Fall Pond Maintenance

Fall pond maintenance is an absolute necessity for healthy plants and fish year ’round. Fallen leaves clog your filters and rot, leaching the chemicals into the water, poisoning fish and other aquatic creatures. Pond plants that are dying back naturally due to cooler water and air temperatures can cause chemical imbalances that are lethal to the critters in your pond. And, fish in the wild naturally reduce the amount of food they hunt in the fall and winter months. Your expensive koi can’t swim away from the food you give them, so it just settles to the bottom of your pond, making a deadly and gaseous mess.

With a just an hour or two and less than $50, you can do your fall pond maintenance, and save, equipment, fish and the design of your pond!

� Start by skimming dead leaves and debris from the surface of your pond, and be sure to clean up fallen leaves around the edge and in marginal and bog areas.

If necessary, purchase an inexpensive leaf net and secure in place over your pond until the leaves have all fallen. Another use for a leaf net covering your pond is to discourage herons, raccoons and opossums from dipping their toes (or beaks) in and dining on your fish. I learned this lesson the hard way, after coming out to my favorite pond early one fall morning, and finding a trail of fish bones through the yard. The fish had stranded themselves in the shallow edge of the pond, and made a sumptuous meal for the great blue heron standing there in the corner of the yard, gloating – and, full.

Okay, the next tip isn’t really pond maintenance, but it is extremely important!

� Feed your fish less! Less food and a lower protein level.

They won’t starve, I promise. They naturally slow down during the cooler months, and don’t need as much food. Fish have a great natural metabolic regulation system, and feeding them the same amount of food that you fed them during their active spring and summer seasons will kill them. Read the labels on the bulk fish foods available in your area. Choose a lower protein food for the fall and winter months. The leftover sludge on the bottom of the pond will be less, the fish won’t be so bloated and lethargic, and your filter equipment won’t have to work quite so hard.

When considering a healthy fall pond maintenance plan, don’t forget your equipment!

� Filters, pumps, and underwater lights need to be thoroughly inspected, cleaned, and lubricated, where applicable.

Your fall pond maintenance should include all mechanical components of your pond. A thorough inspection and replacement of worn or non-functioning parts now, will insure that your pond comes back healthy and quickly in the spring.

Many ponds are designed with bog or marginal areas, to give a more natural appearance and function, and most pond owners love lilies, so let’s talk about your plants and fall pond maintenance. The Yellow Nymphaea water lily is an awesome generally hardy lily, it thrives in most climates, and even survives winter in many, but with a little care, even more delicate tropical plants can survive fall, and maybe even winter.

� Trim dead and dying foliage from your water plants

� Remember to trim back and clean up marginals and bog plants during fall pond maintenance, after the blooms have stopped.

� Sink the entire trimmed lily in its pot, to the deepest part of your pond, for the most chance it will survive the cool and cold weather.

� Any true tropical plants, such as lotus and water hyacinth, should be over-wintered inside, in a cool dark place, such as a corner of your garage.

So now, you have spent an hour or two on very important fall pond maintenance. Pull your lawn chair up to the edge and just enjoy your beautiful and healthy pond! You will be surprised how just a little time spent on fall pond maintenance can make your spring and summer enjoyment of your pond so much greater and so much more relaxed!

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