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Is there anything I should do for my pond/lake to prepare it for Spring? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

Dyed Pond

Q: Is there anything I should do for my pond/lake to prepare it for Spring? – Dan in Illinois

Breaking the Ice on Your Spring Pond Projects
With the sun shining brighter than ever and the snow finally disappearing, most of us pond guys and gals are itching to throw on our waders and dive into our ponds — figuratively of course.

As the Saying Goes, “An Ounce of Prevention…”
Ok, so none of us really want to spend our spring and summer in waders pulling weeds and tending to unruly ponds. So what can you do to ensure your Winter/Spring transition is smooth and enjoyable? As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true in the months to come. Following some easy procedures will keep those waders in your closest and a smile on your face.

Do Your Pre-Spring Cleaning
Walk around your pond and pick up any debris that has made its way into your yard and around your shoreline. If left to sit, this clutter will turn into a food source for algae in the spring. Cut back any weeds or unwanted vegetation growing around the pond while it is still dormant, keeping it from taking over your pond as the temperatures rise. Now is also a great time to inspect and clean your aeration system cabinet and, if the ice has already melted in your pond, the plates as well. This would be a good opportunity to move the plates back to the deeper areas of your pond for summer aeration, if you happened to move them to shallower areas during the winter.

Shaken, Not Stirred
With all of the dye, beneficial bacteria, and occasional algaecides we’ve added to our ponds over the seasons, you just may be qualified to tend a tiki bar at your pond. While your PondClear™ and EcoBoost™ get the back shelf for the winter season, you should be adding dye to your pond year-round as algae can still grow under a layer of ice in the colder months. If you have not been doing so, add your dye now to reduce the amount of sunlight available. Preventing algae growth now will keep you from fighting an algae bloom in the spring. Your PondClear™ and EcoBoost™ treatments should continue once the water temperature is above 50º F. For those of us who suffer from Duckweed, as spring approaches, you will want to have your Sonar™ A.S. on hand and ready to apply come mid-April so it has a chance to go to work and prevent weeds from growing throughout the season.

Take Inventory
Kris Kringle is not the only one checking his list twice over the winter. Pond guys and gals everywhere should be checking their remaining ClearPAC® and necessary weed control products and replenishing these items for the upcoming season. Inspect your tools and decoys to make sure they are in working condition. With everything in working order and ready to use, you are now ready for anything spring sends your way. All that’s left to do now is enjoy your pond!

POND TALK: How do you break the ice on your Spring pond projects? What do you have planned for your pond or water garden this season?

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?

Why do people put dye in their decorative ponds? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Pond Dye

Water Garden & Features Q & A

A: If you’re new to the hobby, the thought of adding dye to your pond may seem like a foreign concept! Why would you want to add color to the water that you’re working so hard to keep clear? Well, there are aesthetic reasons – and some practical reasons, too.

Understanding Dye

First, let’s discuss the dyes themselves. Pond dye typically comes in two colors: black and blue. Black pond dye, like Pond Logic® Black Pearl™ Pond Shade, gives shaded ponds a rich look and turns a brown or gray water feature into a stunning pool that reflects the trees and landscape. Blue pond dye, like Pond Logic® Blue Sapphire™ Pond Shade, gives ponds a natural-looking blue color and looks best in features surrounded by manicured or open landscapes. You’ll find these pond dyes in concentrated form. When you add the recommended amount, the coloring will diffuse throughout the pond within several hours. They’re safe for people, pets, fish and water fowl.

Why Dye?

Adding dye to your decorative pond does more than give your water feature a unique and appealing look. The dye actually serves several purposes, from controlling algae and simulating depth to protecting fish and masking a murky pond.

Simulate depth: Some people use dye in their ponds to make a shallow pond seem deeper. If you have a 14-inch-deep pond, adding black dye can make it seem 5 feet deep. The optical illusion creates a mirroring effect that appeals to many pond owners.

Fish safety: When predators fly overhead or lurk alongside the pond, a little pond dye – along with some predator control – will go a long way in protecting your fish. Koi and goldfish will dart to your pond’s dark depths when a heron or raccoon threatens them. The pond dye serves a similar purpose.

Aesthetics: Of course, aesthetics remain an important reason why folks use dye in their ponds. A crystal blue pond or a rich reflective pond mimics what you’d find in nature. Couple that with a tranquil landscape, and you have an attractive water feature that draws oohs and ahhs!

Algae control: The top reason why people add dye to their ponds is that it is widely known throughout the industry that it may inhibit algae growth. Algae thrives in sunlight and pond dyes filter those rays, preventing them from reaching below the surface, thereby preventing algae from growing.

POND TALK: Why do you use pond dye in your decorative pond or water garden? If you don’t use pond dye, why not?

How Do I Deter Herons From My Water Feature? – Water Feature Q & A

Picture of a heron catching a koi

Water Feature Q & A

Q: I have a hungry heron visiting my pond. What can I do besides a net? P.S. Is it legal to shoot a heron in the state of Virginia? – Earl of Virginia

A: A fish lovers nightmare…the heron! Ever wake up in the morning, walk out to your water feature with a cup of coffee (or orange juice for you non-coffee drinkers) and discover a heron eating one of your precious koi (see left)? Your heart begins to race and your not sure what to do, you grab the nearest broom and charge out to the heron like there’s no tomorrow! Are you tired of this? Well here are a couple of options for deterring and protecting your fish.

The Motion Activated Scarecrow: This motion-sensored sprinkler is a great way to deter not only herons but other predators as well. The sprinkler simply hooks up to a garden hose and is triggered by motion. There is a dial on the sprinkler that adjusts the sensitivity. When a heron/predator approaches sensor, it shoots a 3-second burst of water up to 180 degrees.

Pros: Extremely effective throughout the season. Can be easy blended into your water feature.

Cons: The Scarecrow doesn’t know the difference between a heron and a person so be prepared to dodge the spray!

Great Blue Heron Decoy:
Herons are very territory birds. When flying over head, if a heron sees another heron they will deter and go elsewhere. This life-like decoy, when placed next to your water feature, will do just that. We highly recommend to move them every couple of days. This will help prevent the heron from figuring out the decoy.

Pros: Effective when moved around. Adds a nice touch of nature to any water feature.

Cons: Cannot be placed outside during mating season (March-May) for obvious reasons. Once a heron has already established your water feature as its territory it becomes harder for the decoy to be effective.

Can you shoot a heron?:
Although they can be a pest, Great Blue Herons are protected under federal law. It is illegal to shoot them in the US.

Protecting Your Fish From Predators – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Great Blue Heron

Q: Last year something caused over 20 of my fish to disappear overnight. How can I protect my fish?
-Katherine of Nanty Glo, PA

A: More often than not, what took your fish was a blue heron. We hear this quite a bit throughout the year. Here are a couple suggestions:

Blue Heron Decoy: These decoys, when used correctly, will deter blue herons away from your water garden. Here’s why: Blue herons are very territorial birds. If a heron sees another heron by a prospecting water garden, it will rather fly to another destination than challenge the heron thats there. By using a Blue Heron Decoy, you can accomplish just that. It is recommended to move the heron decoy every other day. Caution: DO NOT use heron decoys during mating season as they will become a heron magnet instead.

Motion Activated Scarecrow Sprinkler: This motion activated sprinkler works extremely well to deter any predator (including kids =) ). Simply hook to your garden hose, set the sensitivity level and any predator that comes within a 20 foot range will get hit with a 3 second burst of water. It works great and it is guaranteed effective.

Aquatic Plants: Having a 50-60% coverage in plants will help create a hiding spot for fish when predators are around.

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