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Winter pond care

Taking care of your pond all year long is very important. This is also very important in the winter months when you are not using the pond. You have to make sure that you clean the pond well and properly winterize the pond to keep it from being damaged during the cold season. You have to make sure that you drain the water, and clean it with the proper chemicals. There are plenty of different methods you can use but you have to make sure that you choose the right one for your pond. Covering your pond is very crucial to maintaining it as well. This is to help keep the debris and the weather from getting to the pond and destroying all the hard work that you have done to create the pond in the first place.

As a pond owner, you know it’s important to have a well balanced pond. Keeping your water quality at its best is a huge part of that. Knowing when and what to test for is the difficult part. Each pond is different so it’s important to follow the directions of testing kits. However, sometimes it can be difficult to know what does need testing and what things can slip by.

Hardness and Alkalinity of the pond should be tested two or three times a year. As stated earlier, there are kits that go into detail exactly how to test the water.

Oxygen is a must in your pond every day of the year. There can never be too much oxygen, but too little and you’ll have dead fish and plants on your hands. Use your discretion on when to test the water but keep in mind that oxygen depletion is more apparent in summer months.

Testing for Carbon Dioxide isn’t necessary unless there is a problem. Having good aeration at all times will rid of excess CO2.

Although there are no testing kits for overcrowding, it’s important to keep an eye out for this. Too many fish equals less oxygen which can be fatal. Overcrowding will also lead to the increase of ammonia and nitrite.

Choosing fish to stock in your pond varies on the size of water garden you have and the price you are willing to spend. Fish such as goldfish are easily maintained and generally won’t grow to be bigger than six inches thus making them ideal for smaller ponds. The common goldfish, comet goldfish and Shubunkin are known to be hardy. However, fancier goldfish including fantails and lionheads are more easily preyed upon.

More desirable fish such as Koi take a little more consideration, time and maintenance. Koi require at least three feet in depth, better water quality and a bigger pond as a general rule of thumb. At one year of age, Koi will generally get to about 6-8 inches, 12-16 inches in two years, with the possibility of getting up to 24-36 inches in a decade. However, the size of Koi greatly depends on how big their habitat is as well as the quality of their environment, water and maintenance. Although much goes into the care and keeping of Koi, they make great pets and can become very friendly, even eating out of your hands at dinner time. They also help in keeping your pond beautiful as they graze on algae.

Fish such as The White Cloud fish and Catfish variety aren’t typically kept as pets like Goldfish and Koi. The White Cloud Fish are often kept for the purpose of mosquito control, mostly in warmer climates while Catfish will get rather large, tear up plants and stir up sediment and most likely prey on smaller fish.

Whatever your selection, with a little care and attention, fish can add color and fun to your water garden.

Pond Liners

You have sited your pond, calculated measurements and dug a hole. Now comes the hard part, what type of liner do you use?

There are many types of liners available varying in materials, color and of course price. As with many things in life, it is a good idea to get the best quality for your budget as the product will last longer and cause fewer headaches down the road. Liners made of Butyl rubber and PVC or low-density polyethylenes are used in better quality liners. These are available in different thicknesses and some even have a Glad bag type web design to offer added strength. Different colors and liners with pebbles glued to the edges for a natural look is an aesthetically pleasing option for some butyl and PVC liners available on the market. But you’re not done yet. Adding an underlay (a cushioning material to go between liner and earth) is a wise decision to get your pond off to a good start and protect it from punctures and the elements. Purchasing a specific underlay material is not entirely necessary however. Sand and even old carpet scraps can be used with basically the same results.

While the aforementioned liners will get the job done for most pond enthusiasts, there are others to choose from. Polythene liners are cheaper but should be avoided if possible. Lacking pliability and prone to becoming brittle and cracking due to sun exposure, polythene is a cheaper option best used only for temporary projects. Geotextiles or “clay-impregnated” liners are on the other end of the spectrum as far as quality and price. Infused with clay, these liners are able to plug small holes and thus sustain minor punctures. While the idea of never having to deal with leaks is a pleasing thought, geotextiles are ideal for larger, wildlife ponds and aren’t necessary for smaller, backyard ponds.

Now that you’ve decided what type of liner is best for your project, you are ready to shop! Remember to add a couple of inches to each dimension before cutting your liner and underlay. It is far better to be left with an overlap than to run out after all your hard work.

Wood is a widely available and versatile material that can be used in many ways in the garden. Along with its natural color and texture, wood is also relatively to work with. Unfortunately, woods major disadvantage of course is rot. Fortunately, wood rot can be overcome and controlled.

Although the natural look of wood generally looks best, applying a finish can keep wood looking good for longer. Take precautions when choosing a finish so as to protect your fish. Microporous paints and stains all the wood to breathe. Applying sealant evenly is important because uneven seal jobs are at greater risk of cracking in time. Preservative free stains are available but keep in mind they are harder to find.

Don’t use preservatives on wood that comes in contact with your pond water. Be sure to treat the wood far away from the pond so as to avoid any possible chance of the preservatives getting into the water by accident. Always use low-toxic preservatives. Wood preservatives are often in a toxic-solvent base, generally including various pesticides and fungicides that can be lethal to fish and other pond life. Avoid solvent-based treatments when re-treating wood. Fumes from the solvent can even be lethal to fish. Timber is often pre-treated with preservatives so be sure to check before buying.

Promote rain water run-off by positioning wooden structures and edging in a way that won’t build up pools of water but will naturally run off. Although hardwoods are more expensive than softwoods, they are more resistant to rot than softwoods. Hardwoods are also harder to cut but are ideal for structures that will be supporting something, such as bridges that people will be walking across.

Softwoods can be sealed with clear polyurethane paints, or can be painted with low-toxicity bitumenastic paints. Larch is one of the most rot-resistant softwoods available. Imitation logs available from Japan are molded from concrete and placed around pond edges. After moss grows on them, they look rather natural.
It is very important to make sure that wooden slats in bridges and decking are secured safely before they are open to public use. Use rustproof screws when constructing because nails can come loose over time. Drill pilot holes first so as to minimize the risk of splitting. Load-bearing beams need to be bolted into position.

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