Keep your pond the sparkling gem of your landscape design with proper care.

Everyone seems to love it when the temperatures start to warm and gardens come to life in the springtime. Even the fish in ornamental water features slowly break their semi-dormant stupor and become energized.

Ornamental ponds can look truly desolate during the winter months and the promise of active, colorful fish slucing the water and darting between blooming bog plants is certainly something to look forward to. There is a time of transition, however, between the winter snooze and the summer frolic that can look ugly enough to cause concern for many a pond owner.Green or murky water is typical in the early spring pondCredit: Photo by Jane GatesIt is this springtime warm up transtion that can also bring health challenges to a pond and all its occupants. This is one of the most important times for pond care. If you help your pond wake up with a little extra attention you are less likely to have difficulties later on in the season. When these features are newly built they usually take a couple of years to reach balance where everything flows together naturally. Ironically, new ponds need very little care before reaching balance. It gets trickier when, after reaching balance, you need to keep it that way. That basically means that you want to keep the water clean, aerated, and neither too acid nor too alkaline. You also want to make sure no pollutants get in the water, especially if you have fish living in your water environment. If you don’t have fish, you need to make sure your pond doesn’t breed mosquitoes. Here are some of the best ways to give your water feature the pond spring care it needs to look and function its best.

  • Clean up all dead leaves, sticks or other materials that may have entered the pond during the winter. These can rot, raise acidity and create pollution.

  • Test pumps and lines early in the spring for smooth functioning, cracks or leaks. Neither you nor the residents of your pond want to deal with a sudden lowering of the water level.

  • Only feed fish with winter food once the pond temperature goes above 50’F. Until the water reaches 60'F, most fish will have trouble digesting regular foods. Their digestive systems are still not fully active yet.

  • Clean and divide all plants and set them at the best levels for summer growth. Old plants can grow too large or spill out of their pots as they grow larger with warmer weather.

  • Keep a careful watch on your fish for signs of disease: growths, white dots, fluff or film, lesions or attached threads that are actually parasitic worms. Use a  water treatment right away if you see any abnormal signs.

  • If you see the water getting cloudy or turning thick and green, chances are you are getting a normal springtime ‘green water’ bloom. This is a tiny alga that grows suspended in the water as temperatures rise. The fish actually love to eat this nourishing algae and it will clear up on its own as temperatures continue to rise. But you can also use an algaecide that will create a crystal clarity if you don't want to wait.

Build your pond solidly and make an extra effort to keep it healthy in the spring, and you will have a stunning garden feature. A healthy water feature is all about keeping it clean and functioning well. If you catch problems early there are plenty of fixes, repairs and packaged treatments available to cure your issues. Taking the time to keep the water clean, the fish healthy and the plants well tended will help your pond look great and function well as the season continues.