Autumn advice - maintain and clean the pond

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Maintenance of the pond every Autumn:

Question: Why should you maintain and clean the pond?

Answer: To avoid algae and blanketweed growth next Spring.

    1. Remove any fallen tree leaves with a dipping net
    2. Cut back any upright marginal plant vegetation to 15cm (6") above the Winter water level
    3. Remove low growing foliage - old waterlily leaves and long stems from rafting plants
    4. Remove small amounts of accumulated silt by dragging a fine mesh net over the pond base.
  • If you regularly (at least annually) remove leaves and vegetation from your pond and do not allow a compost heap to build up on the base then you should be able to avoid a total clear out of the pond water for many years and will get less algae bloom and blanketweed next Spring.
  • Tidy the pond and remove excess plant growth. This allows maximum amounts of light to pass through the water to the submerged oxygenating plants in Winter.
  • Leave oxygenating plants in the pond in Autumn.

Little and often is the motto with pond maintenance.

A sign of a pond in need of extra attention is its smell:

  • This smell comes from the layer of silt/sludge at the bottom of the pond and is caused by the incomplete rotting of vegetation due to the lack of oxygen (anaerobic).
  • If there is not enough oxygen in the water the rotting process (the Nitrogen Cycle) cannot complete resulting in the production of other gases - methane and hydrogen sulphide (the smell of rotten eggs) which are noxious to fish and other living organisms.

See below an 8ftx8ft pond after one seasons growth (LHS) and how it was left after an Autumn maintenance (RHS).

To clean the pond base in Autumn:

  • Remove any thick silt layer and do a partial water change to reintroduce oxygen to the system and remove the overload of rotting material.
  • Do not be paranoid – you do not need to remove all the silt – look out for dragonfly and damselfly larvae using it as a hiding place and for some overwintering creatures like Great Diving Beetles.
  • Some silt will also be a source of nutrient for waterlilies next year.
  • In a small pond use a fine, flat edged dipping net which you can drag cross the base of the pond and lift any silt into a wheelbarrow for redistribution on the veg patch as a good source of nutrients.
  • We recommend you net across one half of the pond floor one year and the other half the following year.

Alternatively, use Mud Muncher.

  • an environmentally friendly solution to the build up of sludge and mud in ponds.
  • a blend of live bacteria that contains no herbicides or pesticides.
  • It digest organic matter such as fish waste, fallen leaves and decaying plant matter, which can cause the build up of sludge.
  • Helps eliminate odours and reduces the need to clean out ponds and filters.
  • Safe for fish, wildlife, pets and plants in the pond.

One off total pond clean out in Autumn:

  • Do any major clean out or overhaul an old, neglected pond in Autumn
  • Less wildlife species are in the water at that time of year.
  • Still be vigilant to check and replace any creatures that are removed from the water accidentally.
  • Remove overgrown plants and decide how much of the clump should go back and if it would benefit from being divided and potted into more than one basket (if space in your pond allows.)
  • Keep as much mature water as possible in clean dustbins or the like to replace back into the pond after the clean out
  • Top up with rainwater over Winter if possible.

Other Autumn pond tasks:

  1. Place any Half Hardy and Non Hardy plants into a greenhouse for protection.
  2. Place all waterlilies low enough in the water to be below any expected ice level in your area.
  3. Check any plants for duckweed and wash them clean before replacing them in the pond.
  4. Check for leaks or splits and weak spots in the pond liner and mend or add a patch of pond liner with waterproof adhesive

Spend more time now and see beneficial results next Spring.

  • Useful long armed pond gloves for doing Autumn maintenance in the pond.
  • Cover the entire hand and arm in waterproof materials
  • Available in 2 sizes for both the smaller and medium/large hand size - there will be a pair to suit everyone!
  • No excuses! Clean out your pond now.

For related products - see below: