Springtime Pondering

Spring is an exciting time of the year, when trees begin to dress again, everywhere you look flowers are blooming, and best of all, your pond is waking up! It’s time to get outdoors and start shaping things up. This is your opportunity to check the reinforcement of the bank, and while you’re at it, reposition or repair those loose stones around the edge of the pond. Clean the drain if necessary and remove leaves from the netting (which may still be in place) or rotting leaves and muck off the bottom if there are any. This is also a great time to do an equipment check and get everything operating properly before the bio load gets too heavy. Make sure the electrical wiring and pump are in working order. When everything checks out you can start the filter or get the water circulating through the stream bed. Reconnect the submersible pump for the fountain or waterfall.

In March the first primulas and early bulbs bloom in the bog garden. Pond plants that weren’t cut back in the fall such as rushes, reeds, cattails and grasses should be trimmed before the start to show new shoots. If they’ve gotten ahead of you, be careful not to trim the new growth. If you’ve stored water lilies inside over the winter you can plant them again by placing them in the shallow water zone, and as soon as the leaves start to rise up above the water’s surface, move them into deeper water, bit by bit, until you have them where you want them.

April is usually the start of the water garden year. New water-lily pads have grown to the surface and the frogs are mating. If your fish have overwintered in the pond you can begin feeding them when they start coming to the surface – just a little every couple of days will do. This will normally occur when the water temperature rises above 54°F. Disease resistance is at its lowest ebb at this time of year and a mixed diet will help. Provide a few chopped up worms and daphnia as well as regular floating food. Any fish that have overwintered inside should not be moved outside until the pond water warms up to within 3-4°F of their aquarium water. Release them into the shallow water and let them seek out the deeper, colder water on their own.

Do not panic if your pond turns pea-soup green! This is because the algae is taking advantage of the nitrogen fertilizer that has accumulated in the pond over the winter and has started growing earlier than the plants. As soon as your plants get a good start a balance will be restored. A healthy pond will return to normal in a week or two.

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