Pond Maintenance: Get Your Pond Ready for Summer!

2 Materials
$0
3 Hours
Easy

Opening up the pond for the season is a dirty job. But somebody has to do it – and thankfully, it’s not me! Someone has to be behind the camera 🙂


Flashback to last Fall: we tie off the grass (to be cut down in the Spring) and cover the pond to protect it from the elements. This is how we leave it over the winter:

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

The Unveiling


It’s been an unusually cold and rainy Spring. Finally, two days ago Hubs hightailed it home early to take advantage of a rare break in the dreary weather. Off comes the plywood and the foam insulation that keeps the water in the pond from completely freezing and cracking the liner.

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

Tools of the Trade


Initial must-haves for this messy job are rubber gloves, a mask (good thing there’s no smell-o-vision!), scrub brush, pond skimmer, rags and a pump of course to drain what has become a motley brew of algae and bacteria.

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

Pump it Up – and Out!


Hubs starts by skimming off as much leave litter as he can to prevent the pump from clogging. We may have discovered the cure for cancer in that concoction, but we’ll never know! Then he sets the pump into the pond and turns his attention to the front pond while the back one drains.

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

Keep a Watchful Eye


Keep an eye on the pump to ensure that the level of the water doesn’t get too low; you don’t want to take a chance of burning out the motor!

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

At the second stage of the process, you’ll need several buckets (large and small) and a jug with a handle to scoop. Hubs cut out a larger hole in the jug to get out the last vestiges of pond water.


Scrub-a-Dub


Now the pump comes out and the gruelling work really begins. When it gets to the point where the water level is too low for the pump (or too much debris on the bottom), you have to dump the buckets by hand.


Hubs hand bombs the shallow water into a bucket using his ‘upcycled’ scoop. I stopped counting at 10 buckets of algae-ridden water! Is it any wonder I can’t stomach ‘green’ drinks?!

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

Hubs mops up every last bit of water at the bottom and squeezes it into a smaller pail, which then gets transferred into the larger one.

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

Rinse and Repeat


The liner is hosed down with fresh water. A scrub sponge is then used to wipe down the bottom and sides of the liner to remove the last of the algae: we don’t use any kind of cleaning solution at all to keep chemicals to a minimum.


A new rag is used to wipe up the remaining water.

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

Finally, I can breathe through my nose again without gagging! Then the process of refilling the pond begins. We aim to fill the pond to around the 3/4 mark.This time of year, mother nature will do the rest.

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

Once the water is at a decent level, the pump can go in. In the early iteration of our pond, we used to have a more elaborate set-up with a bowl centre-piece but as we’ve gotten older it was becoming too heavy to haul in and out each year. Now, we keep it simple with our configuration.


If you haven’t read the post on how we DIY’d two versions of this pond, for this iteration Hubs attached the pump to the top of a milk crate we purchased from a local grocery store. The underside is weighed down by two stainless steel rods strapped to the side with plastic ties (head to our blog to see pictures).


The fountain is set in place, the crate is lowered into the pond and centred.


Our Own Fountain of Youth


It’s not the fountain of youth in the fokelore sense by any means: I’m not suggesting that we drink from it! But it’s a fountain of youth in the sense that at least it’s keeping Hubs limber!


The cord gets plugged into a post where our electrical is attached, which practically becomes hidden later in the season once the grasses grow.

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

The Secret to Keeping Algae at Bay


When we visited the botanical gardens in Naples we asked them how they maintain their gorgeous pond and they shared a key step with us.

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

Ever since then, to help keep algae to a minimum we add a  non-toxic blue dye to the water. If it works for the huge expansive pond at the botanical gardens, it’ll work for small ponds too! It works by filtering out the sunlight which makes it harder for algae to develop.


Because this stuff is super concentrated, we have to be careful that we don’t drip it on the surrounding patio stones! To further suppress algae growth, Hubs comes back in the evening and adds another additive to the water to further clarify the pond. I know I’ll get questions about what he uses, so I’ll be sure to update this post.


The last step is to clean the pump with fresh water.

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

Finally, Hubs cleans his boots, gloves and buckets with an all-natural product. It’s specially formulated to kill gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria in just 30 seconds. That, and the fact that it doesn’t require rinsing, makes it the quickest part of the whole process! Head to our blog to see our new favourite ecologically friendly germ-killer.


Fast forward later in the Spring, after we’ve power washed and the plants start to grow:

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

The blue dye not only keeps algae at bay, it’s also quite attractive to look at!


With a bit of work up-front, it’s all worth it in the end! The payoff is we get to enjoy our little piece of urban oasis for the rest of the season!


If you'd like to see the live footage of the transformation of our little garden oasis, be sure to watch the brief video posted above!

pond maintenance get your pond ready for summer

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Suggested materials:

  • Rubber gloves  (big box store)
  • Plastic bucket  (big box store)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • CapnChaos
    on May 17, 2019

    Since you don't mention fish, why do you not drain & clean in the fall? That's when we take care of cleaning the fountain, pump, hoses, etc. So, when it's time to get it open for spring, it is a quick process. And NO smell or awful growth to deal with.

    • Birdz of a Feather
      on May 17, 2019

      We leave water so the liner doesn’t crack over the winter (that’s why we use the foam board). Water will get in there no matter what you do in the fall with winter runoff and spring rain so we don’t bother to do it twice. It comes down to preference.

  • Carolyn Martin
    on May 17, 2019

    We have goldfish in our little pond. Will the blue dye harm them? We've been using a UV filter, but even with that algae seems to grow. Thanks for any advice.

  • Nancy Justice
    on May 17, 2019

    Where did you buy the 2 faces with sunglasses

Join the conversation

4 of 8 comments
  • Debbie
    on May 19, 2019

    I love it.

  • Lisa West
    on May 24, 2019

    I remember your blog on the build. So happy for you guys. I made a pond year ago at my old house. It was fun. I used all the big rocks and little rocks in the area as well as flat slate rocks. I did a water fall. I placed it under an oak tree. The frogs loved it. So did the neighbors . Any ways why sont you guys drain the pond when the season ends. There is some chemical al that keeps the rubber from cracking over the winter. I just dont remember what it is. You can also run it in the winter to. Flowing water doesnt freeze. Add salt. We did it one year. Look pretty during the holidays with lights lights lights.

    • Birdz of a Feather
      on May 24, 2019

      Thanks Lisa! We try to stay away from using too many chemicals and prefer to keep it natural. The foam prevents freezing too and doesn't take any electricity to run :) Hubs used to drain the Fall but then would have to clean it again in the Spring; things still migrate into the pond no matter how well you cover it!


      I can imagine how pretty it must look during the holidays! Do you get snow in the winter where you are? I'd love to see a picture of your pond: if you have one, attach it here :)

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