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I empty my skimmer every day. Is there a better way to keep leaves out of my pond? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

I empty my skimmer every day. Is there a better way to keep leaves out of my pond?

I empty my skimmer every day. Is there a better way to keep leaves out of my pond?
Joseph – San Francisco, CA

Leaves are notoriously difficult to train. Try as you might, they simply fall wherever they please. And when their drop zone of choice is your pond, the task of cleaning them out quickly loses its novelty. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to keep even the most determined leaves out – and cleaning your skimmer on a regular basis is just the beginning.

For those who experience limited leaf drop in their pond, a skimmer may do the lion’s share of the work by gathering up the majority of floating leaves and debris. For any surplus, and for leaves and debris that sink to the bottom of the pond, hand nets and vacuums may be sufficient to keep your water clean and clear.

But not everyone enjoys the satisfying sense of accomplishment that comes with manual leaf removal. If you’re one of those who don’t, we strongly recommend the use of pond netting to stop leaves before they reach the water. At The Pond Guy, you’ll find plenty of options. For economical, single-season purposes, try our Dewitt Economy Pond Netting. For a more durable option that stops leaves and debris, keeps predators at bay and allows abundant light penetration, consider our Clear Fine Mesh Pond Netting. For durable protection that will provide years of use, the nylon mesh construction of our Premium Pond Netting is an exceptional value.

For the ultimate in pond protection, though, our Nycon Big Top Pond Cover is a natural choice. Designed to prevent penetration by even the smallest debris – while keeping predators out – this durable cover forms a tent over your pond, and will provide years of seasonal service.

However you choose to preserve your pond’s pristine appearance, timing is of the essence. As soon as leaves start to fall, it’s time to take action. And whether you’re skimming, cleaning or covering, we have everything you need to make the job a breeze.

Pond Talk: Do you use netting over your pond?

Premium Pond Netting

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Frank – Queens, NY

Just as variety spices up life, interesting shapes give a boost to the appeal of any backyard water garden. Because the kidney shape curves conveniently to form a perfect vantage point – where the entire pond is visible – it’s especially popular. It’s also a simple feature to install, starting with our custom cut Firestone 45 Mil Pond Liner. Using this 45 mil EDPM liner and some careful preparation, you can have your own custom-shaped water feature up and running in no time.

During your planning and preparation, you’ll want to consider the kidney shape, which allows much more than a convenient point to view your water garden. It also adds a touch of style without sacrificing function – while keeping the pond healthy by ensuring a generalized flow of moving water. That flow, of course, is best achieved by the use of pumps, skimmers and filters, which draw water from one end of the water feature to the other.

For maximum circulation – an immediate boost of visual interest – we strongly recommend the installation of a waterfall at one end of your water feature, with a skimmer and pump at the other. With the use of our Atlantic Pro Waterfall Filter Falls Box, your waterfall with double as an efficient filter designed to establish and maintain a balanced ecosystem for both fish and plants alike.

Pond Talk: What shape is your water garden?

Waterfall Filter Box

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®

If I chose to bring my fish indoors for the winter what should I do? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

If I chose to bring my fish indoors for the winter what should I do?
Lisa – Livonia, MI

While we don’t really like to think about it, there are places in the U.S. that get cold enough to freeze decorative water gardens solid. As your fish do not appreciate being turned into popsicles you will probably want to bring them indoors for the winter. Since the majority of you don’t have a beautiful indoor pond just waiting to house our fish in the colder months how do you go about creating a safe environment for your fish to bunker down in?

Your first and foremost priority is to select a location that is climate controlled, safe from disturbances and large enough to facilitate a holding tank. Your basement or heated garage are a couple places you can consider. The container you choose to hold your fish should be made of a fish safe material and should be cleaned thoroughly before use. The size of this container will depend on the size and number of fish you need to relocate. Unless they are Sardines your fish will not do well when packed tightly into a tiny container. Purchasing a small pre-formed pond liner is a great idea for someone who has large Koi or an ample amount of fish that need a winter home. You will also want to purchase some Pond Netting to keep your fish from jumping out of their winter apartment and onto your garage floor.

The new container can be filled with water from your water garden or you can start from scratch and fill it with tap water. If you decide to fill from the tap you will want to add a Water Conditioner to neutralize any chloramines and remove other potentially harmful elements from the water. In addition to pond conditioner you will want to allow a few weeks for the water in the container to cycle and balance. Aeration and filtration will play a major role in the well being of your fish once they are relocated. If you currently use an external Pressurized Filter your water garden this can be used for your inside application as you will have to bring it in for the winter regardless. You will also need a small pump to circulate the water in this container as well which you may also be able to borrow from your outdoor water garden. If you have neither a pump nor pressurized filter on hand you can purchase an All-In-One system to do the job. If you have to use a new filter or you decided to fill the container with tap water seed your filtration pads with PL Gel to ensure an adequate presence of beneficial bacteria and reduce the waters cycle time.

