By Cyndie Thomas
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It is a sure sign Spring has made its return to the pond with the shimmer of sun on the water, lily pads striving to reach the surface, fish seemingly playing tag and birds making their regular visits several times a day.
Water gardening is less time intensive than many other types of gardening, but like all other types, maintenance is a must. Maintenance in spring (as early as you can stand the cold water) plays an important role in general pond health. Even the best-balanced ponds experience some alga until plants begin growth to provide shade and take up nutrients in the water. A little effort now can decrease water "greening" that may be unhealthy to pond life and just plain unsightly.
Inspect mechanical equipment such as pumps, cords, filters, and tubing for damage or wear: clean and replace as needed. Assess the condition of the liner or preformed pond for possible deterioration from sun or punctures. Check the electric circuit and make sure the GFI (ground fault interrupter) is working properly. If all is well, refilling the pond can commence. Water should be trickled in from the garden hose; this will decrease any rapid temperature change that could affect fish. A dechlorinator and chloramine remover should be used at the rate specified.
Check hardy marginal (bog) plants, trim away any remaining
dead foliage, divide and repot as needed. Heavy garden soil should
be used to pot all water plants. Potting soil, compost, vermiculite,
or perlite should not be used, as they float out and foul the
Fertilize marginal plants now and every 5-7 weeks through
the growing season. Lilies should also be fertilized now and
every 3-4 weeks, until early August. Tablet or pellet fertilizer
for aquatic plants is recommended. These products provide a slow
release of nutrients that plants can absorb. Plants can now be
returned to their growing spots in the pond
Tropical water plants can be placed in the pond when day temperatures near 70 degrees and night temperatures do not drop below 50 degrees, usually the middle of June.
Combining these procedures with an adequate balance of water plants will allow for your enjoyment of a healthy, beautiful pond for the growing season.