Autumn has arrived once again, and with the change in seasons, it’s the time of the year when pond owners should consider fall pond care. At Healthy Ponds, we have a few tips that can ensure your pond is ready for the winter months and as healthy as possible in the coming spring.
1. Don’t “Leave” The Leaves
Autumn provides us with an explosion of color, and as much as we appreciate the beauty of the season, there’s no getting around the fact that the plethora of fallen leaves can be quite a mess.
Bagging up the leaves is one option, and some cities and towns will even pick up the leaves. In some cases, cities might even offer leaf vacuuming services. Additionally, you can gather the leaves and transport them to your local green waste facility, where they can be used to make compost or mulch.
We also encourage people to consider creating a large compost pile or purchasing some compost bins. You can turn those leaves into nutritious compost that will feed your garden and flower beds in the spring. Using a compost accelerator, such as our Dr. Connie’s Compost Plus will transform your leaves and debris into compost quickly with very little work on your part.
2. Skim, Skim, Skim
No matter how many leaves you bag up or place in your compost heap, the wind will likely carry quite a few leaves into your pond. Skimming your pond every day can reduce the number of leaves and this will benefit the health of your pond. When leaves and debris sink to the bottom of a pond, they will add to your sludge layer and a thick sludge layer can affect the quality of your pond water.
If you have a small decorative water garden or koi pond, make it easy on yourself and use pond netting or a pond cover. This can greatly reduce your fall pond maintenance tasks, and you can concentrate on some of our other pond care tips.
3. Remove The Weeds
If you have aquatic weeds, these invasive species can lessen the quality of your pond water. But, as you may have noticed, these weeds can be quite hardy and even if you rake out or remove the weeds, they grow back with a vengeance. Using herbicides can kill these weeds, but herbicides aren’t available for use in some states.
If you live in a state where herbicide use is prohibited or you simply don’t wish to use chemicals in your pond, early fall can be an ideal time for mechanical removal. Weeds like many other plants propagate faster during the warmer spring and summer months. Remove them in the fall, and they will be much less likely to propagate. Whenever possible, we recommend removing the entire root system and bagging up these plants carefully and disposing of them far from your pond.
4. Trim Back Beneficial Plants
Beneficial plants can help strengthen your shoreline and prevent erosion, but even these shoreline and aquatic plants can become overgrown. Fall is an ideal time to prune these plants as they are moving into a dormant state. If you have floating plants, you can either dispose of the plants or store them indoors, perhaps in a barn or shed where they will be safe from freezing temperatures.
5. Vacuum Or Dredge The Pond
If you have a small pond, a pond vacuum can be used to remove any sludge at the bottom of the pond as well as other debris. If you have a larger pond, fall can be a good time to consider having your pond dredged.
Not all ponds require dredging, but if your pond has a thick sludge layer or you’ve noticed that the pond is becoming shallower, this is an indication that there is too much pond sludge. Likewise, if you have an abundance of plants but the number of aquatic wildlife in your pond is dropping, this is a sign that dredging is needed.
Additionally, if your pond is prone to foul odors and floating green organic matter, a heavy layer of pond muck also can be a contributor to this issue and having the pond dredged in the fall can help prevent these issues in the future.
6. Prepare Your Fish Population
As the water temperatures begin to drop, your fish will need less food. Too much food can cause many serious issues. Once water temperatures drop below 55 degrees, the fish metabolisms begin to slow down and feeding too much can cause fish food to remain in their digestive tract and decay. Excess food waste and fish waste also will sink to the bottom of the pond and add to the sludge layer.
In some areas of the country, you may need to stop feeding your fish. If your water temperatures stay consistently below 40 degrees, fish don’t need to be fed. We do highly recommend that you speak with a fish expert about how and when to feed your fish to ensure a healthy fish population.
In areas of the country where ponds freeze over, you may need to rehome fish, such as koi, but this depends on the size and depth of your pond. We always recommend that all ponds have an aerator installed because aeration can keep oxygen levels steady, and this can be just as important in the winter as in the summer. A deicer also might be needed in some areas of the country. Again, speak with a fish expert to determine the best ways to protect your fish during the winter months.
7. Add Some Beneficial Bacteria
Many pond owners added beneficial bacteria to their ponds throughout the year, as the water temperature in their ponds stays consistently above 50 degrees. However, even in areas of the country where water temperatures are cooler and even freeze, we recommend tossing an AquaSpherePRO® into your water once the temperatures drop below 50 degrees.
This ensures that your pond will have plenty of beneficial bacteria on hand once the water temperatures increase in the spring. The AquaSpherePRO® is a biodegradable sphere filled with beneficial bacteria for ponds. These bacteria consume excess nutrients in your pond which can help prevent the rapid accumulation of floating organic matter as well as reduce your sludge layer.
Once the weather begins to become warmer in the spring and early summer, you can add AquaSpherePRO® to the water every 30 days to ensure that there are enough beneficial bacteria. We also recommend adding our Natural Blast® product at the start of your warm season to give your water a jump start and provide a healthy dose of beneficial bacteria in case the temperatures spike.
At Healthy Ponds, we offer an assortment of all-natural pond treatment products to keep your pond clean and healthy throughout the year, as well as some all-natural lawn and garden products to improve the quality of your lawn, garden, flowers and fruit trees. Additionally, we also offer free water treatment plans for any size of water feature at https://healthyponds.com/free-pond-plan/. If you are experiencing any type of pond water quality issue, our team of experts is always here to help.