Summer pond maintenance is one of the more overlooked responsibilities that property owners have, but it is more important than you might realize. While the dog days of summer may be the perfect time to relax and enjoy your carefully crafted and tended water feature, there are still some things you need to do even now to make sure that your pond is in the best shape possible. The biggest mistake you can make is to assume that summer means the work of maintaining your pond is done.
The bulk of pond care takes place during the spring when any damage that occurred during the heavy winters of the Capital region should be addressed and a general cleanup done to ensure the health of your pond and your fish. But once the comprehensive cleanup is done, that’s when you should get into a regular maintenance routine to make sure that you have proper water level, that bacteria levels are balanced and that your fish and other pond residents have the food and cover they need to thrive.
Check Water Level
The first step in summer pond maintenance is to check your water level. For the pump and skimmer to operate properly, there has to be enough water for them to work with. In the warm summer months, water can evaporate much more quickly than you might think, particularly if you have a water feature like a fountain or waterfall. Even in the more temperate climate of the Albany, Saratoga and Schenectady area, water levels can drop significantly, so check your water level regularly and top it off if necessary.
Balance Bacteria Levels
Of course, summer is the growth season for plants and flowers, but this also means that algae will be growing as well. One of the most important elements of pond care is making sure that the bacteria levels in your pond remain balanced so that algae growth doesn’t get out of hand, resulting in large and unsightly algae blooms.
You can stay on top of this by avoiding cleaning the filter pads of your biological filter system. With biological filters, algae destroying bacteria can build up on those pads and clearing them off gives the algae free rein to keep growing.
Control What Your Fish Eat
Equally important in terms of keeping the natural balance in your pond is maintaining proper oxygenation. Keeping the water level up is one part of that process; the other is controlling how much your fish eat. Over feeding can lead to oxygen depletion, which can also encourage algae blooms. The general rule of thumb for summer pond maintenance is to feed your fish in the morning and not to give them more than they can eat within a couple of minutes. Uneaten food will decay faster in the heat of the summer sun and end up polluting the pond.
Maintain Plant Life In and Around Pond
Aside from managing the water and fish, the other important part of pond care in the summer is maintaining the plant life in and around your pond. Like the fish, the plants contribute to proper oxygenation and to maintaining the necessary bacteria levels. As such it is important to have a decent amount of plant life in your pond area. But it is also important to keep those plants healthy, so you should regularly deadhead and clear out any old growth to keep nutrient levels down and avoid algae blooms.
Water lilies are one of the best choices for any pond as they not only look and smell beautiful but also provide natural shade and hiding places for fish and other aquatic creatures. Most experts recommend that you cover at least a third of the pond’s surface with water lilies. You can also add marginal plants around the water’s edge, both for aesthetic purposes and to add to the health of the pond environment. Including these plants in your pond can actually go a long way toward making summer pond maintenance easier.
As with any plants in your garden, simply planting and pruning water lilies and other aquatic plants isn’t enough when it comes to pond care. You also need to fertilize your water lilies to encourage regular blooming throughout the growth season. You may also need to add bacteria to the water at regular intervals to stem the growth of algae, and you should be careful to control run off from the rest of your lawn and garden. Fertilizer from these areas can cause a surge of nutrients in the pond that promote algae growth.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as relaxing and enjoying your backyard pond, and there’s no better time to do so than the summer. Stay on top of your summer pond maintenance with tips like these, and you and your whole family will be able to sit back and relax with the perfect pond experience. Don’t let pond maintenance become a chore; get out and enjoy that summer sun and the beautiful water environment that you’ve created!