Pond Maintenance by the Season

Published on February 24, 2024

As the seasons change throughout the year, all life adjusts in unique ways. Of course, the scope and magnitude of seasonal changes vary depending on the different locations and climates all over the world. As Shakespeare once said, “How many things by season season’d are, to their right praise and true perfection!”

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Each season brings new challenges maintaining life. These seasonal rhythms affect all aspects of your pond as well. It is imperative that a pond keeper understands seasonal pond maintenance. Every part of the ecosystem of the pond is life that must be maintained for its survival. The water, microscopic life, fish, and aquatic and bordering plants must all be considered according to climate changes.

Depending on the significance of the climate change, pond maintenance by the season will differ. In a more drastic change of season, the maintenance falls to almost nothing. The fish will move to the deepest part of the pond and huddle together because the earth helps warm them.

Winter pond maintenance

In the early fall, you should feed your fish a bit extra because they are preparing for winter hibernation. Be sure to monitor the water temperature. A pond water thermometer is priceless for proper pond care. When the water temperature drops below 50˚F, you no longer need to feed the fish. If the temperature of the pond rises above 50˚F, you can feed your fish wheat germ. If your pond freezes over, the fish can die from lack of oxygen.

It is a good idea to get a floating de-icier to keep an area of the pond free of ice. This will allow for an exchange of gases. Do not break the ice! If you do, the shock waves can possibly kill your fish.

Spring pond maintenance

In the spring, your pond water begins to warm, and you see your pond coming back to life. This is an important time to pick up on the maintenance routine to prepare the water, fish and other aquatic life for warmer weather.

Anything you did to prepare your pond for winter can be undone now. Turn your pump back on if you did not have it running. It is time to start feeding your fish again. Make sure that you start out feeding them cold-weather food if the water temperature is a constant 50˚F. Once the water temperature reaches 60˚F, you can begin the full season feeding program.

It is spring and time to “garden” your pond. You should clear away all the dead leaves and debris that have accumulated over the winter. You can use a skimmer type of net to do this, and it will allow you to scoop up leaves on the bottom of the pond. There are products that will hasten the natural process of decomposition of this debris. A pond vacuum can be used to remove debris and muck from the bottom of the pond. You should use a cleaning system that does not remove much of the water. As the weather continues to warm, you can add appropriate plants according to the warming process.

Summer pond maintenance

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

There is something about summertime that brings out the beauty of all living things. Your pond, perfectly maintained, can be the peaceful, magical place of beauty to retreat to where the only sounds necessary are those of the water and creatures around it. The key word to make your pond that place is “maintained” — all the aquatic life fully awake, active and growing. The fish need to be fed between one and three times per day. Do not overfeed them. Feed the fish no more than they can eat in five minutes.

All the methods of maintaining a healthy pond are in full swing. With the warm weather, nuisances like algae will take over if not controlled. It is important to maximize your aeration. Warm water holds less oxygen, yet the fish use more oxygen in warm water. There must be plenty of aeration going 24 hours a day, all seven days of the week.

Not only is weed and algae control important, but pest control is also at its peak in the summer. Critters from land, air and water will find their way to your pond and claim it as theirs if not controlled. The water quality is the single most important aspect of a healthy pond.  Natural waters are never pure, though, because water is a powerful solvent. Water dissolves at least a portion of every gas or solid it contacts, and some of these dissolved substances affect the water’s pH. Pond water should have adequate levels of alkalinity and hardness for the species under culture, and those levels should not be widely disproportionate. Biological condition through beneficial bacteria, appropriate aquatic plants and fish will maintain the quality of your pond water. Filtration with sand, wetlands and the use of a biofilter are very beneficial to water quality.

Summer may be the busiest time for a pond keeper, but it can also be the most enjoyable when your pond is well maintained.

Fall pond maintenance

The vibrant colors of fall are stunning. Unfortunately, those beautiful colors end up floating on top of your pond. With the temperatures beginning to drop, it is time to switch to cold-temperature beneficial bacteria and reduce your fish-feeding regimen.

With each new season comes a different method of pond maintenance. Make your life a lot easier by thinning out your aquatic plants in the fall instead of waiting until the end of winter! During the winter, your aquatic plants focus all their energy on their root system mass. Your aquatic plants may turn yellow or brown as they go dormant. They are not dying. Trim back the yellow and brown to prevent debris from building in the bottom of your pond.

Those beautiful, colorful leaves that are floating on your pond will decay and throw off the ecological balance of your water. It is important to remove them from the pond to avoid that consequence. You can use a net to skim them off of the top of the pond as they fall. This can become a tedious daily chore. Skimmers are not designed for this much debris. Heavy leaf fall can clog a skimmer several times a day. The most efficient way to maintain the removal of so many leaves would be to install leaf netting. You should reduce the circulation of the pond water when the temperature drops into the 40s. You should also turn down the water flow.

The importance of pond maintenance by the season

In order to have a pond that is beautiful and healthy year-round, one must understand the seasonal maintenance needs. Education is key. Get to know the needs of your pond and aquatic life so that as each season comes and goes, you have your beautiful, peaceful place of nature to enjoy!

About the author

Patrick Simmsgeiger is the founder and president of Diversified Waterscapes Inc. He is a licensed aquatic pesticide applicator, landscape contractor and certified lake manager. Patrick is also an expert in all stages of aquatic treatment, from product development and manufacturing to application and treatment. He specializes in watershed and water-quality management in lakes and reservoirs.

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