Post-winter pond maintenance
Ponds and water features usually need a healthy dose of post-winter maintenance as spring rolls in. The colder period results in less activity with fish usually in a winter rest and plants dying or going dormant, but as it gets warmer everything starts waking up again which leaves you with some jobs to do. A good spring clean is in order, especially if you didn’t do the prep work in autumn ahead of winter’s arrival. Your pond needs regular attention just as your garden does, so maintaining your pond during this period is the best way to save yourself some work at the start of spring.
The first thing to do is check out your pond, see how things are looking and shake off winter. Check that the filter is still running, make sure your fish are okay if you have them, check the cover net if you have one and make sure there are no foreign objects in the water. If you have netting, you might need to clear it of any leaves and other débris. If you’ve had a lot of rain, you might find that the water level is higher than usual. You’ll want to drop that down a bit ahead of cleaning, but don’t remove the water completely.
Any leaves and débris that have fallen into the pond need to be removed. Any organic material left in the water will eventually decay as the water gets warmer, which leads to algae issues like green water and sludge. It also can cause an ammonia spike and upset the pH balance, so it’s important to get rid of all the leaves and sludge from the bottom with a net or pond vacuum. If you need to remove your fish while you do this, make sure to keep them stored in containers of pond water as opposed to using fresh water.
Your filter will likely need a good clear out after winter. Give it a good clean inside and out, being thorough to make sure that there are no leaves caught in it. If your filter uses sponges, get them out and clean them in the pond water. If you notice them struggling to spring back to shape or they look smaller than before, it’s time to replace them. UV bulbs should be replaced every 8-12 months, so spring is the perfect time to do it. Getting one now should easily see you through to the end of the summer.
Once you’ve cleaned out the pond, you’ll need to top the water back up. Even if you didn’t remove any, you should still perform a partial water change. If you have fish, it’s recommended to use rainwater to top up your pond if you have a water butt. If you don’t, make sure you dechlorinate any tap water you add. It’s also worth adding an all-purpose treatment to protect against parasites and bacteria, as their immune system is recovering after winter. Fish become more active as the weather starts to warm, which means their metabolisms start to pick up again. After a few consecutive days of warmth, they’re ready to start feeding again.