Springtime Pond Changes
Although bacteria and plants don't start growing properly until water temperature reaches 55°F, there are still some simple steps you can take to maintain a crystal clear, trouble-free pond.
We recommend using Aquascape Maintain for Ponds. We have been using this 3 in 1 (Beneficial Bacteria/ Phosphate Binder for Algae/ Pond Flocculent for cloudy water) Pond Water Treatment in our own Display Ponds for over two years and are thrilled with the way our ponds behave! We started recommending it to our pond clients in 2018 and they have been similarly pleased with the results.
SAB™ and EcoBlast™ water treatments may also be used early in the season. SAB contains a powerful phosphate binder to help maintain clear water and EcoBlast is an extremely effective algaecide. Both of these products can be used throughout the season, but they are especially effective helping maintain optimum water conditions until water warms up and the beneficial bacteria and aquatic plants have the opportunity to kick in.
Fertilizing pond plants is also an important step toward balancing your pond. Strong healthy plants quickly utilize excess nutrients. Aquascape has two fertilizers, one short-term and one long-term. For optimal results use both fertilizers. The short-term fertilizer will jumpstart your plants in the spring and the long-term fertilizer will continue to feed your plants for one full year. Not only will you have beautiful vibrant lush plants, you will also have crystal clear water quality without the need to use potentially harmful algaecides that will not only disrupt the balance of your pond, but can also have harmful effects on fish, plants, and invertebrates. This short-term gain certainly comes with long-term pain.
Algae don’t mind cool water, but for the rest of your pond’s ecosystem, 55 ° F is kind of the magic number. The plants and bacteria don’t jump into action, in the battle of the green monster, until the water temperature reaches, and consistently stays, around 50° to 55° F. At this time they start growing and are then able to use up the excess nutrients that the algae would otherwise be feasting on. This is the reason for the feared spring algae bloom.
While growing, aquatic plants absorb a lot of the nutrients in the water, and this helps combat algae growth. Until they are actively growing, they have no use for the natural fertilizer lurking in the pond. But as they begin growing, they will naturally start to out-compete the algae for nutrients, the algae will be starved, and the pond water will become clearer. Another benefit that plants provide, particularly water lilies, is that they shade the surface of the water helping to keep the water cool all well cutting down on the growth of string algae as well as green water.
Bacteria also need warmer water to begin growing and colonizing, helping to provide crystal clear water quality as well as reducing maintenance. You can help jumpstart the pond in the spring by adding supplemental bacteria such as Aquascape Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds, and providing it with a place to colonize. Since bacteria like lots of nooks and crannies, having rocks and gravel in the bottom of your pond will help provide surface area for bacteria to grow. If you can’t, or don’t want to add rocks and gravel to the bottom of your pond, you’ll have less surface area for bacteria to colonize. A biological filter containing a filtration media like Aquascape BioBalls®, with lots of surface area provides optimum conditions for biological filtration in the smallest space possible. The more surface area available for bacteria to grow, the more efficient your biological filter. Providing crystal clear water quality creates less problems, thereby lessening maintenance, which leaves more time to enjoy the pond and less time spent maintaining it.
Fish are also sensitive to water temperature, and as it warms up, you will see more activity, and be tempted to feed them. You’ve missed your fish all winter, but until the water temperature is consistently at 55° F, don’t feed them. Their metabolism is still in slow motion and they are unable to digest the food properly. If you do feed them and food cannot be digested, this can result in food starting to decay in the body of the fish causing fish to become sick and possibly resulting in their death. When you do start feeding them, begin with small amounts of a quality fish food formulated for colder water temperature, such as Aquascape Premium Coldwater Fish Food Pellets for all pond fish.
Pond Patience Please…
You need “Pond Patience”. If you’ve stocked your pond with plenty of plants, the temperature’s just right, and you’ve started supplementing with Aquascape Maintain for Ponds, your pond will quickly balance. Beneficial bacteria need to be added to a consistent maintenance routine to obtain optimal results. Resist the urge to add traditional algaecides as your pond will never become truly balanced, and often ponds become dependent on their use. Help support Mother Nature with use of natural products -your pond and the environment will thank you!
Here in Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut, your pond might be showing the first signs of thawing … or it may be several weeks or so before that happens. No matter your geographic location, here are some tips to follow when your pond begins to thaw.
Spring brings robins, longer days and, of course, our fish pond and water garden displays at the Western Mass Home Show 2019 (March 28-31). Stop by and visit with the “pond guys” at Booth 301 in the Better Living Center on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA.
We will be showing off a new 360 degree Fountainscape and, of course, our eco-system pond complete with fish and aquatic plantings.
