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My pond is mostly clean but should I do a fall cleanout? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My pond is mostly clean but should I do a fall cleanout?

Q: My pond is mostly clean but should I do a fall cleanout?

Melanie – Ludlow, MA

A: Relax! Unless your pond really (and we mean really) needs it, we don’t recommend doing a total fall cleanout. Doing so would stress your fish out and compromise their health. Any amount of cleanliness you’ll achieve is just not worth the risk.

Instead, here’s a four-step to-do list to prepare your pond for fall:

  1. Get Your Plants in Shape: After the first frost, remove dead foliage from you aquatic plants, trim them back and sink them in the bottom of your pond to protect them from the cold temperatures. If you have tropical water lilies or other temperature-sensitive varieties, make room for them inside your garage or another place that will not freeze.
  2. Remove Algae: If you have a stream or waterfall in your pond, remove any algae or debris with CrystalClear® Algae-Off®, which vaporizes string algae, and Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense®, which foams up and lifts debris from surfaces. These oxygen-based products are safe for use around plants and fish.
  3. Clean Up Debris: Using a brush and net, like those included with The Pond Guy® 3-in-1 Pond Tool, scrub down your rocks and liner and net out as much decaying debris as possible. Then use a vacuum, like The Pond Guy® ClearVac™, to suck up whatever’s left. This will minimize the amount of algae-feeding muck decomposing in the pond throughout the winter.
  4. Treat with Beneficial Bacteria: Finally, continue to treat your water garden with muck-munching beneficial bacteria until water temperatures dip to 50° Fahrenheit. Once the water is below 50°F, switch to Seasonal Defense® to continue breaking down any remaining debris. It’s formulated for use during the cooler months.

With these chores completed, your pond will be in good shape going into winter. Until then, relax and enjoy the fall colors and changing season!

Pond Talk: What do you do to prepare your pond for winter?

Make Fall Maintenance Quick and Easy - The Pond Guy(r) ClearVac(tm) Pond Vacuum

Do I need submerged plants in my pond, and how do they help? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Do I need submerged plants in my pond, and how do they help?

Q: Do I need submerged plants in my pond, and how do they help?

Jennifer – McLean, VA

A: Sure, floating and surface plants, like water lilies and hyacinth, add pops of color and beauty to your water garden, but those underwater cultivars deserve some love, too! Just like a rock concert’s or theatrical production’s support crew, subsurface plants play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of your pond.

Here’s just a few things they do:

Supply Oxygen: Underwater plants are called “oxygenators” for a reason. They naturally produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis – and oxygen is one of the best things for your pond’s health and vitality. When submerged plants like the colorful and fast-growing Red Ludwigia are used in combination with a sub-surface aeration system, you’ll wind up with cleaner water that supports your pond’s inhabitants.

Protect Fish from Predators: Sub-surface plants, such as the lush Red Stemmed Parrot’s Feather, also give your fish and other pond critters places to hide when predators stalk or attack. Koi and goldfish will swim into the lush growth and hide out when a raccoon stops by the pond or a blue heron circles overhead. The greenery provides excellent camouflage for your finned friends.

Provide Spawning Areas: The leaves, stems and root systems of underwater plants give your pond life safe places to spawn and lay their eggs. And when those tiny fry hatch, the plants provide protection, food and a comfy place to call home. An excellent choice is the ribbon-like Vallisneria, which can create grassy meadows beneath your pond’s surface.

Submerged plants are easy to add to your water garden or fish pond. Simply fill planting baskets, like the Laguna Planting Baskets, with planting media, add some oxygenators, and place the planted basket on the bottom of your pond or on a plant shelf on the side of your pond. The planting baskets allow the plant’s roots to branch out and find nourishment while containing it and preventing fish from nibbling on its root system.

Don’t neglect your pond’s support staff. Add some plants to your pond today. You’ll be glad you did!

Pond Talk: What is your favorite submerged plant?

Give Your Fish Hiding Places & Oxygen - Submerged Pond Plantst

What is the optimum water temperature for my pond, and when should I worry that it’s too hot? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: What is the optimum water temperature for my pond, and when should I worry that it’s too hot?

Q: What is the optimum water temperature for my pond, and when should I worry that it’s too hot?

Gayle – Syracuse, NY

A: “Room temperature” isn’t just for humans. Fish and pond critters prefer particular underwater temperatures, too. In fact, and a high-temp living environment can even affect their health and well-being. Warm water holds less oxygen than cool water, so they’ll be literally gasping for breath if it gets too hot.

As the air temperature heats up this summer, the water temperature in your pond will increase, too, so it’s critical to keep an eye on it as the mercury rises. Use your Floating Pond Thermometer to test the waters. The best water temperature for your aquatic pals is between 68° and 74° Fahrenheit (pretty close to an ideal air temperature for humans).

