Maintaining our pond

Clear water ©Janet AllenWe started with crystal-clear water, but we don't expect to maintain it that way

Our pond hasn't been hard to maintain, especially since we're more interested in just maintaining it as a healthy environment, useful for wildlife, rather than as a merely ornamental water feature.

For the first few years, we added the bacteria every few weeks (easy to purchase in powder form), and we often used some variety of barley straw (actual straw, liquid, or pellets). We also generally planted some anacharis in the spring for extra oxygen.

We gradually stopped doing these things (and we're still trying to eradicate the anacharis or elodea —whatever it was they sold us). So far we haven't noticed any problem since we discontinued these things.

Seasonal maintenance

We bring the pump inside and it spends the winter in a bucket of water in the cellar. We also bring in the filters and bag of lava rocks, which we clean each spring before putting back into the BioFalls. That's about it.

Cleaning

Emptying the pond ©Janet AllenEmptying the pond

Cleaning the pond involves draining the water, then refilling it. We use the water from the pond to water the plants in the front yard, which lets gravity do the work since it's at a lower elevation than the back yard. We just get it started by siphoning it.

We started cleaning the pond every year, as the directions say. Then, since we were concerned about the dragonfly larvae and other tiny creatures that would be lost in the cleaning, we tried just leaving it to see what would happen.

Cleaning the pond ©Janet AllenCleaning the pond

After a couple of years we found that the plants became too thick and the water became too cloudy. We decided on a middle course—probably not cleaning it out thoroughly every year, but probably every other year or so.

The orange buckets? When we get toward the bottom, we put some of the water in buckets and check to be sure we aren't discarding any dragonfly larvae or other little creatures.

Spring cleaning(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
Spring cleaning

With the water level down, it's our chance to remove some of the extra plants.

The pond bottom(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
The pond bottom

This is what the pond bottom looks like without water after a number of years. We can no longer see very many of the stones on the bottom.

Thinning plants

Thinning out extra plants(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
Thinning out extra plants

Aquatic plants grow vigorously. We finally decided we needed to thin them out, even though we weren't planning to do a whole pond cleaning.

Spanning the pond with a plank allowed us (by which I mean John) to get to the plants in the middle. It was easy to pull out plants along the side, but we really prefer having plants along the side and just water in the middle.

Plant roots(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
Pond plant roots

It's not always easy to pull out aquatic plants. Look at the mass of roots they develop!