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Spring Waterfeature Clean-Up Tips

Spring cleaning is an annual ritual in most homes. Did you know it's also necessary to spring clean your Jacksonville backyard? Most importantly your water feature.

The American Nursery and Landscape Association recommends evaluating the cleanliness of your water garden every few weeks. If you have been diligent about keeping up with pruning the plants and skimming, you'll only need to drain the pool or pond every three to five years. Never drain it more often than once a year, however, and always when temperatures are warm.

Depending on the amount of decomposed debris, you probably can use a net to clean small pools. For larger ponds where a lot of debris has settled at the bottom, you will need to pump the water out with an existing, submerged pump or by siphoning. Transfer most of the old water to a clean garbage can, children's wading pool, or large buckets.

As you lower the water level, carefully remove the plants. Keep them moist and out of direct sun. If you have fish in your pond, pump the water level down to about six inches, then catch them with a net. Put the fish in holding containers of the "old water," covering these with netting to discourage predators and prevent the fish from jumping out.

Once the pond is empty, quickly rinse the walls. Try to leave most of the algae as this assures a healthy pond environment. Use a wet/dry shop vacuum to remove every last bit of water. Then refill with clean water, adding a neutralizer chemical to hasten dechlorinization.

Replace the plants, giving those that need it a quick trim first. When the water temperature stabilizes, you can return the fish to the pond. There should be no more than three to five degrees difference in temperature between the old and the new water to prevent shock to the fish.

Plants will keep water clear as they absorb the nitrate buildup that naturally occurs in ponds. However, throughout the summer, you will need to regularly prune plants both to control algae and enhance the appearance of the water garden. Periodic skimming and netting also will keep your water feature attractive and cut down on spring cleaning next year.

Encourage nature's cleaners--tadpoles and Japanese black snails--to live in your pool or pond. Tadpoles will eat waste before it turns into nitrate. The snails love algae but won't bother your plants. However, if there is too much debris or too many fish, neither critter can do an effective job.

To maintain clean, clear water you also can rely on mechanical and biological filters and ultraviolet lights. These are available at many garden centers and nurseries or can be ordered on-line.

Follow these steps and your water garden will be a beautiful asset, and not a hindrance, to your landscape.

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Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for this info! Very helpful.

May 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWorkerGirl

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