Seasonal Care for Your Water Garden
As soon as the outside temperature begins to warm up you can remove the netting from winterizing your water garden. Remove the heater and replace it with the pump.
The aquatic plants in your water garden should begin to come back to life and begin putting on new growth. This should happen around mid-spring.
If you have fish in your water garden it’s time to start feeding them again. Don’t over feed your fish; the leftover food will sink to the bottom and rot. Instead, use a net to scoop out the food that isn’t eaten within 10 minutes. This will keep your water garden in good shape.
Spring is also a good time to clean dead and rotting leaves that have accumulated during the winter, especially if you didn’t winterize with netting.
In mid to late spring you can add new plants. Some plants will probably die out in the winter and need to be replaced, and some may not have thrived as well as you had hoped. Pay attention to see which plants come back and which ones don’t.
If you start seeing a lot of algae this time of year, you can add a barley straw pad to your water garden. These can be found in most garden retail stores or nurseries and will help fight algae.
Summer is a good time to thin and divide over grown plants. The days should be warm enough that thinning them out won’t over-shock them.
Summer may bring on your biggest problems.
Pests may start to invade. You can use a water hose to remove them from lily pads.
If you remove dead leaves and debris, rake them to the edge of the water and let them sit for a few hours. This will allow any beneficial pond life time to make their way back to the water.
You will need to keep your water level in check this time of year and add more as it evaporates.
Keep the filter on your pump cleaned as well to avoid any blockage.
If you’re experiencing a lot of summer thunderstorms you may notice the fish gasping for air on the surface. You can help this problem by keeping your water garden oxygenated. This can be done by spraying water across the surface. Another consideration is to add a fountain that will shoot water up into the air. Creating bubbles in a pond adds oxygen to the water.
This is the time of year that leaves will start to turn and fall from the trees. Daily leaf cleanings may be necessary. Preparing for winterization should also begin in autumn.
You should cut back the marginal plants so the tops are above the waters surface and remove any tender, delicate plants. These can be winterized in a bucket of pond water and placed in a greenhouse to avoid frost and freezing, but they need to be kept cool.
You may begin to feed the fish a higher protein food to help them survive the winter months when they won't be fed.
Late fall or when the temperature starts to drop off will be the time to remove the pump and replace it with the heater. A pond heater will not keep the water extremely warm but will prevent it from completely freezing solid.
If you've kept up with all the maintenance during autumn, the winter season will need little care or attention. If you have netting material, cover your water garden for the winter. This will reduce the amount of leaves getting into the pond.
If you don’t have netting you will need to spend time in the winter months removing the leaves and debris.
It's not always possible to prevent a water garden from freezing over during a cold winter. But if it does happen to freeze or develops a layer of ice on top, you can try melting a hole through the ice with a pan of hot water. Never try to break the ice with a hammer. Using a hammer could shock your fish.
If this option doesn't work, you may want to drain or siphon a few inches of water from underneath the ice. This will create an air pocket between the ice and water and keep the remaining water from freezing.
Having a water garden or pond adds tremendous beauty to your landscape, but remember, even if it becomes self-sustaining, it will still require routine maintenance and care.
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