Must-Follow Tips for Maintaining a Landscape Pond in Every Season

You need to do maintenance on your landscape pond during every season of the year. Follow this guide to keep your pond in top condition.

children next to pond with lily pads

It's important to understand landscape pond maintenance, whether for a large or small pond, in-ground or aboveground. In addition to plants, the materials from which a pond is constructed influence the maintenance requirements of a landscape pond. Here are some essential elements of a landscape pond:

  • A liner made of flexible synthetic rubber, PVC sheeting, or rigid plastic or fiberglass holds the water. It will prevent leaks.
  • A bed of sand provides the resting spot for the liner; less common materials include clay or concrete.
  • Edging materials, typically stones or concrete pavers, prevent surface water from draining into the pond, which can cause contamination.

Landscape Pond Maintenance Routines

It seems counterintuitive, but there can be fewer steps to large landscaping pond maintenance than small ones. Smaller ponds are more prone to fluctuations in ecology and chemistry. However, all ponds need weekly care, with more work at the beginning and end of the growing season in cold-weather climates. Here's how to maintain a landscape pond from season to season.

Landscape Pond maintenance in Spring

lily pads in stream next to pergola
  • Clean the pond bottom, if needed, by draining the pond and hosing down the liner; more than an inch of muck is detrimental.
  • Locate and patch leaks using a pond repair kit. Any landscape pond maintenance routine must include this process to prevent ongoing water loss.
  • Reinstall the pump and filter; replace them if necessary.
  • Top off the water level by trickling water at the bottom of the pond to avoid the buildup of salts and minerals.
  • Skim leaves and debris to help prevent toxic gases.
  • Add oxygenating aquatic bunch plants to increase the water's oxygen level.
  • Divide potted plants to keep them thriving.
  • Begin feeding fish using a high-carbohydrate food to help them with increased activity.
  • Move frost-sensitive tropical plants from winter storage. Return them to ponds in the spring after the threat of cold weather has passed.
  • Divide and replant water lilies, lotus, and marsh plants.
  • Add new floating and submerged plants once the water has warmed to 50ºF and all danger of frost has passed; this will keep algae in check.
  • Fertilize potted plants.

Landscape Pond Maintenance in Summer

pond with koi feeding
  • Top the water level as needed. Keeping the proper water balance and preventing salt and mineral buildup is essential. When water is required, add large amounts rarely and small amounts often.
  • Test the water chemistry weekly using a kit for ammonia, chloramines, and chlorine. An excessive amount of these chemicals will kill fish.
  • Trim plants and remove dead leaves, flowers, and overgrown plants to prevent fast growers and plant debris from overwhelming the pond. Remove any submerged plants that appear to be dying.
  • Check filters and pump intakes weekly for clogs; clean as needed.
  • Add a fountain or bubbler to increase aeration for fish; hot water can be oxygen-depleted.
  • Routinely check fish for sores or unusual behavior.
  • Control plant pests to maintain healthy plants; control algae with a long-handled bristle brush, rake, or pole.
  • Fertilize potted plants monthly with aquatic-plant fertilizer tablets.

Landscape Pond Maintenance in Fall

japanese maple next to stream with boulders
Pond in backyard
  • Skim or net falling leaves; if many trees surround the pond, netting can help catch the leaves. Secure the netting with bricks or rocks.
  • Reduce fish feeding and stop completely when the water temperature decreases to 50ºF. The reason? Digestion in fish slows in the winter, and undigested food in their guts can kill fish.
  • Remove nonhardy plants and fish indoors to ensure winter survival. If your pond doesn't freeze solid, move hardy submerged plants and hardy water lilies and lotus to the deepest part of the pond after trimming off the foliage.
  • Disconnect the filter and pumps; drain and store inside.
  • Drain water lines and fountains; use a siphon if necessary.

Landscape Pond Maintenance in Winter

snow on deck by pond with rocks
  • Float wood or a ball on the pond surface to absorb pressure from expanding ice, which will protect the pond.
  • Keep an air hole open for fish with a bubbler or air stone to keep the water moving slowly; this will release toxic gases and prevent the water from freezing.
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