DIY Pond Maintenance: Caring for Your Pond

Posted on April 20th, 2015 by John Foegley

Have a pond on your property? If you’ve decided to care for it yourself, follow these tips for how to take care of it in every season!


  1. Once the threat of a hard freeze is over, pond heater may be removed. To clean, soak in vinegar (white works fine) to remove all corrosion and calcium build-up. Clean/scrub with small brush as necessary. Store heater until next winter.
  2. Re-connect check valve assembly.
  3. Clean filter pads and bio-filter media, and replace in skimmer and bio-falls.
  4. Fertilize all water plants in bottom of pond, water lilies or other submergents. It may be necessary to draw water level down (an inexpensive sump pump with garden hose works well).
  5. Remove fish with net and place in tub of water from pond.
  6. Hose off stone and wash with heavy/sharp spray of water and pump water out with suspended particles.
  7. Remove large debris and algae by hand and skim water to remove larger pieces suspended (to prevent clogging sump pump).
  8. Re-fill pond to normal water level, repair stone edge to hide all liner materials.
  9. Set automatic fill float.
  10. Turn pump on, inspect around waterfall for settling and leaks.
  11. Install double dose of pond bacteria and a single dose every 2 weeks.
  12. Place fish back in pond. Do not feed fish until water temperature rises to above 55 degrees.


  1. Install any new plants or fish.
  2. This is a good time to divide water plants
  3. Install annual plantings in bio-falls.
  4. Continue bacteria applications every 2 weeks.
  5. If string algae becomes too prevalent, increase application of “Algae Buster” and install a barley straw bale in bio-filter.
  6. Water Hyacinth also can be installed to assist in decreasing light penetration into water.
  7. Monitor water level for leaks and evaporation.

Fall / Winter

With the winter season approaching there are several pond maintenance issues that should be addressed before ice-up.

  1. Cut back and remove all dead or dying water plants. Decaying vegetation removes oxygen from pond water.
  2. Add a double dose of pond bacteria before water temperature drops below 45 degrees.
  3. Stop all fish feeding when water temperature drops below 55 degrees.
  4. Remove all organic matter from pond, but plantings that are cut back are ok. Also remove plants from bio-falls.
  5. Place netting over pond to prevent leaves and debris from entering. Net should be suspended well above waters surface. A PVC frame/tent makes and inexpensive structure to keep net above the water.
  6. Continue running pump and filtration system until outdoor temperatures allow ice to build on pond.
  7. After ice has begun to form it is now time for the plumbing system to be shut down.
  8. Set-up pond heater by skimmer box. A thermo-static heater is a good choice. This is only meant to keep an air hole open through ice to maintain gas exchange.
  9. Disconnect check valve in skimmer box allowing water from bio-fall to travel/drain back to skimmer.
  10. Leave bellows open in skimmer, with heater located close to skimmer in pond. This will help prevent water in skimmer from freezing solid. It may be necessary to weight the bellows weir under water, a stone works fine.
  11. Leave pump submerged in pond skimmer to keep seals moist.
  12. Remove stone bags and filter pads from bio-falls and submerge in pond.
  13. Netting can be removed once ice has formed.
  14. Check all electric cords and connections for damage. Place plastic bag over electric box to help keep moisture out.
  15. Run heater as needed to keep air hole open. It may only be necessary to operate for a couple of hours per day to conserve on power consumption.