The warm seasons are a period of heightened activity for your water garden and to help your pond over-winter and burst back into life come spring you will need to spend a little time on some simple tasks now. Don’t look at it as work, more a great excuse to get out and enjoy some gorgeous autumn weather.
If autumn is known for one thing it’s falling leaves and these can create a host of problems if they are allowed to build up in your pond. In the warmer months a pond with well-balanced water and a healthy microbial population can process normal leaf fall effectively converting it to safe, organic material which in turn provides a home for more beneficial bacteria and other organisms.
In the cooler months however things change. The metabolisms of those bacteria and other small organisms are slowing down in response to dropping temperatures so they can’t process as much material let alone a sudden influx of autumn leaves.
Without the work of these micro and other organisms leaves left in the pond will literally rot, reducing saturated oxygen, changing water pH and creating a smelly layer of harmful sludge.
This all sounds somewhat frightening but it’s easy enough to avoid – get those leaves out of the pond as quickly as possible, you’ll find the PondMAX Stainless Steel Fish Net is also ideal for use as a leaf net.
Depending on your situation you may find a PondMAX Pond Cover Net is an efficient way of capturing leaves before they enter the pond. Simple spread across your pond, peg don on one side, pull taught and then peg the other side.
Everything from water lilies to milfoil will have grown like topsy over the warm months and much of that growth is seasonal. Depending on your location some of your plants may even die back over winter. Just as for all that leaf fall it’s important to remove any dead or dying leaves, stems or spent flowers from aquatic plants.
As most are quite soft a good pair of garden scissors is normally adequate but larger, thicker stemmed plants, like pickerel rush, may need garden pruners or secateurs. You can also thin out those floating or fully submerged plants if they’ve become congested.
Look too at plants around the pond and give them a tidy up with a view to maximising cool season sunlight.
Remove Excess Sludge
The layer of sludge that develops on the bed of your pond is natural and, to a degree, desirable. It’s a zone of high biological activity and is an important part of the ecosystem of your pond, processing waste, removing excess nutrients and maintaining water quality. It is however a fine balancing act. Too much sludge, or sludge from rotting, not biologically decomposed material can cause all manner of water and pond health problems. Sludge is more likely to become excessive if you have a lot of leaf fall and if you keep fish, particularly larger ones such as koi.
There are a couple of ways to easily manage excess, undesirable sludge.
The PondMAX Pro Pond Vacuum is a clever venturi-action head with an extendable handle that connects to your garden hose. One the hose is running sludge is sucked up and discharged outside the pond. This is the perfect tool not just for seasonal maintenance but for regular cleaning if you’re a koi keeper. Ideally it should also be used to remove dead algae after treatment with any algae removal products.
Beneficial bacteria will consume excess pond sludge converting it to harmless materials. The easiest way to boost the population of these good guys is to add PondMAX Pond Clarifier Bacteria at the recommended rates for your pond.
Water Care & Clarity
If you have had any issues with blanket weed or string-algae over the warmer months then it is worth adding a dose of PondMAX Blanketweed Blitz now to treat any remaining algae filaments. Blanketweed Blitz is a blend of natural minerals, enzymes and other additives that will wipe out the last seasonal algae.
A week or so after treatment lift you pump and clean the bio-sponge filter block before giving your pump the once over checking and cleaning the impellor, housing and seals.
The filter block and any other filter media should only ever be cleaned in pond water and not flushed or rinsed with tap-water. The products used to sterilise taps-water can kill off populations of the desirable beneficial bacteria that colonise the bio-sponge blocks and media.
You may wish to add fresh water to your pond too. Remove a maximum of around 25% of your pond water and then as you refill add a suitable dose of PondMAX Pond Water Treatment & Conditioner to remove excess chemicals and make the water fish and amphibian friendly.
If you keep fish you may find that the population has increased over the warmer months. Is it time to reduce the numbers a little? Other pond owners may be happy for some of your fish or you may even be able to sell or trade them online if they are fit and healthy. Check any local regulations.
The best way to capture your fish is when the water levels are lowered prior to topping back up. And the easiest and safest way to physically capture them is using a purpose designed PondMAX Stainless Steel Fish Net.
Don’t remove fish unless you are planning on sending them straight to a new home and always make sure they are kept in some pond water taken from their pond.
If they are to be kept in a tub or bucket for any period of time keep the container out of the sun and ensure the water is kept well aerated either by running a pump that is driving bubbles into the water or using a PondMAX Aeration Pump & Airstone.
Thanks to our Ambassador Adam Woodhams