After almost a year of concentrated work on clearing out the plants that I will never recommend that anyone plant in their garden pond, ever, we had most of them pulled out of the pond. (See my previous blog post so that you can learn from my mistake.) In addition, the water lilies that had been growing for about nine years needed thinning so over this past Labor Day three day weekend and finally finishing the following weekend, the three of us tackled a major pond clean out and restoration project.
With most of the water clover and dwarf horsetail removed we could tell that either the 19 degree low of last winter, the plant overcrowding, some combination thereof or the fishing skills of the herons or raccoons finally did away with all of our goldfish. We still had several hundred mosquito fish that would need to be removed in order to drain and clean out the pond. We also anticipated a good deal of silt build up after nine years and lots of root mats created by the plants that I will never plant again. There had been a lot of silt that we had to remove from the waterfall “bucket” when we did the leak repair on the spillway about two years ago and the pond is hundreds of times larger than that, so this was no small undertaking.
Day one entailed removing the remaining “evil” plants as well as the water lilies and some other plants that I wanted to keep. We had many more water lilies than I would need to replant and a friend with a large natural pond that wanted them, so we meticulously cleaned the water lily tubers and roots so no stray “evil” plants would make the trip to his pond. These were stored in large buckets filled with the pond water and I had a bucket for my plant keepers as well as snails and a host of tadpoles that had just hatched.
Day two started with filling another large bucket with pond water and beginning the great mosquito fish harvest. We also began draining the pond with our pond vacuum and removing rocks so that they could be cleaned and silt could be removed from the liner. I had really wanted to be able to put the mosquito fish back in the pond by the end of the day so we continued to work by shop light on the first level of pebbles before we called it quits on day two. By then we had a bucket full of hundreds of mosquito fish, many of the rocks removed, cleaned and some replaced but lots of works still ahead as can be seen in the second photo taken before work started on day three.
You will find part two of the clean out saga by clicking here. (Images enlarge when clicked.)