Friday, January 13, 2012

Garden Pond Clean Out – Part 2

Day three began with more rock removal from the middle and bottom levels of the pond and rock washing. (If you have landed here without reading part 1 of this garden pond clean out project, you might want to bring yourself up to speed by reading part 1 first.) In addition, as the dirty rocks and silt were removed, the liner cleaned and enough clean rocks returned, we began to restack the bottom two walls of large rocks and replace pebbles on the ledges. Finally by early evening the silt and sediment were declared banished along with the last of the water (see first photo). Now we just needed to replace a stone bridge that serves as a fish hiding place on the lowest level and the pebbles before we could begin to add water, treat it and return the crowded mosquito fish to the pond. Since we had some rocks to clean still, we only filled the bottom level of the pond so that we could add the water lilies and mosquito fish before it got totally dark. I didn’t want the fish to spend another night in their crowded temporary housing. The mosquito fish were so taken by the change back to a larger body of water that they swam in a tight school round and round the edge of the bottom level of the pond for quite some time before splitting up and investigating their new environment individually. It was actually quite amusing to watch them. We also placed a small pump in the water to circulate it since we couldn’t turn the waterfall back on until the pond was full.

The next day meant a return to work or school for my two guys. I spent the week looking for appropriate containers for the upper ledge plants that I wanted to return to the pond. Also, with the help of the other two when they could, we replaced the remaining pebbles as we cleaned them. It was the next weekend before we were able to fill the pond up the rest of the way. I had no luck locating the smaller hollowed out stone planters that my local stone yard used to stock so I made my own rock planters using small slabs of stone from Whiz Q Stone and fixing them in place in the pond using black expanding pond safe foam. Once the new “pots” were made, I replanted the dwarf papyrus and pickerel rush and then treated the water as we refilled the pond. Once filled, it was time to turn on the waterfall, replace the snails and tadpoles (which had grown tremendously in the week they spent in their bucket with the pickerel rush and dwarf papyrus). The next weekend I purchased 5 new goldfish and some pond starter to help re-establish the beneficial microbes in the pond that help break down organic matter and help keep algae from forming.

We did leave the stream section untouched during this project, hoping that the good bacteria from that section would help repopulate the pond. It is the last piece of the water feature installation that has not been cleaned since it was installed. Since we had to leave the waterfall off for a week, this was not as successful as I believe it would have been if we could have turned it back on before it dried out most of the way. However, the water for about 6 feet downstream from this untouched section did clear up and stay clearer than the rest of the pond, so it seemed to help some. When the weather warms up enough in the spring, I will begin to add more beneficial microbes to help combat the string algae that has moved in with the cooler weather. (We will mechanically remove much of it too.)

All ponds will silt up and require some maintenance over time. This siltation can be minimized by avoiding certain plants that tend to create large root masses, such as water clover and horsetail (dwarf or not). I still have a bit of edge work maintenance left to do around the pond and I expect that we will clean the stream section this coming summer. After that we should be able to enjoy our water feature without major maintenance for many years to come.

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