Pond Care 101!
Ponds may seem mysterious and hard to care for but once you know the basics, they really are pretty easy to maintain, providing you with something beautiful and enjoyable year round!
Spring Pond Care:
In northern climates where the pond freezes over completely, you have to wait until the water in the pond, skimmer (pump house), biofalls, AND the underground pipe thaw before turning the pump on. Sometimes thawing takes a while, especially if there are shady spots near your pond.
Once the ice melts, it is time for a little spring cleaning! Spring is a good time to deep clean your fish pond. This removes sunken debris and muck and algae still clinging to the rocks.
Before cleaning, remove any deicer gadgets or special aerators and store for next winter. Switch the return de-icer pipe to the regular piping set up. Watch a DIY video on deep cleaning your pond.
If you don’t have time, schedule a “clean my fish pond”. (You can order a pond clean out with or without fish!) Once the pond is clean, it’s time to turn it on.
Keep your pond looking great all summer by following the simple pond maintenance tips below:
*Add some beneficial bacteria to help keep algae in check.
*Check for low spots in the liner around the edges.
*Adjust lights or replace light bulbs if needed.
*Trim back plants or remove dead foliage leftover from last year.
*Give landscape plants and aquatic plants a dose of fertilizer.
*Add extra gravel on the pond bottom (this gives good bacteria a place to colonize).
*Plant a few annuals for color around the edges or add a new water lily or native plant
(here is a list of invasive plants to avoid!)
*Don’t feed the fish until the water warms up to roughly 55F. (The fish don’t digest the food at the cooler temps, it just rots in their stomach.)
Early Summer care:
This time of year seems to be when leaks show up and algae dances along. If you suspect there is a leak, follow Jeff’s step-by-step leak detection directions.
Algae are a type of plant which performs photosynthesis just like other plants. There are several types found it home ponds. String algae, microscopic algae, and sometimes brown algae are the most common.
All types need food, light, and oxygen. If you remove one or more of those needs, the algae can be controlled without harsh chemicals.
Fish- Over feeding fish is one of the chief causes of algae “blooms” that we see. Feed only what the fish eat in one period. The fish waste also provides nutrients to algae so play around with the balance of plants vs fish in your pond. You’re trying to mimic the balance of a natural ecosystem.
Algae control we recommend:
Automatic doser- automatically drips the correct amount of beneficial bacteria, and clarifiers into your pond. You can sit back and enjoy clean, clear water!
IonGen probe- The copper ion probe inhibits algae growth automatically. It can be turned up or down depending on how bad the growth is.
Bogs/pond plants- use the nutrients in the water so fewer nutrients are available to algae.
Or use Ecoblast- a granular algaecide that can be spot applied.
For more information on recommended products, check out this link from Aquasacpe.
Summer Check list:
*Auto-fill valve- does it work? This is a great tool to use while on vacation so your pond doesn’t go dry due to evaporation.
A typical 8 x 10’ pond will lose 1-3” of water from evaporation in the heat of summer, especially if it is windy. An auto-fill will cover your loss and prevent the pump from running dry.
*Plants- give them a mid-summer fertilizer and a trim.
*Fish care- Feed, but don’t over feed! They can be trained to come to you.
* Check your skimmer basket regularly. Remove debris. Once a week is typical.
*Wash your filter mats about once a month (or more if the pond is quite dirty.)
Fall Pond care:
In northern climates, fall pond care is largley a battle to keep leaves out!
*Place a net over your pond before any trees nearby start dropping their leaves.
*Use a net to scoop floating leaves before they sink to the bottom. (Fall leaves will discolor your water turning it a tea color.)
*Check your skimmer basket OFTEN! Leaves can plug the basket causing the pump to suck air and burn out!!
*Switch to cool weather fish food when the water temp starts dropping below 60/55F.
*Trim back over grown plants before they freeze and fall into the water.
*Remove annuals and tropical plants. Cut back and store in cool location inside if you want them next year.
