Pond Maintenance: Get Your Pond Ready for Summer!

2 Materials
3 Hours

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:

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.


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?!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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!

Thinking about adorning your outside space this summer? Check out Birdz of a Feather's outdoor projects.

Get your DIY mojo on and subscribe to Birdz of a Feather!  You can also follow us on social media (copy & paste in browser):

Pinterest: http://bit.ly/BirdzPIN

Facebook: http://bit.ly/BirdzFB

YouTube: http://bit.ly/BirdzYT

Instagram: http://bit.ly/BirdzIG

(You'll also find links to follow us at the top of this post).

Suggested materials:

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

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

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  3 questions
  • CapnChaos 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.

  • Carolyn Martin 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 Nancy Justice on May 17, 2019

    Where did you buy the 2 faces with sunglasses


Join the conversation

2 of 10 comments
  • Pam Fries Pam Fries on May 17, 2020

    I have also dealt with cleaning a pond every spring and for the most part, do the same as you- however, once you are no longer able to use the pump and there are a few inches of water left at the bottom of the pond, I bring out a shop vac and suck out the remaining water ( and leaves ) with that - so much easier than the lifting of buckets. I also stopped covering my pond every year because it was always full again in the spring. I now just throw a few empty plastic containers in it in the fall to prevent it from freezing solid ( and I am in the Buffalo area, so we get some brutal winters ) Setting up a pond is definitely a pain, but hopefully this will help make it a bit easier !!

  • Barb Barb on May 17, 2020

    Wow I first thought what job, but after seeing the end result your yard looks like an Oassis and so tranquil. While having stay at home order this will be music to your ears. Super job😊👊🏼👏🏼💡❤️😷