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Maintenance

Under normal circumstances ponds need little in the way of maintenance.
Once the aquatic environment has become firmly established maintenance is  reduced to a minimum and there is plenty of time to simply enjoy.
Naturally a little regular work is needed and it is important to keep a watchful eye on conditions in the pond.
However, enjoyment of the pond environment will in itself sharpen the eye of the beholder.

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Generell Maintenance

It is essential to ensure that there is sufficient water in the pond all year round.
Pond water can evaporate very quickly indeed during hot weather.
The quality of the water also needs regular checking.
The acidity (pH) of the water should always be checked after a long period of heavy rain.
Any debris that collects in the water should be removed immediately.
Any problems involving algae should be dealt with swiftly.

Remove any plant residues and keep a close eye on the plants themselves.

Plants  can come away from their planting baskets or fall over.
Water lilies  often have a tendency to float to the surface.
Return them to their  baskets at the bottom of the pond and weigh these down with rocks. Check plants and fish for damage or injury.

Maintenance in Spring

The pond starts to come back to life. Slowly plants and animals awake from  their winter sleep. The first signs of green appear in the water and on  the banks. As soon as the temperature permits protective materials  should be removed from tender marginal plants. All the old, dead growth  can now be cut away. Be careful not to damage any of the new growth, i.e. do not cut back too far.Remove all dead organic material from the water, such as the leaves of last year’s yellow flags.

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This treatment rejuvenates the entire plant world in and around the pond.  Now is the time to divide perennials, planting the young plants in  fresh, fertile plant media. If you are planting plants in the pond with  new plant media, make sure this is thoroughly soaked beforehand.  Otherwise the baskets will have a tendency to float and the new soil  will be washed out.

Water  lilies that have been taken out of the pond for the winter can be  returned to the water and sensitive plants that you put into deep water  for the winter can go back to their normal spots. This is also the time  to check the pond for any damage that might have occurred during the  winter months and clear away any debris that may have collected on the  bottom. This should not be done too early in the year. If the water is  still very cold there may well be hibernating creatures still dormant in the silt at the bottom.

The pump can go back into the pond. The bio-filter can be cleaned and restarted. In early spring oxygenating plants are not sufficiently active despite  the fact that the water may contain the necessary nutrients. Algae such  as pond scum and blanketweed could take this as an invitation to grow  and try to take over the pond. This situation will normally right itself with balance being restored within a short time. However, if it goes on for too long, you will need to act. Blanketweed can be fished out of  the water and floating algae or pond scum can be removed via filtration.

Once the water temperature has reached 50F you can slowly start to feed the  fish again, but use the special formulated Spring-Food. Check whether  they have come through the winter in good health and show no signs of  deformity or injury.

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Maintenance in Summer

Ensure the pond does not become overgrown.
If the ecosystem is to operate efficiently at least two thirds of the water surface must remain open.
Filamentous algae such as blanketweed can be a problem in summer but you should try to fight them without taking recourse to chemical agents (available in  the shops). These agents will quickly disturb the chemical balance in  the water.
Simply fish the algae out by wrapping them around a stick and pulling them to  one side. Blanketweed/Stringalgea can become completely tangled up in  oxygenating plants.

When this happens it is impossible to avoid pulling up some of these at the  same time. The presence of blanketweed actually indicates that the water quality in the pond is very good and that it contains an often  temporary plus of nutrients.

The reasons behind this plus are often unknown and, of course,
there is no way you can know everything that enters the water in your pond from the environment outside it.

A high  nutrient concentration can be the result of large volumes of pollen  being blown into the pond from flowering plants in the surounding area.
When the weather is very warm it can do no harm to add extra oxygen to the  water by means of a pump that produces bubbles or by activating a  fountain or waterfall feature.

During this period you will need to take steps to keep down invasive plants, which will otherwise become completely out of hand.

You also need to check fish for disease and injury during the summer.

Maintenance in Fall/Autumn

As the summer draws to an end leaves will start to fall from the trees.
This speeds up as autumn proceeds and many leaves will fall into your pond.
Remove as many of these leaves as possible. Covering the surface of the pond  with a net is an unattractive measure and it is better to fish the  leaves off the surface every couple of days. Leaves generally float for a couple of days before sinking to the bottom.
Any leaves that are  allowed to sink to the bottom of the pond will be broken down by  organisms in the soil as winter progresses and a great many nutrients  will be released, which can, in certain circumstances, lead to rot. This should be avoided at all cost.
Toxic gases may form and if they are  unable to escape, due to a layer of ice on the water, they will damage  fish and other creatures living in the pond.
Rotting also uses up  huge amounts of oxygen from the water. Dying bog and marginal plants are best left alone. The leaves remaining on these plants provide some  protection in winter. However, any parts hanging in the water and likely to rot should be removed. Frost tender marginal plants can be moved to  deeper water once they have died off above soil level. This keeps them  out of danger of frost damage. The same applies to tender water lilies.  Less hardy bog plants can be given additional protection by covering  them with branches. However, do not do this unless there is a real  threat of frost and remove the protective covering as soon as the  temperature permits.

