It’s almost spring again here in Colorado Springs—one of Hiner Landscapes’ favorite seasons. The warmer weather of summer will be right around the corner, and starting to think about your landscaping upkeep is important, especially your water features like a pond.

It may seem strange to you to start thinking about spring cleaning your pond out now, but it’s actually necessary to do it sooner rather than later. When the water starts getting above 55º F, you’ve waited too long, because the good algae-fighting bacteria has already formed, and cleaning it out will make the pond have to recreate that ecosystem all over again. So don’t wait until water gets too warm. Around 40-50º F degree is ideal to clean out your pond.

So how do you start cleaning your pond? Here are some easy steps to help you know exactly what to do when that ideal warmer water hits and you need to spring clean your water feature.

1. Evaluate what kind of pond clean up you need.

Not every season has to be a deep clean. If you’ve been good about keeping up with your pond by pruning plants and skimming, then a deep draining and cleaning could only happen every 3 or 5 years. If you like exceptionally pristine water, then every year is probably the best bet—but don’t ever do it more than once a year. Whatever your desire, it’s always beneficial to check out your pond and look for signs of excessive dirtiness. Bad signs include sediment buildup on the bottom of your pond (anything more than a half inch is considered negative), too many dead leaves from the fall and other particles floating around, murky water, and bad odors. These are signs your pond may need to be thoroughly cleaned and oxygenated.

2. Clean up debris before pumping.

Before you do anything else, clean up as much debris as you can that is floating on top or captured at the corners of your pond. If your pond is small, you will be able to do this with a simple fish net or vacuum. If you pond is much larger, then you will need to pump out water before you can thoroughly clean out debris. It’s to be noted that you don’t want to over clean, though. Leaving some algae and things in your pond will help with the ecosystem, so don’t over scrub.

3. Pump out your old water.

If your pond is big enough and dirty enough, you will need to pump out the water in order to clean it. Drain the water with a clean-out pump. You want to leave at least six inches of old pond water in the pond—or around 50% of the water. If you do more than 50%, remember that your fish will need to be completely acclimated to the pond all over again. Put the old pond water in a garbage bin, child’s swimming pool, or large buckets. Once you are done with this old water, it can be used to water plants or bushes.

4. Clear pond of living things.

Carefully remove any plants that are in your pond, keeping them moist and out of direct sunlight. If you have fish in the pond, place a net over the clean-out pump so that they don’t get sucked into it when you begin pumping. The fish can be placed into the old water (whether you used buckets, child’s swimming pool, or garbage bins) for now. Be careful that the temperature is not too different, or the fish may go into shock. Also be careful to put screens over these bins to avoid predators or fish jumping out. You should place bins in shady areas. Make note to check each fish to make sure it’s looking healthy and not infested with parasites or sickly.

5. Check your pump and skimmer, fix any leaks in water feature, and clean your filters.

As you’re doing the previous steps, you may notice that there are leaks or other problems with your water feature, pumps, or filters. Do a check of all your equipment to make sure that everything is in working order. It’s crucial that your pump and filters are in top condition, because they are the lifeblood of a stable, healthy ecosystem. Appropriate equipment will help oxygenate the water so that you don’t experience an overgrowth in algae over the season. Replace or clean anything that needs it.

6. Rinse pond walls and refill pond with clean water.

Once you are done taking everything out, wash the walls with a hose and pressure washer (but, as stated in step two, don’t over clean). Pick up any other debris that you weren’t able to get before draining the pond. You may need to lift up any stones that are usually under the water and clean off overgrowth of sediment. Then you can refill water, adding a de-chlorinator neutralizer chemical if you have fish. Once the temperature has stabilized, you can add fish back into the pond.

7. Add beneficial bacteria and plants to fight algae overgrowth.

You should add beneficial bacteria to your pond regularly over the season so that algae won’t become overgrown, because good bacteria will starve algae. You may add these bacteria in once your pond reaches temperatures of 50º F or so and after you’ve cleaned your pond. You can also add plants that help compete with algae. You should add a variety of plants—including marginal plants, submerged plants, and floating plants. Find oxygenating plants to help keep your pond clean, too.

That doesn’t sound too bad, now does it? We hope you enjoy your beautiful pond all season with these tips on how to effectively spring clean your pond. If you have any other questions or need any bacteria or other products for your pond, we invite you to stop by our Retail Store, located conveniently off I25 and Fillmore here in Colorado Springs.