*Wash the filter mats.
Late fall pond care:
*Remove your pump and store in water in a place it won’t freeze.
*Place any aerators or heaters in the pond or switch the piping to a return de-icer. These will oxygenate the water for fish overwintering in the pond. Stop feeding the fish as the water temps drop below 45 F.
*Check the auto-fill valve on your pond to make sure it doesn’t have water standing in it.
There isn’t much to do in the winter unless you have fish outside. Simply enjoy your pond’s different moods throughout the winter season! Uplighting on nearby trees makes the pond look magical especially in winter.
If you keep fish in your pond year round, regularly check the pond, making sure there is an open place in the ice for air exchange. The fish don’t need food but they do need oxygen! A heater, return deicer, and/or aerators will provide this. Make sure they are running, especially when the temperature dips below zero F.
If you'd like to keep learning about backyard pond care or fish care, please check out other blog posts or Aquascape Inc. Keep your pond happy and enjoy life!
If you could wave a magic wand to create the perfect pond or waterfall, what would it look like? Whether you are a DIYer or hiring the work done, here are seven questions to help you figure out exactly what that looks like and if it will work for you!
1. How much space do you have?
If space is limited, consider installing a Pondless® waterfall or bubbling urn.
2. Do you have a budget?
Fountains cost the least and are quickest to install. Prices for waterfalls, streams, and ponds depend on size, type or rock used, and difficulty of installation. You can easily add a pond to your waterfall later on if you decide that you’d like to keep some fish and enjoy different types of aquatic plants (water lilies, for example).
A beautiful koi pond 8 x 10 feet and 24 inches deep professionally installed can gust upwards of $11500 depending on type of rock, lighting, or plants added. A basic backyard pond starts at $7200.
3. Do you want fish, plants, or lighting?
If you want fish choose a pond that is at least 24” deep. Lighting can also be added to a fountain or a waterfall. Plants can be customized by the owner, or installed by the contractor. Plants make a beautiful pond even better, and are vital to keeping the water clean in your backyard pond.
4. Do you want to hear the water moving?
A waterfall can be gentle and serene in the form a babbling brook or louder and more dramatic if built with longer drops. Perhaps a koi pond with no sound at all fits you better.
5. How much time do you want to spend time maintaining it?
Be honest about the time. But also note that maintaining a pond actually turns out to be playing in the water for many folks! Pond maintenance is relaxing work. You could hire the maintenance out to a pond professional if you don’t have time or interest.
6. Logistical questions include: Where do you want this? Can you see the water from the house? Be sure to locate it near a window so you can enjoy it from inside too! Does that spot have access to electricity or can it be installed? Do you have an irrigation system? (An automatic fill valve can be added for when you’re on vacation.)
7. Technical questions: Which system will you use? We recommend and only use the Aquascape system for its ease of use and environmentally-friendly approach to crafting and sustaining water features.
Hopefully these questions helped you create your ideal water feature! For more information and fun videos visit Aquascape’s youtube channel, MNponds pinterest page, Aquascapeinc.com for technical information, or contact us to set up a free, phone consultation today!
Enjoy life today!
When you have a pond, you will need to purchase pond supplies at times. Pond pumps, pond plants (like that lovely blue flag iris in the photo!), or koi fish care products may be on your shopping list but where can you buy quality procuts?
Here's a short list of four places to get your pond supplies if you happen to live in in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul, MN area! We recommend Aquascape products for their simplicity and ease of use. Aquascape products try to mimic nature- no hazardous pond chemicals for them! For ease of use, I have divided the metro area into four sections below.
If you live on the South side (Bloomington, Farmington, Rosemount, Apple Valley, Inver Grove Heights, Mendota Heights, South St. Paul etc.) The Pond Company has a retail store with expert, knowledgable staff! They carry Aquascape prodcuts, filters, parts, and beneficial bacterias. They also carry other brands.
