7 Proven Steps

to designing, planning, & building an amazing pondless waterfall.

Steal our step-by-step pondless waterfall guide.

by Gregg Sawyer 

March 24, 2021

Spring is an exciting time of year! The weather is warming up and the birds return from their southern migration, furry critters awaken from their winter slumber, and trees are budding! Most of all, your pond fish are warming up their fins for summer swimming! 

The best thing you can do for your pond’s health this season is to perform a spring clean-out, whether it is a deep cleaning or just a bit of sprucing up.

If there is a layer of “crud” at the bottom of the pond and the water is dark in color, it would be a good idea to do a full clean-out.

If there is just a tiny amount of debris that you can stir up and capture with a net and the water looks clear, a little tidying up is all that’s in order. 

If you’re going the whole clean-out route, plan on spending a half to a full day to complete a pond clean-out. 

The best time to perform a pond clean-out is the early spring, before your water garden completely awakens from its winter dormancy – ideally before the water temperature in the pond creeps above 55º F. If a clean-out is performed when the water is warmer, after bacteria colonies form, the balance of the ecosystem will be thrown off and your pond will go through another period of algae blooms before the bacteria colonies become re-established. 

Be patient, and your pond will naturally balance itself provided you don’t have a fish overload.

Here’s what you need to clean your pond:

Step 1: Drain the Pond Water

  • Place the clean-out pump in the deepest point of the pond in order to remove the water.
  • Drain the water into the surrounding landscape. Be sure to relocate the pipe two or three times to allow the water to seep into the ground and not flood the yard.
  • If you have fish, use some of this pond water to fill up the holding pool. The fish can be removed from the pond using a net once the water is low enough so you can easily catch them.
  • Don’t keep the fish in the holding pool for more than several hours. Keep them in a shady spot with a net over the top of the pool to prevent them from jumping out.

Step 2: Spray the Pond

  • Pressure wash the pond to help remove debris from the rocks and gravel.
  • Don’t try to scrub all of the algae away. Some algae on the rocks will prove beneficial in developing your ecosystem. 
  • Use the gentle stream from a garden hose to rinse the rocks and gravel. Start at the top and work your way down to the bottom. Periodically turn the clean-out pump on to remove the dirty water. You can discontinue the periodic pumping once the water rinsing down to the bottom begins to look clear. 
  • Remove the pump and begin filling the pond.

Step 3: Clean the Filters

  • Remove any debris from the bottom of the skimmer. This can be done by hand or by using a shop vac.
  • Remove the media nets and filter pads and rinse them free of accumulated debris.
  • The filter media and mats can be put back into place.
  • Reattach the waterfall pump into the skimmer.

Step 4: Acclimate the Pond Fish

  • After filling the pond with your garden hose, add Chlorine Remover & Pond Bacteria to detoxify the water to be safe for the fish.
  • Dip a five-gallon bucket, or similar sized container, in the fish holding tank and fill it with water.
  • Check the tub water and pond water temps. If they are within 2-3 degrees, go ahead and release the fish into the pond.
  • If not, catch the fish and place them into buckets filled with tub water. Place the buckets in the clean pond water (this prepares the fish for the temperature of the pond water).
  • After about 15 minutes, periodically begin splashing some pond water into the bucket.
  • By now, the temperature of the pond and the bucket water should be close to the same. You are ready to gently release the fish into their spring-cleaned home.

For additional spring maintenance tips, watch our video with helpful tips to get your pond off to a good start:

About the author 

Gregg Sawyer

Gregg is founder/partner of Sawyer Waterscaping in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He built his first pond in his parent's backyard at age 12 and has had a passion for designing and construction natural waterscapes ever since.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}