While the temperatures in the last few weeks (for most of the United States) have still been quite warm, winter weather is coming soon and that means it’s time for fall pond care! There are several autumn pond cleaning tasks that we recommend before your cold season officially begins, including the following.
- Remove Those Fall Leaves
Fall colors are amazing, but if you have a bunch of deciduous trees, it’s important to rake up these leaves and dispose of them as quickly as possible. These can easily flow into your pond, and eventually, they sink to the bottom and can create a sludge layer. Skim out as many leaves from your pond as you can, as well. For a small water feature, such as koi pond, it can be smart to use pond netting during the weeks when leaves are falling rapidly.
- Get Rid Of Weeds
It is highly recommended that you remove any weeds before these plants start to go dormant. After the summer season ends, weeds dry up and die off, and it might seem like the problem is solved, but that’s far from the truth. As they dry up, these weeds begin dropping seeds into your pond, which rest idly during the winter season and then begin to sprout up once the weather turns warm again.
If you can remove these weeds before they completely die, this is a great way to prevent issues in the following spring. Be sure to remove all of your cuttings as this debris will sink into the water and add to the sludge layer at the bottom of your pond.
- Trim Your Beneficial Plants
We always recommend that pond or lake owners plant a barrier of beneficial plants around the shoreline. This helps prevent excess runoff from entering your pond. While these plants are a big help for pond owners, they do need a bit of a trim in the fall or early winter. You’ll want to trim them to about 18 inches and be sure to dispose of any of the cuttings, as even beneficial plants can decompose and add to your sludge layer.
- Get Ridge Of Sludge
If you have a layer of sludge or muck, this is the perfect time to get rid of these excess nutrients. Sludge is typically formed from leaves, fish waste and other debris and can affect your water quality. If you have a small pond, you may be able to remove sludge using a pond vacuum. For larger ponds and small lakes, it might be necessary to call in a pro for pond muck removal, and while this can be expensive, it’s an important component of fall pond cleaning.
- Winter Care For Fish-Stocked Ponds
In the summer months, it’s common for the oxygen levels in ponds and lakes to drop. The warmer water temperatures create the perfect conditions for the rapid accumulation of floating organic matter and pond weeds, which cut off oxygen. However, oxygen levels also can drop in the winter months, and this can lead to fish kills. Generally, this is only an issue with ponds with a large ice cover.
Sometimes you might only have an ice cover for a few weeks, and generally, this isn’t a serious issue. However, if your area experiences a very cold winter, a hard ice layer can form and this ice (as well as subsequent snowfall on the ice layer) can cause oxygen levels to drop. If your pond typically has an ice layer, pond aeration can prevent oxygen issues. If you live in an area prone to long-term freezing temperatures, we highly recommend that you speak with a fish and wildlife expert about the best way to keep your fish safe during the winter months.
Should Your Stop Monthly Beneficial Bacteria Treatments?
At Healthy Ponds, we have several products that contain beneficial bacteria for ponds. These bacteria consume excess nutrients and help to prevent the rapid accumulation of organic green matter on the surface of your pond, and they also help to prevent the buildup of a sludge layer.
In some areas of the country, we recommend that you continue to use beneficial bacteria products throughout the year. If your water temperature doesn’t dip below about 45 degrees, it’s wise to treat the water throughout the year. This typically includes states in the Southern portion of the United States, where temperatures rarely fall below freezing for a consistent period of time.
In areas where water temperatures will remain consistently below 45 degrees for several months, you don’t always need to treat your water, Our pond treatment recommendations below show the typical months when you need to treat, but keep in mind, this is a general guide. Every winter is unique and sometimes the water temperatures never drop enough to cease treatment or perhaps your winter weather will begin or end later than the dates below.
Preventative Pond Care
If you do live in an area where year-round treatment isn’t a necessity, we recommend that you keep some of our beneficial bacteria products on hand in case of sudden temperature spikes and to prepare for the beginning of the warm season. Once the temperature in your pond starts heading into the high 50s or low 60s, it can be smart to start using our AquaSpherePRO® regularly.
AquaSpherePRO® are biodegradable spheres filled with beneficial bacteria. When you toss the spheres into your pond, they sink to the bottom and begin releasing bacteria. Each sphere releases bacteria for up to 30 days, and then you simply toss in new spheres.
AquaSpherePRO® (especially when combined with an aeration system) may prevent the growth of floating green organic matter and may help to reduce the sludge or muck at the bottom of your pond. However, at the beginning of your warm season, it is recommended that you provide your pond with additional beneficial bacteria support.
Our product Natural BLAST® is another beneficial bacteria that will give your pond water a boost. We recommend adding Natural BLAST® (along with AquaSpherePRO®) at the beginning of your warm season, after a significant rain event or any time temperatures spike. It’s also wise to add Natural BLAST® any time you begin to spot the presence of floating green organic matter.
Both AquaSpherePRO® and Natural BLAST® are veterinarian-approved, all-natural products that are safe for wildlife, fish, livestock, pets and people. Along with some basic pond cleaning tasks, using these products is often all you will need to do to keep your pond water balanced and healthy.
Let us know if you have any questions about AquaSpherePRO®, Natural BLAST® or any of our other products. If you need any help with pond care or common pond issues, we also offer free personalized pond treatment plans for any size water feature at https://healthyponds.com/free-pond-plan/.