Over winter, did you miss the gentle sounds of water flowing through your backyard pond?
And did you miss the relaxing feeling which comes with watching pond fish swim to and fro?
Well, now that spring is here, you can finally put your pond back into service by following these steps.
Step 1: Give the pond a thorough inspection
The winter may have damaged your pond, the liner or other water features like:
- Decorative pond landscaping rocks.
So give your pond a careful checkup and remove, repair or replace any broken elements as needed.
Step 2: Clean the pond
More than likely, the winter has had some impact on your pond in a few ways:
- Leaves: Even if you installed leaf netting when you closed your pond, chances are that a few leaves got through and settled on the bottom. Make sure you scoop them out.
- Organic matter: Any plants which weren’t totally removed may leave a film of organic matter on the pond bottom. You’ll need to scrub that off.
If you’re not thrilled at the prospect of manually cleaning out your pond (and frankly, who can blame you), then use a pond vacuum or other suitable landscaping supplies to do the work for you.
Step 3: Start the pump
Your pond’s pump has been shut off for winter; now’s the time to turn it back on.
You don’t have to wait until it gets super-warm to do it, either.
When the temperature hits 10 degrees Celsius, feel free to start your pump.
Once the pump is activated, don’t just leave it to run. Make sure you’ll be around the house for at least a few hours.
Every so often, check the pump to make sure it’s working properly and that it’s sending water back into the pond.
Step 4: Clean the filter
Before fully cranking up your pond system, make sure to give the filter a good cleaning.
Just like the pump, the filter’s been off for the winter.
It’s probably covered in bacteria, topsoil particles and other pollutants which will compromise its performance.
Step 5: Test the pond water
Use a pond-testing kit to check for:
- Ammonia: Pond fish (mostly koi) release ammonia through their gills. Too much ammonia will harm the fish and put extra strain on the pond’s filter.
- Nitrite: Not as harmful as ammonia, but nitrite can still harm your pond fish. Adding some live plants to your pond will help keep nitrite levels low.
Levels for both elements should be zero. If they aren’t, you’ll need to change the water and test again.
Step 6: Get your fish ready
If you’re stocking your pond with fish, spring is when they’re most vulnerable to developing health problems.
The shock of transitioning from one water source to another (in the case, your pond) and the introduction of foreign bacteria can cause infections.
To protect your fish before they go into your pond, you should add pond salt.
This replaces electrolytes, potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium – all of which fish lose when they’re stressed.
Step 7: Feed your pond fish
The weather is warm. Your fish are hungry.
When the water temperature goes above 10 degrees Celsius (and stays there), that’s when you can start feeding your pond fish.
Something to remember is that there are different fish food options for spring, summer and fall.
Spring fish food is easier to for fish to digest and has high level of fats.
Step 8: Add plants to your pond
As the water temperature goes up, it’ll be time to add plants (either new plants or those which survived the winter) to your backyard pond.
A few things to note:
- You can fertilize your plants; just make sure to use an aquatic plant fertilizer.
- If any plants are overgrown, divide them before planting in your pond.
- Make sure any mulch is removed from the plants or pots.