How to Clean a Garden Pond

Your garden pond can easily become the main feature for creating a beautiful garden; becoming a home for aquatic wildlife and providing a picturesque garden all year round. However, ponds don’t just look beautiful by accident. If you want your pond and its inhabitants to thrive, flourish and to keep attracting wildlife, then you’re going to need to keep on top of cleaning it. Regular pond care and maintenance are both vital to the wellbeing of your pond’s water, ecosystem and inhabitants as well as making sure you have a full pond clean out when the time is right. Choosing the right time for a pond’s annual cleanout can have great benefits to its inhabitants; regular maintenance on top of this will ensure your hard work was worth it and will keep your pond in its best condition all year round.

Best Time To Clean A Pond

The best time for a thorough, full pond clean is usually Autumn as it is usually the least active time for your fish and other pond wildlife.

The best way to decide if your pond requires a full pond clean or if a general clean/tidy will suffice is by looking at the current state of your pond. If your pond has a large thick layer of sludge at the base, the water is dark and discoloured, and the pond environment has fallen into a state of disrepair, then a full-clean out will undoubtedly be the best course of action. You must spend time cleaning your pond regularly every month; this includes cleaning out the filter, removing any debris and checking for algae.

How To Clean A Pond With Fish In It

What Do You Need To Clean Your Pond

To clean your pond well you’ll need:

    • A Holding Tank/Large Bucket 
    • A Fish Net
    • An Algae Net
    • An aerator or Small Pond Pump
    • Pond Pliers
    • Pond Vac
  • Pond Treatments – Dechlorinator & Filter Starter

Now for our 5 easy steps to performing a full pond clean and keeping your pond healthy.

Step 1 – Removing Fish

To avoid causing the fish stress and injury, it’s important to remove them from the pond first. Begin by transferring some water from the pond into a suitable holding tank, such as a large bucket or plastic bin (depending on how many fish you have).

Continue by starting to drain the pond until approximately 12 inches are remaining. At this point, remove the fish from the pond and place them into your temporary container in a shaded area.

Add an aerator or a small pond pump into the container – if your pond is small and cleaning is minimal, your fish will be fine without one for a couple of hours. Make sure to place a net over the top of the tank to prevent the fish from jumping out.

Step 2 – Removing Plants

Removing pond plants is the next stage in the cleaning process. Trim any dead or damaged foliage and place plants into buckets of pond water for temporary storage. If necessary re-pot or divide marginal plants and lilies using suitable pond planting baskets and aquatic compost.

Step 3 – Emptying and Cleaning Your Pond

It’s now time to empty the rest of the water from your pond. We would suggest using a pond vacuum to remove any unwanted sludge and algae quickly and easily – If you do not possess a pond vac you can also bail or syphon the water from the base of the pond, or maybe it’s time to invest. A pond vac would make this step a lot easier. 

After you’ve removed the water, scrub any rocks to loosen the algae. You’ll also need to check over any pond pumps, skimmers and pond filtration units, giving them a thorough clean – making sure pond media is cleaned using pond water and that you’ve followed the specific instructions for your devices.

Tip: Your old pond water is a fantastic natural fertiliser for garden plants and vegetables!

Step 4 – How To Clean Pond Liner

Next, you need to spend some time cleaning the bottom and sides of the pond liner or preformed pond. Try not to scrub too hard at the pond liner as this can get rid of some of the wanted algae that have formed and will rid your pond of the healthy bacteria it benefits from. Instead, scrub parts of the liner at a time, breaking up unwanted algae without overworking it.

Once you’re happy that you’ve followed these steps to a cleaner pond, then you need to pump or bail out any remaining dirty water or debris, and you’re ready to refill.

Step 5 – Refilling Your Pond

When refilling a pond, we suggest adding pond treatments such as beneficial bacteria and enzymes to regulate the water and keep your pond as healthy as possible for longer periods.

During the refilling process, make sure to use a dechlorinator to remove harmful chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals which are contained in tap water. Once the pond is full, reintroduce your pond plants and fish to their freshly cleaned environment.

Pond Cleaning Treatments

Pond cleaning treatments can be a great addition to your maintenance routine; you can get treatments that aid in stopping blanket weeds, help eliminate sludge and which help keep the pH balance correct for the pond’s water – leading to a happy life for your fish. 

For the health of your pond’s inhabitants, you must read the instructions of your chosen pond treatment correctly. This stops you from causing any harm to your fish, wildlife and yourself and helps you clean your pond in the safest way. 

How To Keep A Pond Clean

We’ve put together a cohesive guide that will help make sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Follow our steps in the How To Keep A Pond Clean blog and keep your pond clean. By maintaining the right fish population, not overfeeding your fish, ensuring your filtration system is set up properly and regularly spending time to keep on top of your pond maintenance, you’ll be making the benefits of that huge, annual clean out last all year round.

It is so important to make sure you keep on top of your pond maintenance to stop it from building up and causing more long term issues for you. Make sure to venture out into the garden and periodically check your pond’s health! This includes the regular use of a pond testing kit to check Ammonia, Nitrite, pH and other important water parameters and make adjustments as necessary. If you’re not sure what regular maintenance looks like, then take a look at our blog Maintain and Care For Your Pond for all the best tips and tricks!

Have you had trouble cleaning your pond? Did you use our handy guide for help?

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