When the time comes, collect your fish using a Fist Net and transfer them to their new home using the same acclimation process you would undergo with new fish. If you are unsure of how to acclimate your fish click over to our Blog that explains the process in greater detail. Do not feel the need to rush through the transporting process as your fish are safe and comfortable in their water garden for the time being. Take your time to make sure your fish are moving into a safe and comfortable environment so you and your fish can enjoy some indoor ponding this winter.

Pond Talk: Do you bring your fish in for the winter? How do you provide an indoor home for them?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

How can I get rid of the discoloration in my pond? It looks like a tea pot. – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I get rid of the discoloration in my pond? It looks like a tea pot.

How can I get rid of the discoloration in my pond? It looks like a tea pot. Esther, Eureka, VA

Tea colored water is a common issue that typically comes up later in the year as the weather cools and the trees start to drop their leaves. The ponding season may be coming to an end in a couple of months but you still want your pond looking its very best. Where is this tea colored water coming from and how can you make it go away?

Water discoloration can occur for a couple of reasons both pertaining to organic debris having a significant presence in your pond. If you have a lot of floating organic particulates in your water they will cause turbid or colored water and is usually stirred into the water column via your pump or aeration system. The other cause of water discoloration, and the most common cause of tea colored water, is the presence of an abundance of organic debris. Leaves are the main contributor to the problem as they release tannins into the water which, like you said, leaves your pond looking like a tea kettle. The best way to determine if your pond suffers from floating particulate or an abundance of tannins is by filling a clear jar with pond water and placing it in a still area. Floating debris will eventually sink to the bottom of the jar leaving the water clear looking. If the water is tinted by tannins the water will remain discolored. Once you pinpoint the culprit you can effectively treat the problem.

Since an abundance of organics is to blame in either scenario you will want to start by cleaning the bottom of the pond to remove any muck, leaves and any other remaining debris. The easiest way to do so is to use a Pond Vacuum but if you do not have one yet a Skimmer Net, Gloves and elbow grease will do the trick. Once you have the majority of debris cleaned out of the pond you will want to do a partial water change. Physically scoop or pump out 10 to 25% of the contents of your pond and fill it with clean fresh water. If you have fish in the pond you will want to add Pond & Fish Conditioner to detoxify the harmful components of tap and well water. If you are fortunate enough to be enjoying warmer weather still and your water temps are above 50° add Beneficial Bacteria to digest remaining organic debris and to keep them from accumulating again. Using Muck Defense goes a long way in removing hard to reach bottom dwelling muck from between your rocks as well. If your water temps are below 50° substitute your beneficial bacteria products with Seasonal Defense. To remove tannins from the water place a media bag filled with Activated Carbon in your biological filter. While the bacteria and activated carbon are going to work you may want to consider covering your water garden with a Pond Protector Net Kit or some Pond Netting to keep new leaves and debris from making their way into to pond. A cleaner pond going into the Winter is much easier to maintain come Spring time so a little work now will go a long way later.

POND TALK: How did you chase away tea colored water in your pond? Do you use a pond net in the Fall?

Get rid of tea colored water fast!

How can I keep leaves out of my pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I keep leaves out of my pond?

How can I keep leaves out of my pond? Rick – Birds, IL

This Tent’s Not for Camping

You may not want to admit it yet, but the summer season is coming to a close. While we love the mild weather and the changing colors of the trees, us water garden owners have to turn our attention to the falling leaves. No worries however, we have one simple tool that you can use to avoid having to deal with leaves falling into your water garden.

We are of course talking about pond netting. If you dealt with Herons in the summer you may already have a pond net on hand. While they are great for keeping unwanted predators out of your pond they are more commonly used for keeping leaves and other blowing debris from falling in. There are two basic styles of pond netting you can purchase. The most simplistic version of this being a pre cut piece of mesh netting. This netting is available in an Economy Grade which is ideal for single season use or a Heavy Duty version. You can pull this mesh tight across the surface of your pond and secure it using stakes or rocks. This application works well for water gardens that may receive minimal amounts of debris. If you are in a heavily wooded area or are prone to massive amounts of debris you will be better off utilizing a Pond Protector Net Kit that implements a domed design to better protect your pond. The netting included with the kit extends beyond the tent-style frame allowing you to pull netting along the contours of your pond so there are no gaps left open for debris to enter.

Keeping leaves out of your pond in the fall will help keep the pond clean and manageable going into the colder seasons and will ensure a faster, easier cleanout and start up next season. Leaves left in the pond to decompose tend to create “tea-colored” water due to the tannins they release in the decomposition process. You can fill Media Bags with Activated Carbon and place them in your filter boxes to help clear the water if this happens to you. Also continue to use Nature’s Defense and Muck Defense to manage the muck left behind by decomposing leaves and fish waste. As water temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit you can switch from Nature’s Defense and Muck Defense to Seasonal Defense. Seasonal Defense is a cool water natural bacteria that will continue the decomposition process throughout the fall and winter.