If your thermometer tops 85°F, you’ll need to cool your water. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Add Aeration:Make sure you have your aeration system, like the Airmax® PondAir™ or KoiAir™ Aeration System, up and running. It’s like an underwater fan for your koi and goldfish. The moving, bubbling water is cooler and loaded with oxygen, making it easier for your fish to breathe.
  • Add Plants: Just as you seek out shady spots to shield yourself from the sun’s rays, fish will do the same to keep themselves cool. Make sure that about 60 percent of your pond’s surface is covered with floating plants, water lilies and other types of shade cover for your pond pets.
  • Add Water: Warmer temperatures mean increased evaporation rates, so make sure you top off your pond during hot weather. Doing so isn’t a substitute for a water change, but it will cool off the water and ensure your finned friends have enough wet stuff in their pond.

One last tip: Do not feed your fish when water temperatures are above 85°F. They probably won’t be hungry. And besides, the uneaten food will just ruin your water quality.

Pond Talk: What’s the hottest temperature you’ve recorded in your water garden?

Breathe Life Into Your Pond - Airmax(r) PondAir(tm) Aeration Kit

How many plants do I need in my pond, and do I need to fertilize them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How many plants do I need in my pond, and do I need to fertilize them?

Q: How many plants do I need in my pond, and do I need to fertilize them?

Cynthia – Bishop, CA

A: A good mix of aquatic plants does more than beautify your water garden. The marginal, floating and submerged plants, such as those found in our Aquatic Plant Packages, also absorb excess nutrients in the water and shade the pond’s surface, which can help prevent algae attacks and protect your finned friends from hungry herons and raccoons.

When planting aquatic plants in and around your pond, you should ideally have 40 to 60 percent of your water garden’s surface covered with floating aquatic plants, like hardy water lilies, water hyacinth and water lettuce. This allows for enough nutrient absorption and shading to prevent algae from gaining a foothold in your pond.

Just like the plants in your vegetable garden, those lilies and bog plants need some nutrients added to their soil to thrive. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Spikes: Fertilizer spikes, like Laguna Plant Grow Fertilizer Spikes, slowly release plant food, which makes them super easy to use. The balanced nutrients in the spikes encourage both foliage and root growth and flower production, while the low phosphorous and no copper formula ensure no adverse effects on water quality or fish and plant life. You simply push the spike into the soil (one for every 1 to 2 gallons of planting container space) and forget about it until next year.
  • Tabs: Tabs, like TetraPond® LilyGro™ Aquatic Plant Food, are formulated for use during your aquatic plants’ growing season. As with the spikes, the nutrients in the fertilizer encourage greenery and bloom production, but the tabs need to be added to the soil monthly for best results. Using one tablet per gallon of potted soil, push it deep into the soil 3 inches from the crown of the plant and pack the hole with dirt to prevent the fertilizer from being released into the water.

During the growing season, plan to fertilize your water lilies and marginal plants once per month. Floating and submerged plants should have plenty of nutrients in the water to feed them. Enjoy your blooms!

Pond Talk: What is your favorite aquatic plant?

Add Living Color To Your Pond - Aquatic Plant Packages

I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it?

Q: I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it?

Cheryl – Charlotte, NC

A: Congratulations! You’ve just waded into a relaxing and exciting hobby that will give you joy for years to come—as long as take proper care of it. Here’s a quick rundown of what we recommend to new pond hobbyists.

1. Keep It Clean

First and foremost, it’s critical to keep your water column clean and your pond’s rocks and surfaces free from muck and debris. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a smelly, algae-filled hole in the ground, and who wants that—particularly if you plan on hosting backyard barbeques this summer!

We suggest you use the Pond Logic® DefensePAC®, an easy-to-use combo pack that includes Oxy-Lift™ Defense®, Nature’s Defense®, Clarity Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense®. These products work together to remove excess debris and promote a healthy ecosystem for your fish and plants all year long.

2. Beautify It

If you’re like many water garden hobbyists, you’ll soon be adding aquatic plants to you pond (if you haven’t already!). Water lilies, water hyacinth, irises and a host of other floating, submerged and marginal plants can do wonders to spruce up a backyard, adding pops of color and interest to your outdoor living space.

But that’s not all. Aquatic plants, like those found in our Aquatic Plant Packages, also naturally filter the water in your pond by removing harmful pollutants and gases, releasing oxygen and being a breeding ground for muck-destroying beneficial bacteria. Plus, your fish will use the plants as an underwater playground!

3. Add Some Finned Friends

Speaking of which, you may also wish to add koi, goldfish and other aquatic critters, like snails and turtles, to your pond. They’re fun to watch and care for, they add life and movement to your water garden, and they add another dimension to your new hobby. (If you haven’t been to a koi show yet, plan on it!)

A word of warning: Remember that fish grow, so don’t maximize your fish load from the get go. A booming population of goldfish, koi or other pond fish means an overload of fish waste, which can cause problems down the road. In general, we recommend one 6- to 8-inch fish per 10 square feet of surface area.

4. Beef Up Your Filter Media

Finally, let’s talk filter media. Where is it? Do you have enough of it? Filter media typically lives in your filter box, and its purpose is to mechanically remove large debris from your water as it flows through the filter, as well as provide a home for gunk-gobbling beneficial bacteria.

When it comes to filter media, more is definitely better. You can easily beef it up by adding BioBalls™ Filter Media to your waterfall box or some extra Matala® Filter Media Pads to your filter.

Enjoy your new hobby!

Pond Talk: What was your first water garden like? What changes have you made to it since then?

Season Long Pond Care Package - Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

My pond was clean but now it’s starting to turn green. What should I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My pond was clean but now it’s starting to turn green. What should I do?

Q: My pond was clean but now it’s starting to turn green. What should I do?

Cynthia – Richmond Hill, GA

A: First of all, don’t panic! Let’s begin by taking a look at the three main causes of green water: too many fish, inadequate filtration and not enough plant coverage.

Control Your Fish Population

A booming population of goldfish, koi or other pond fish means an overload of fish waste, and all those excess nutrients actually feed the algae that’s turning your water green. To keep that waste in check, we recommend one 6- to 8-inch fish per 10 square feet of surface area. If you have too many finned friends, consider giving some away.

Provide Adequate Filtration

If your fish are family members and you’re not quite ready to bid them adieu, you’ll need to pump up your filtration with an AllClear™ PLUS filter. Adequate mechanical, biological and ultraviolet filtration will remove the excess waste from the water and help control the prolific green stuff.

Shade the Water

Algae are plants, and plants need sunlight to grow. A third way to control algae is to shade the water with plants like water lilies and water hyacinth. We recommend that you shade 40 to 60 percent of your pond for best results. The plants also provide all-natural biological filtration and make your water garden look great. Not sure what kinds of plants to get? Start with our Aquatic Plant Package, which includes a great selection of cultivars for your pond size.

Give It Time …

Most importantly, try to practice some patience. If you’ve just done a major cleanout, your biological filtration may need some more time to get established and working. Give it a kick-start with some beneficial bacteria like Nature’s Defense®. The microorganisms will get to work digesting those dead organics.

If you control your fish population, adequately filter and shade your water, and boost your biological filtration by adding bacteria, your pond will be clear again before long—and you can stop singing those green-water blues.

Pond Talk: If you’ve had to give away some of your fish, how do you find new homes for them?

Three Types Of Filtration, One Powerful Unit - The Pond Guy® AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized Filter

My lilies are growing outside the pots! How do I divide my water lilies? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My lilies are growing outside the pots! How do I divide my water lilies?

Q: My lilies are growing outside the pots! How do I divide my water lilies?

Susan – Centreville, MI

A: Lackluster growth or blooms on your water lilies last season is and indication that it’s time to divide them. Early spring is the best time to divide your water lilies but most varieties of hardy water lilies can be divided anytime during the growing season.

For easiest access, you may want to divide your water lilies during your spring cleanout. Hardy water lilies should be divided every 2-3 years to ensure your lilies are producing beautiful blooms season after season. Dividing lilies may seem complicated, but our step-by-step process will explain exactly what you need to do.

Step 1: Remove lilies from pond or container. Carefully move the plant to a workspace and remove from its container. You may need to cut open the basket depending on how root bound your lily is.

Step 2: Rinse off any old soil and remove roots that are not attached to the plant. Split the crown of the plant with a sharp knife to cut through the creamy white rhizome, saving the youngest parts of the clump, typically around the outside edge, for repotting.

Step 3: Cut the tuber down to size. You can safely cut the tuber down between two to three inches on the growing part with a sharp knife. This can be increased to five to six inches on longer plants. Remember to also cut off new buds and older leaves, so that the new root system has a chance to grow.

Step 4: Use Plant Bags or Plant Baskets to replant your water lilies. Plant each tuber with the growing tip facing outward. Fill in around the tuber with aquatic planting media, such as Microbe-Lift®, making sure the roots are spread well and the crown is sitting just below the soil surface.

Step 5: If using a plant basket, place in shallow area of pond to encourage faster growth.

Step 6: Once new leaves have reached the surface, lilies can be moved deeper into the pond.

Don’t forget to fertilize your water lilies monthly during the growing season to keep your plants healthy and gorgeous. Remove spent blooms and old leaves to encourage new growth.

Pond Talk: How often do you divide your water lilies and other aquatic plants?

Flexible Pond Planters For All Your Plant Needs - The Pond Guy® Plant Bags

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