During  this period oxygenating plants will become less active and this is  reflected by the growth of algae, which continue to be active even at  lower temperatures. These will seize the opportunity to turn your pond  water into a 'green soup'. However, this usually does not last long and  normally causes no great problems. Move tender plants indoors and give  them a well-lit spot that is guaranteed frost-free. You can stop feeding the fish once the temperature falls below 50F. They now have to rely  on the bodily reserves they have built up in spring and summer.

Remove  the water pump from the pond, clean and store it until spring. Check and clean the biofilter. Install a small oxygen pump with a 'bubble' stone  in the water to generate extra oxygen under the ice in winter.
Fish should also be checked for disease and damage in autumn.

Maintenance in Winter

The pond sleeps.If you have installed an oxygen pump or a bubble stone, you can provide the frozen pond with extra oxygen.
An De-Icer is very useful for ensuring the good exchange of gases between the water and the atmosphere.
If your pond is primarily a fish pond, it may even be advisable to install a water heater.
Any hollow plant stems that penetrate the ice layer also help towards a good exchange of gases.

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This is  the reason why a bunch of reeds is sometimes placed in a pond before it  freezes over. Everything like this helps. In actual fact, there is not  much you can do with the pond during the winter.
One thing you must under no circumstances do is: hack the ice to try to create a hole in it. This would generate massive vibrations in the water and could actually kill your fish.

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Maintanance for Water Plants

Growth of Algea

Algae are plants and use exactly the same nutrients as all other water  plants. Unfortunately they have the ability to multiply at a very rapid  rate when there is plenty of food about. This applies particularly to  pond scum, which can turn a pond into a bowl of 'green soup' in a matter of days. If algae spread excessively, light fails to penetrate to the  underwater plants below the surface of the pond. If this goes on for too long these plants can actually die off.

In early spring algae can produce a growth spurt for a short period  because the other plants in the pond are not yet strongly active and  have a low nutrient requirement.
Algae are just that bit quicker to  awaken. If you find that later in the year pond scum shows a dramatic  increase, this means that the biological balance of the water is  disturbed and action is needed.
Bernd’s Pond sells a variety of  control substances but you should beware of using chemicals unless you  know exactly what you are doing.
A more ecologically sound method of combating algae is by using a good biological filter.
The appearance of other forms of algae, such as blanketweed/stringalgea,  indicates that the water in your pond is in good condition.
However,  it is better to remove the long trails from the surface of the pond.  Insert a stick into the mass and twist it. The blanketweed will wrap  itself around the stick and can be pulled out.
Algae grow less vigorously in shaded parts of the pond.

The different planting zones of a pond provide habitats for many different  plant varieties. The deep water zone is home to water lilies and  underwater plants. At the edges, up to a depth of about 12”, you will  find marginal plants and the bog or marsh zone contains plants that  thrive in waterlogged soil and even shallow water.
The highest part  of the marsh zone is the wet bank and provides a habitat for plants that like their roots in waterlogged soil but not actually in the water.  Further away from the pond we find the garden or dry bank zone.
In  practice of course these boundaries overlap. Many plants have no  problems with fluctuating water depths. It is almost impossible to  specify the ideal location fully accurately.

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Water lilies and other ground rooting plants with floating leaves

Often these plants require quite different water depths depending on the variety in question.
For example, some water lilies need water that is at least 1 yard deep,  while others will be perfectly satisfied with depths of 6” to 12”.
Water lilies prefer stagnant water and a spot in full sunlight.
Never plant them near a spouting fountain.
This type of plant needs a good-sized basket in the bottom of the pond and  plenty of surface area on which they can spread their foliage.
Plant them between mid April and June. Stick to the water depth indicated for the plant.
It is very difficult to get lotus plants to flower in a garden pond as  conditions are generally too cold. This is the reason why this group of  plants usually get planted in smaller lotus container outside of the  pond. There water warms up quicker and the time to build up the flower  will be longer.

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