POND TALK: Do you fight to keep leaves out of your pond in the Fall? Has a pond net helped make your end of season ponding easier and more enjoyable?

Keep the leaves out!

Do great blue herons fly south for the winter? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Got herons? We have solutions!

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: Do great blue herons fly south for the winter? – Derek in Massachusetts

A: The bane of fishpond owners, great blue herons, will make a quick meal out of pricey koi and graceful goldfish. The good news is that those in the northern swath of the United States are about to enjoy their exit – at least for the winter months.

These birds are one of the most widespread wading birds in North America. While herons’ breeding range stretches from the southern Canadian provinces to southern Mexico, their wintering and permanent range extends from southeastern Massachusetts along the coastal states and west across the southern half of the United States, and into Mexico and northern South America. So when the temperatures dip, they prefer to fly south to the warmer climates.

If you live in the northern regions of New England, the Great Lakes, the Northern Plains and regions that freeze during the winter, you will see the herons fly for warmer skies. Experts report the birds migrate south from the northern portions of their breeding range beginning in September and October, with their return in mid-March.

For those who live in great blue herons’ wintering and permanent range, you’ll unfortunately enjoy no wintertime respite from these sushi-eating birds. Here are some ways to keep your fish safe:

    Install pond netting: A near-invisible barrier, pond nets, like the Atlantic® Pond Protector Net Kit, prevent the birds from landing in your water feature and spearing your fish. They also keep fall leaves from turning your pond into an over-sized tea pot.
    Put up a decoy: Because herons are territorial, you can place a heron decoy near your pond to dissuade others from landing. Be sure to move it periodically to keep up the appearance of a live bird.
    Spray the birds away: Motion-activated scarecrow devices, which shoot a 35-foot blast of water at any animal that breaches its sensor sweep, make excellent deterrents for not only heron, but raccoon and other predators, too.

POND TALK: What do you do to deter herons from landing in your yard?

How do I prepare my fish for winter? Do I need to bring them inside? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Allow harmful gases to escape by adding a diffuser.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: How do I prepare my fish for winter? Do I need to bring them inside? – Liz in Michigan

A: As the temperatures fall, we may be pulling out our winter coats and goulashes, but your fish don’t need them at all! In fact, pond fish, like koi and goldfish, do quite well in a pond over the winter – even if it freezes over – as long as your pond is at least 18 inches deep (though we recommend 24 inches to be certain the fish don’t turn into popsicles). The fish will go into their annual torpor, or dormancy, and will require little more than clean, oxygen-rich water to survive.

To ensure they get that life-sustaining oxygen, you will need to do four things:

1. Remove debris from the pond. In the fall, before ice forms, give your pond or water feature a good cleaning. Rake out debris, trim dead leaves off plants, net floating leaves and remove as much detritus as possible so very little will be decomposing – and releasing harmful gasses – through the cold months.

2. Add some beneficial bacteria. Also in the fall, you may want to add some beneficial bacteria, like Pond Logic®’s Seasonal Defense®. It accelerates the decomposition of leaves, scum and sediment that builds up during the fall and winter months. In the spring, it replenishes winter bacteria loss, jump starts the filter and breaks down unwanted waste, making your pond water ready for a clean spring and summer.

3. Install an aerator or air stone. Colder water holds more oxygen than warmer water, but you’ll still want to inject air into the pond during the winter months, especially if your pond freezes over. One or two air stones or a diffuser placed in a shallow part of your pond will be enough to aerate the water and keep a small hole in the ice, which will allow harmful gasses to escape and oxygen to enter.

4. Hook up a heater. If you live in a frigid area where the ice on your pond builds to an inch or more, you can use a floating heater or de-icer, like the Thermo Pond, that melts through the ice. Again, it’s critical to keep an open hole in the ice to allow for gas exchange.

In most cases, your fish will be just fine through the winter months. When the water warms, you can begin feeding them again and enjoying them for yet another year!

POND TALK: How do you prepare your fish for winter?

Keeping Leaves Out of Your Water Garden with Pond Netting – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Pond Netting Over a Water Garden.

Q: My water garden is placed by a tree and a ton of leaves collect in my water garden. It is a real pain cleaning the pond out at the end of the year. What can I do to prevent leaves from coming in? – Matt of Pennsylvania

A: This is definitely an issue that should be addressed. By preventing leaves from entering the pond, you will help reduce the “muck” build-up, allowing for less pond maintenance.

Using Pond Netting to Keep the Leaves Out: A simple solution to keeping leaves out is to place a pond netting over your water garden. Most pond netting will come with their own stakes that can be used to keep the net in place. This is by far the best and easiest way to accomplish this.

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