If you live near Plymouth, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Medina, Brooklyn Park, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park, Edina (i.e. West metro area) visit Hedberg Aggregates on Nathan Lane. Here you will find all the Aquascape product line, pond plants, fish, and rock from around the world! As a bonus, they have several small indoor fountain displays.
If you live in the East metro area (Stillwater, Lake Elmo, Maplewood, Shoreview, East St. Paul) there is a place for you too! Hedberg Aggregates in Stillwater has all your pond needs including pond parts, filters, bacteria, plus more! They also carry a good selection of perennial flowers, shrubs, and trees along with pottery and decor (plus rocks and mulch)! Check out the outdoor disappearing waterfall display while there.
For those of you in the Northern metro area, I would recommend Bebergs Landscape Supply on Hanson Blvd. They don't carry Aquascape products. They carry the Atlantic Water Gardens product line. I put them on the list because I like them; they are such nice people! They will also have other pond products like rock, mulch, or plants to landscape around your pond.
If you can't get to one of these retailers, type your zip code into Aquascape's "Find a Retailer" or click on shop to buy directly from the supplier! Last but not least, ask us to bring you supplies when we come for a maintenance check or spring clean out!
Enjoy your pond this year!
Spring is here folks!
The snow is melting. The air smells different- moist, not dry. Menards has spring sales like patio furniture and seed starting kits on sale.
So we begin to think of our gardens, specifically our backyard ponds and waterfalls. You may ask, "When should I start up my pond?" After the snow is gone it seems natural to turn your pond pump on to get the water flowing again. But wait!
Do these three things first before starting your pond:
1. Check for ICE. in your pond.
Is the pump basket (skimmer basket) free of ice even at the bottom? If not, let it sit. Ice will prevent enough water from flowing around your pump, potentially burning it up. Purchasing a replacement pump is not a pretty way to start the gardening season.
Is the biofalls or waterfall area free of all ice?
Is the bog ice free?
2. Next, do a little clean up. Scoop dead leavers or rotten pond plants out. Clean the scum off the pond bottom by using a net or deep clean it with a power sprayer.
3. Check the temperature. Do not feed the fish until the water is at least 45/50 Fahrenheit. Koi fish don't really process the food until that water temperature is reached. Unprocessed food may sit in the stomach and rot. Protect your pond fish by holding off on the food! They will nibble on algae and floating debris if they need something.
That's it folks! Pond maintenance in spring is fairy simple. You can do this! And if you just don't want to, call to set up a maintenance check by our professional techicians. They can take care of the grunt work so you can Enjoy Your Pond!
Whether your pond is small or large, your pond will reap big benefits from having water plants! Aquatic plants clean your water and beautify your pond. Every pond owner dreams of less algae and aquatic plants can help! How do they do this?
Water garden plants need nutrients just like plants growing in soil so the nutrients floating around in the water are drawn in through their roots. Nutrients can come from fish waste, old leaves and debris rotting in the water, or minerals present in the water. Algae, also in the plant Kingdom, need nutrients too. If your aquatic plants are using the nutrients, less are available to algae. Fewer nutrients for alae equal less algae growth and cleaner water!
How many plants does my pond need?
To determine how many plants you need, ask yourself the following questions.
Click here for a handy planting guide with several pond sizes shown: Don’t be afraid to experiment!
What kind of plants should I use?
The answer to what kind of plant should I use depends primarily on how much sun exposure your pond gets. The water garden plants you choose should need about the same amount of sun. You don’t want a shade plant mixed with a sun lover! One plant will suffer, one plant will take over.
You will also want a mix of floating plants, marginal plants, and submerged plants to oxygenate the water.
Floating plants float on the water. Common ones are water lettuce, duckweed, bladderwort, water clover, and water hyacinth.
Submerged plants have their roots completely under the water. They are planted right in the pond gravel or in a pot sitting on the pond bottom. Water lilies, smartweed, and lotus roots come to mind.
