Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cleaning the Pond

View from Kitchen Window

It was finally warm enough last weekend to tackle the yearly garden chore I dread most: cleaning the pond! It's an all day chore, but when it's done, it's so worth it!


I won't bore you with shots of the pond being cleaned, but rather, let you enjoy the beauty that occurs after.

View From The Top

I built the pond eight years ago to be used by the wildlife that visit our garden. I designed it with shallow pebbled areas for birds to bathe and deeper areas to sink water plants.

Frog Spitter

A biofilter waterfall helps aerate and circulate the water, as does a powerful pump and pre-filter.


Now for the cleaning. I started by pulling any weeds around the perimeter, and removing any dead plant materials left over from winter.

Pond Edge2

Next comes the testing of the pond pump, connecting it to the garden hose, and draining out all the old, stale water. The rushes need to be removed and trimmed, and the water lilies need to be divided.

Toad on Lilypad

Water lily rhizomes are buried in mesh pots filled with stones to weigh them down, and dirt that turns to virtual muck when waterlogged. The rhizomes themselves dye your hands a blackish-purple color, and the stain is hard to remove.


The next step is to get inside the nearly-drained pond and scoop out as much muck and black scum as possible. I carry buckets full of this matter to the compost heaps to recycle it. It's very smelly and slippery, and no matter how careful I am, I always end up covered from head to toe with it!

2011 Pond

Next, I use the hose to spray the remaining nooks and crannies of the pond and surrounding pebbles and rocks to dislodge any remaining debris. Then I begin refilling with fresh water.

Pond Edge

It's important to always leave some of the old water, with it's bacteria and bugs that thrive there. This helps keep the pond balanced, and inoculates the filtration system with a colony of helpful bacteria that actually help keep the pond clean.


I make sure the waterfall is draining completely back into the pond, and that water isn't leaking out from various area between the rocks. This is a common occurrence, as the pesky raccoons overturn the rocks at night, looking for little critters to eat.

Bird on Waterfall

When the pump is working, the waterfall is cascading, and the birds are drinking and bathing, it's a beautiful thing!

Blue Jay

And here's how the pond looks and sounds after it's been cleaned and prepared for summer!

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Blogger Miss Sandra said...

Dear Pam,
I love your pond!! I used to want one at one time, but never got around to it. Not sure if it's a good idea anymore. However, I'm glad you have such a fabulous feature for your garden. It's nice to see the wildlife enjoying themselves. I must say, the cleaning of it sounds dreadful..but the outcome is simply blissful. Thank you for showing us the lovely images and video footage. I hope you've had a most delightful week! xo!

May 25, 2011 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

What a beautiful post - didn't realise that ponds were such hard work! I suppose the fact that so many birds come to enjoy all your efforts make it worth while!

May 26, 2011 at 3:13 AM  
Blogger Rose ~Victorian Rose ~ said...

Pam, I do not envy you cleaning your pond..but agree the JOY it brings you all Summer and Fall is worth it.
My brother has a pond with COY fish I have heard him explain the "joy" of cleaning that...the fish have to be removed and put elsewhere and kept safe and alive while he cleans the pond...and then the real fun begins he says. He too lives up in your area.
But your video was wonderful...give each of us a chance to enjoy the sights and sounds of it.


May 26, 2011 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Miss Sandra-

Seeing the birds and toads come to the pond is worth the once-a-year ordeal to clean it properly. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!


May 26, 2011 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Liz-

I think if the pond were a bit smaller, it would be easier to keep clean. It's mostly dead plant matter (tree leaves and seeds) that end up decaying in the water over a year's time!


May 26, 2011 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Rose-

Before I built this pond, we had a deeper pond in another area of the garden for koi fish. But it was way too much work to keep up with. Fish need a certain pH, and they are very messy. We kept them indoors over winter, too. When the last of my koi fish died, I built this wildlife pond instead! Much more satisfying!


May 26, 2011 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger The Dusty Victorian said...

My gosh Pam, you are so multi-talented. Garden/pond designer - what next. You are amazing. Yes, a pond looks like hard work in Spring, but the enjoyment you get out of it must be priceless - Well done!

May 26, 2011 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Anyès-

Thank you! If I only spent as much time and money on the house as I do the garden... well, you get the picture! ;-)


May 26, 2011 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Your pond is absolutely amazing. I had not idea that is what that much work to keep it clean though. Doesn't sound like fun, but the results are worth it!

May 26, 2011 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Pam-

Thanks! At least I only have to clean it like that once a year! :-)


May 26, 2011 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Thank you for visiting my blog, Pam. Your pond is amazing!! I loved seeing photos of it.

Your blog is wonderful too and I'll be back to visit. Hope you don't mind if I add you to my blog list.

Ravenhill Cottage

May 31, 2011 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Sandra-

Thank you! I love your blog and glad I visited! I'd be honored if you added me to your list, and I'll add you to mine. :-)


May 31, 2011 at 3:12 PM  

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