressurized Filters, UV Clarifiers and Water Pumps inside for the winter you begin to bring them out and install them now. With your pond cleaned out and filtration system in place you are ready to fire up your pumps and circulate the water in your pond. Add your seasonal cool-weather bacteria like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense to further establish beneficial bacteria in your filtration media and pond.
Let the pond circulate over the course of a few weeks if possible before adding your fish. This will ensure your fish don’t suffer from peaks in pH or ammonia while your water finds a happy balance. Ideally temperatures over 50 degrees are more easily adaptable for your fish but be sure you acclimate them to the pond slowly following the same process you would to introduce a few fish. Using Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus will aid in this process.

A good spring clean out will set the pace for your ponding season and prevent future headaches and stressed fish. Be patient and thorough using the proper tools so you can make your pond even more enjoyable this coming season.

Pond Talk: Have you performed your spring clean up yet? Any new ideas for your pond this season?

Pond Logic Stress Reducer Plus

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?
Jessica – Jackson, MI

Pond owners are intrigued by the prospect of being able to ditch chemical treatments for a natural means of algae control. While it is true that barley straw is capable of helping your pond fend off algae it still comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Studies have shown that as barley straw decomposes it releases agents that inhibit algae growth with no adverse effects on your water garden plants or decorative pond fish. Originally customers would place bales of Barley Straw in their waterfall filter boxes, skimmers or waterfall areas where they would decompose over time. As barley straw treatments continue to grow in popularity new types of barley products have been made available. Barley Straw Pellets are available for a cleaner and easier way to implement barley treatments into your pond or for even faster results, Barley Straw Extract. Barley Straw Extract is basically barley straw already broken down into its beneficial byproducts.

While barley straw can help keep your pond less green this season it is not 100% effective on all algae that may form in your pond. One of the biggest issues with using barley straw and pellets is that you have to put them in your pond early in the season as they will need time to start decomposing before providing any benefits. Some may also argue that you are also adding muck and nutrients to your pond in the process. You will gain some speed by using barley straw extract but it then becomes less convenient because you will have to continuously add it to the pond. Barley also does not directly kill algae so chemical treatments may still eventually be required.

Your best defense against algae has always been a good offense. Keeping your pond clean and balanced with adequate filtration, bacteria treatments, minimal fish loads and sun exposure you will reduce your dependence and need for algae treatments in general. It is when your pond is balanced and just needs a little extra kick to keep algae at bay that your barley treatments really begin to shine as their gradual release of anti-algae agents will help maintain clear water throughout the season with minimal or no additional chemical treatment.

Pond Talk: Do you use barley straw as a part of your pond maintenance? Have you noticed a cleaner pond while using barley straw?

All the benefits of barley straw without the mess!

Can my snails stay in my pond for the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

Can my snails stay in my pond for the winter?
Cody – Falling Spring, VA

While your fish and some of your aquatic plants remain safe and sound during their winter dormancy you may wonder if your snails will be as successful. Your pond snails are amazingly resilient in cold weather and will do just fine given their habitat is suitable.

Your pond depth will play a major role in the success of all of the living creatures in your pond. Your plants, fish and snails can survive in cold water but they won’t fair too well if frozen into a solid block of ice. The ice that forms on the top of your pond varies in thickness depending on where you live but the general rule of thumb is to build your pond to be around 20”-30” in depth. This ensures there is an ample layer of water at the bottom of the pond that is left unexposed to the elements which will provide a safe haven for all of your pets and plants.

You won’t have to worry too much about your snails finding a safe place to hide over the winter as they come equipped with a strong shell which provides adequate shelter. They can hide amongst the rocks and plant remains in the pond as well during the winter but as your fish are in dormancy there is not an overwhelming need for additional habitat. As water temperatures drop and bacteria begin to dwindle a lot of pond owners tend to rely on algaecides to keep their ponds free from algae. If you are using an algaecide in your water garden review the product label thoroughly to ensure it is safe to use with your snails. When your pond comes back to life in the spring your snails will flourish amongst the new plant growth.

Pond Talk: Do you do anything special to provide safety for your snails in the winter?

How do pine needles affect my water garden? I’ve heard everything from poor water quality to no change at all. – Decorative Water Gardens Q & A

How do pine needles affect my water garden? I’ve heard everything from poor water quality to no change at all.

How do pine needles affect my water garden? I’ve heard everything from poor water quality to no change at all.
Betsy – Hinesburg, VT

Your evergreens may hold on to their color during the winter but they will have no trouble shedding a few pine needles. If your pond is pine tree adjacent you most likely have been dealing with the presence of pine needles in your water. Your pine trees can provide an excellent source of shade and privacy but do the negative effects of loose pine needles put your pond or fish in harms way?

As you already know, an abundance of organic debris in your pond can lead to algae blooms, turbid water and unbalanced water chemistry. Organic matter like grass clippings or leaves from nearby trees will eventually turn into an intimidating layer of muck if left at the bottom of your pond. Unlike leaves pine needles are not a huge contributor of tea colored water however, pine needles are acidic and can lower the pH of your pond water to an unhealthy level if left to accumulate. Because of their size, shape and density pine needles are a bit trickier to catch and clean out of your pond. They can easily fall through netting with larger openings and they tend to clog up pond vacuum hoses. To better protect your pond from fallen pond needles use Pond Nettinghttp://www.thepondguy.com/category/water-gardens-and-features-pond-netting with smaller mesh holes. As pine needles tend to float for a while make sure your Skimmer is active and running to help catch as much debris as possible. Your skimmer may require more frequent cleaning to prevent loss of water flow. Any needles that venture to the bottom of the pond can be rounded up with a Skimmer Net and your Pond Vac or you can don a pair of Aquatic Gloves and scoop up any large deposits that form. While pine needles decompose a bit slower than leaves beneficial bacteria products like Seasonal Defense will help break them down and remove any strays you might have missed.

To be fair to all of the evergreens out there, pine needles are not any more harmful than leaves; they just come with their own unique set of challenges. At the end of the day you treat them just like you would any other form of unwanted excess organic material. Keep your pond clean and it will keep you happy, whether you have pine trees, oak trees or no trees at all!

Pond Talk: What kinds of trees do you have around your pond? What methods have you found to be effective against debris from leaves and needles.

Keep your water garden healthy all winter long!

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