Marginal plants are planted so their roots are wet but the stem may or may not be completely in the water. They are planted in rock ledges or crevasses around the pond edge and are highly effective at framing waterfalls, softening edges, and filtering unwanted runoff from nearby lawns. Mini cattails, arrow root, marsh marigolds, forget-me-nots, cardinal flower (lobelia), and creeping jenny are examples of marginal plants.
One special note: Some plants are very aggressive in growth and will take over. These plants can be used but may need to stay in a pot to contain them. Some plants may be illegal and invasive to native water ways. Here is a list of 10 such plants. The MN DNR has a list with photos of invasive aquatic plants.
What happens if I have too many plants?
Too many plants in your pond cause problems just like having too few pond plants! An overgrown pond looks messy and is hard to care for. Excessive foliage chokes the water preventing correct filtering. If you have too many plants, so many that you can’t see the water, then it’s time to rip a few out and dispose. (Remember to dispose non-natives according to the MN DNR rules so you don’t accidentally introduce something into the wild which will become invasive.)
For large plant clumps, remove the clump, cut off unwanted dead or damaged spots and rotten stems. If you like the plant, save a small but healthy piece and replant it. If the plant is very aggressive, planting it in a pot which is then submerged will help control future growth.
How do I care for my pond plants?
All plants need food, water, sun, and regular trimming to look amazing. If you are not getting many flowers, the plant probably needs a little fertilizer or more sun. Some plants like water lilies and lotus benefit from a slow release fertilizer pellet put in their root zone.
Regular plant trimming removes rotten or damaged leaves. Check your aquatic plants for damage after a heavy rainstorm or windy day, too. Sometimes the pots get tipped over and just need to be reset.
If a plant looks yellowish, it may be in the wrong sun exposure. Shade loving plants bleach out in the sun and will get a “burnt” look on the margin. Sun loving plants that are in shade will be thin and weak. Move the plant to a different spot in the pond or try something new!
Don’t be afraid to experiment! Gardening, especially water gardening, is fun! For expert help with your water garden please contact us. If you just don't have the time or desire to get dirty this spring, sign up for a Pond Spring Clean-out! (learn more here...)
If you have an old, leaky, or crumbling backyard pond causing you headaches, worry no more! That old leaky pond can be transformed into a Pondless® water feature in a few steps and some sweat equity. Benefits of Pondless® water features include running water without the maintenance, turning it off while on vacation, no wintertime de-icing, and no fish to overwinter! This article shows the seven steps to transform your old pond into a low maintenance water feature.
Converting Old Pond to Pondless –Step by Step Guide
5. After the liner is in place, set the vault box (this holds the pump) in its spot. Next to the vault box place Aquablocks. Both the vault box and aquablocks0 are in the basin and will be covered with gravel. They are the hidden “filter system” for a Pondless® water feature. Aquablocks keep the basin hole from collapsing and reduce the amount of gravel needed.
6. Now it is time to set rocks and gravel. This is when art meets science. The rocks must be placed skillfully so they divert the water correctly. You don’t want to lose the water unknowingly. It helps to set one or two larger rocks in first then add the smaller rocks and gravel.
7. Last, rinse all the rocks and gravel. Pump out the dirty water and fill the basin. It is time to turn your own Pondless® water feature on and enjoy!
I just love seeing before and after photos of other peoples' projects! It doesn't matter if they are home remodeling photos or gardens or backyard ponds or landscaping; I get ideas from all of them! I think many people get design ideas this way! (think: Pinterest!) So, here is a backyard waterfall project that Jeff built several years ago for some wonderful people!
The first shot shows a side view of their backyard. It was a nice, suburban back yard in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area with a very thick lawn! (Part of our work can disrupt the grass but Jeff can easily fix that.) The slope created the perfect canvas for a disappearing waterfall.
Jeff always begins his waterfall design with a hose and can of spray paint!
