When the days lengthen, temperatures rise and the air has that unmistakable balmy feel of spring, you may be eager to open your pond. Taking the proper steps to restart your pond after a long, cold winter is essential to keep your equipment in good working order and preserve a healthy water balance. With a good opening, your pond can thrive right from the first day of spring.
Easy Steps to Reopen Your Pond in Spring
Taking it slow and steady is key to opening your pond properly in spring. To get your pond lush and alive after a dormant winter…
Inspect the Pond and Surrounding Area
At the end of winter, check your pond and the area nearby for any fallen branches, frost upheaval, dead plants, loose pavers or other general damage that needs repair. Many of these tasks can be taken care of even before you open your pond, and will make the entire landscape look refreshed. At the same time, inspect the pond's liner for any tears or holes, and check your pond maintenance equipment such as skimmers, poles and other gear.
Clean Out as Much Debris as Possible
Minimize algae growth and avoid overloading your pond's filter first thing in the spring by removing as much dead material, fallen leaves, spent plants and sludge from your pond as possible. This includes vacuuming the bottom of the pond, pruning any dead leaves from aquatic plants and scrubbing any submerged pots.
Check Pumps and Filtration
As the water temperatures in your pond rise to 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to inspect any pumps and filters. Be sure they are clean and operating efficiently, and repair, replace or upgrade the equipment if necessary. At the same time, check any aerators, sprays, fountains or waterfalls to ensure they are also working well.
Test the Water Quality
Start testing your water quality in early spring to judge the amount of nitrates and ammonia, as well as the overall pH level. If necessary, partial water changes can help bring your pond back into a better balance, but make any water changes or other adjustments slowly and carefully to allow your aquatic ecosystem adequate time to compensate or you risk shocking plants and fish.
Consider Using Supplemental Bacteria
If your pond has lost much of its beneficial bacteria over a cold winter, you may wish to add nitrifying bacteria to the water as your water temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help as your pond eases out of dormancy, but it should be done slowly and gently to avoid any fast, dramatic changes.
Evaluate Fish Health
If koi or other fish are part of your pond, you will want to inspect the fish carefully in spring to be sure the population is healthy and not showing signs of injury or disease. Remove or replace dead fish, and begin feeding your fish sparingly as the water temperatures rise. Do not overfeed the fish, however, which will only promote algae growth. Take care to keep the stress to your fish minimal, since they can be much more vulnerable as they come out of dormancy.
Add Plants to the Pond
As the water temperature consistently remains above 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, you can begin to reintroduce hardy plants to the pond and position them where you'd like them to flourish through the spring and summer. Floating plants can be added when the water gets warmer as well, but be sure there is no risk of late spring frosts or freezes before you add more delicate plants to the pond.
Once you've added plants to your pond, you're ready to enjoy the beauty of your aquatic ecosystem all spring long. By following the proper procedures to open your pond in spring, you can easily appreciate its beauty and diversity in the weeks and months ahead.