Home and Garden Shows provide a great opportunity for you to get new ideas to help make your indoor and outdoor living spaces more enjoyable for you and your family. Learn more about the Western Mass Home Show here
You will also enjoy meeting members of the Pioneer Valley Water Garden & Koi Club in the Home Building. Learn more about the Club, monthly meeting topics and information about our annual Pioneer Valley Pond Tour!
OR EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WETLAND FILTERS, BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK!
If spring and fall are the seasons when most pond lovers are actively working on or playing in their ponds, then the long cold winter months of winter are the time of year when many of us sit back and think about the kinds of things we can do next season to transform our beautiful aquatic paradise into an even more special place.
Winter is the season for dreaming
So sit back, close your eyes, put your feet up, take a deep breath and picture those places you’ve experienced that come closest to perfection. Have these experiences taken place along side a raging river or thunderous waterfall in Colorado, Montana or the Adirondacks of New York? Do you picture a more tropical locale like Jamaica, Bermuda or Key West?
Most importantly, what can you glean from these images that you can now take and duplicate in your own back yard, in order to create the paradise of your dreams?
The possibilities are endless, but the first thought for many pond owners is increasing the size of their pond. The most common pond owners complaint about their existing pond is that it’s too small As a matter of fact, industry statistics show that, on average, water gardening lovers have three different ponds in their lifetime, each larger than the last. If this sounds like you and your pond, the initial question has to be: “Is there enough room in my yard to expand?” Other points to ponder when thinking of enlarging your pond are the size of your biological filter and the volume of water your existing pump can move.
More Splash in Your Life
What if your pond is as big as the yard allows? The part of the pond that always gets the most attention is the waterfall and stream. Will reworking the current waterfalls and streams give you a more dramatic or more natural feature? Would you prefer to add another waterfall or stream to make things more interesting, more exotic and just a little closer to perfection?
Another possibility is to rework the pond edges. Do you picture larger character boulders or a “sitting rock” where you can relax while enjoying your fish and plants?
As your koi grow, are their fish caves large enough to provide shelter from herons and other hungry predators?
Light Up Your World
Most of us are well aware of the importance of landscape and pond lighting in making a great pond even more intriguing. Will additional lighting provide you with an even more dramatic experience? Consider the use of low voltage, LED or fiber optic lighting as a way to upgrade your landscape.
The Missing Ingredient
Maybe your quite content with your current feature, but would like to see and hear moving water in another portion of your yard or from another window in your home. A second pond or a pondless waterfall may be the answer. Now is the time to plan for this new project. Make a list of everything you love about your pond and also include things you would do differently the second time around.
If your pond is perfect just the way it is, what is the missing ingredient? Do you envision a stone patio contoured along pond’s edge as a place to spend quality time? Would a bridge or decorative bench complete the picture? Is a gazebo or pergola the answer for a cool spot out of the searing summer sun? Would a new landscape featuring plants that attract song birds and butterflies or plants that create a more private, quiet spot for you and your family to escape the demands of our modern world be the answer?
Remember, you have to dream it before you can build it, and winter is for dreaming!
I am taking a short break from digging out of the “Blizzard of 2017” to let you know that Picture Perfect Ponds will be bringing Spring to Booth# 301 in the Better Living Center at the Eastern States Exposition March 23-26.
Spring is just around the corner here in the Western Massachusetts & Northern Connecticut region of the northeast, and before you know it you will be outside enjoying the weather and all the wonder and excitement of your beautiful pond again, which brings us to the topic of preparing your pond for Spring and the upcoming season. We recommend that your pond receive a full professional cleaning at least once, on occasion twice per year to help maintain its low maintenance and beautiful appearance. Failure to perform an annual clean out could result in increased maintenance or fish health issues.
All customers receive a custom price quote for their clean out. If we have serviced your pond in the past or if we installed your pond we can give you a cost for your cleaning once you have contacted us. If you are a new customer we will require a Pond Profile to familiarize ourselves with your pond and to give you an accurate Spring Pond Maintenance price. If you would like to hire Picture Perfect Ponds to perform your spring maintenance services, please fill out the Pond Maintenance Form to receive your clean out Pricing, or a Pond Profile.
On Pond clean out day, be sure to have your garden hose outside, waterfall pump(s) and other components readily available and your water garden electrical outlet turned on.
Picture Perfect Ponds now gets down & dirty with your water feature! We will drain the water (temporarily housing the Fish if you have them). The next step is to give the water feature a quick pressure washing and rinse (we don’t want to remove every bit of the beneficial Bio-Film). Once washed down they will trim back and fertilize aquatic plants, check and replace underwater light bulbs or fixtures, re-adjust rocks & gravel and finally install the waterfall pump. When all of this is finished, they will begin refilling the water feature (and re-introducing your fish if you have them). Any requested water treatment products will be left for you.