After the basic waterfall design was laid out, heavy machinery was brought in! Disappearing waterfalls have unique, underground parts that have to be dug in for the waterfall to work properly and remain clean.
You can see the small patio being constructed next to the stream in this photo. A solid base was placed first so the patio pavers will stay nice and level even with winter freeze/thaw patterns.
What looks like a hose is actually the black plastic edging installed around the future garden area near the stream.
Ahh! Some finished pictures showing the beautiful rock and stream bed! (This stone is called tiger stripe or blue weathered edge.)
Jeff put landscape lighting around the stream in the gardens. He also installed LED underwater lights in the waterfall itself!
And here is the waterfall running! You can see several different areas that it drops and the large stone used as a bridge connecting one garden side to the other near the patio. An assortment of perennials and shrubs were installed too and will eventually fill in nicely around all the rocks. (See the naughty dog enjoying the stream?!?)
Tough luck living in Minneapolis, MN this weekend! Since it seems like the spring pond season will never come, I found this video filled with blooming flowers quite cheerful!
If you like tattoos, particularly a flower tattoo, this plant highlighted in the video would be perfect sitting on your front steps or planted near your pond, or even placed in a pot sitting on top of your skimmer box. (I saw something like that last year.)
A little background for the video: Because I am part of the plant world, I subscribe to various plant magazines. (To be perfectly honest, this doesn’t have much to do with ponds or leaks in your pond or even fountains...)
The spring trials are basically a bunch of growers showing off their newest, coolest plants for growers and nursery people. So by watching this video, you are getting a sneak peak at what nurseries in Minnesota will have soon! (Please note: your local nursery may or may not have these plants this season.)
Anyway, enjoy the video! Keep in mind that it is made with a nursery grower in mind, not a backyard pond enthusiast but I hope it brings a bit of spring to brighten your day!
(Written By the Pond Momma)
He wanted a pond….
I must be honest with you; I didn’t want a pond. My husband did though and tried talking me into it for several years. I didn’t want to spend the money; I didn’t want to take up space in our (very) small back yard; I didn’t like the thought of standing water when we had small children around. But, we ended up with a pond anyway! And you know what? I am really glad that we have one now. Now I am the one asking for a bigger pond or a longer stream or a log bridge over part. My husband laughs.
The pond is our favorite place to hang in our backyard pretty much the entire year. As soon as the ice melts, the kids are playing on the edge which turns into wading and looking for the fish. A few weeks ago it rained one of those early spring rains. The pond didn’t have any ice but snow still covered all the dried plants. It was so pretty I tried to take a movie.
Jeff built our pond with steps going down. The each step is only one rock deep so (when) our small children step in, they just sit up and climb out. There are two more steps that are 9 inches. The fish cave is on the lowest level. The pond is only 2 feet deep, and the fish overwinter every year.
Last summer the kids found out they could use their snorkel masks to watch the fish! Ha ha!
I think dipping my toes in during the summer is relaxing but my favorite time is in fall, when the plants are mature and turning copper colored and a few red maple leaves float across the water. I can see the pond at night from my bedroom window and can hear the waterfall echo bouncing off the neighbor’s house up into my upstairs bedroom. (The neighbors enjoy that too!)
If you’ve ever had a backyard pond with a flagstone waterfall, then you know what kind of magic it puts into your yard. The yard seems alive. More birds and butterflies visit. Nature seems closer because the water brings it to you. Even the landscaping seems more beautiful. If someone asked if I would recommend having a pond, I’d say yes in a heartbeat. So glad Jeff talked me into it! Try it. You will be glad to have a backyard pond too!
Jeff Chudek has been building ponds and waterfalls professionally since 2005. As a kid, his favorite time of year was spring, because the spring thaw created so much mud and puddles, and all the trees and plants were waking up. He loves figuring out the best way to use something, and fixing things that are broken. He's good at coming up with ideas, and helping choose the best idea for you.