Garden pond maintenance in May

Pond maintenance is important throughout the year with each month having its list of actions that will need attention. Ongoing maintenance will ensure the water in your pond and it’s inhabitants continue to thrive from season to season.

For many of us, April has had unpredictable weather patterns which have seen snow, frost and high winds with a few warm sunny days too. With average temperatures around or marginally below the average for April, you will be forgiven for not being on top of your gardening and pond maintenance. But, we hope that the Easter week-end will bring warmer weather and inspire you to get both ‘Summer’ ready.

Now that the weather is warming up, it is the perfect time to introduce new plants to your pond. If you have a more established pond, it is important to thin out existing oxygenating and marginal pond plants (when they become too invasive and out grown their growing baskets). Cutting back aquatic plants will allow enough sunlight in to warm pond water and allow photosynthesis of submerged plants.

If you notice any signs of stringy blanket weed when tending to your pond, remove all traces as soon as possible. Dealing with Duckweed or Blanket weed as soon as possible reduces the chances of pond life being chocked by these oxygen sapping unwelcome plants.

Doing a few pond maintenance tasks each month will go towards a ensuring a thriving pond and a spectacle to enjoy during the warmer months of the year.

5 things to check before adding fish to your pond

5 tips to successfully adding fish to your garden pond

The number of ponds that have been built during these unprecedented times is just so exciting. Ponds not only add aesthetic value to your garden, but they are of great importance to wildlife. Most importantly, though is the reward of accomplishing a successful pond build and successfully adding fish to a healthy ecosystem. After which, you can sit back and enjoy all that your pond has to offer.

If you have built your pond for the purpose of homing fish, there are things to consider first. The best advise is to exercise a little patience, the result of which will be happy goldfish or Koi and a thriving pond.

Spring is the ideal time to introduce fish to your garden pond.

Steps to take before adding fish

  • Establish a safe aquatic environment first. A healthy ecosystem is critical to the survival of your fish.
  • Add a filter and pond pump to your water feature
  • Check pH which needs to be maintained between a range of 7.2 to a maximum of 7.8
  • Make sure the water temperature is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit before introducing your goldfish or Koi
  • Take care when transporting fish from place of purchase to pond location. Avoid direct sunlight onto the bag/s carrying your new pets

Introducing fish to a garden pond needs to be a slow process to avoid stress. A temperature variation between pond water and the water inside the bag they have been transported in needs to minimised. The best way to achieve this is to slowly add small amounts of pond water to the bag. Or, float the bag on the surface of pond for a half hour to an hour so fish can slowly acclimatise. Either method works provided you avoid fish being exposed to direct sunlight.

Size of pond matters too, especially if you are going to home Koi. They typically need at least 1000 gallons of water and depth of pond needs to be no less than 3 feet deep. It is also wise to net your pond to deter unwanted predators visiting your pond for a ‘free meal’.

We hope these simple, but practical tips are useful in a successful introduction of to your garden pond.

This entry was posted on February 4, 2022, in Garden ponds.

Practical tips to sustainable gardening and pond maintenance

According to an article published on the UK Government website in January 2020, British households are responsible for 25% of total carbon emissions. This makes them one of the biggest contributors to UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. In the interest of this article we are going to look at a few practical tips on how we can make changes to the way we garden and care for our outdoor space in a more responsible way. Every little step we take will help reverse the changes to the state of the environment.

Garden in a manner that will cause little or no harm to nature and will help preserve it as best as possible.

Here are a few ideas to gardening in a ‘greener’ way:

  1. Use natural methods to remove weeds from your lawn and flower beds. Avoiding the use of chemical weed killers will not only reduce adding packaging material to landfill or recycle bins, but it is kinder to micro-organisms and reduces the risk of rain run-off into your garden pond. Digging compost into flowerbeds or adding a layer of mulch will smother out weeds. Regularly digging weeds from lawn and garden beds before they seed also helps to keep those unwanted plants from taking over.
  2. Practise organic gardening as much as possible.
This entry was posted on November 19, 2021, in Garden ponds.

How to keep a new pond thriving

Ponds take a few months to fully establish and build-up sufficient resilience to prevent it from being overwhelmed with algae. There are a few steps pond owners can take to help their new wildlife or fish pond thrive through the seasons. Maintaining good pond water quality is key.

A garden pond should ideally be at least 50cm deep and 1.5 meters wide to achieve a healthy balance.

A new pond needs to build up sufficient good bacteria and a balanced ecosystem so during this period it will require diligent maintenance.

The summer of 2021 has experienced some challenging weather conditions from extreme heat to torrential downpours. Through these adverse situations a new pond will need to be carefully managed to reduce the chances of poor water quality:

  • Avoid rainwater run-off from your garden into your pond. This is of particular importance if the lawn has been fertilised or plants had added nutrients dug in to soil around their roots.
  • Dead-head plants and remove fallen leaves before they sink to the bottom and start decomposing
  • Scoop out the first signs of thread-like algae blooms
  • Top-up a new pond with rainwater if possible (provided it is free of contaminants). Tap water is chlorinated so you want to avoid it killing off good bacteria. If your only option is tap water, it is advisable to stand in a bucket until warmed to ambient temperature before pouring into pond.
  • Test water pH levels regularly to ensure pond doesn’t become too acidic or alkaline.

Importance of adding plants to wildlife pond

Aquatic plants help to maintain a balance between sun and shade as well as adding interest. They also play an important role in a pond’s ecosystem particularly in wildlife ponds. Aquatic plants offer a source of food and protection to frogs, newts, larvae and numerous small creatures that visit.

  • Submerged plants offer shade and protection for aquatic larvae.
  • Marginal plants provide an egg-laying habitat for newts and perches for dragonfly nymphs.
  • Oxygenating plants help maintain sufficient oxygen levels in the water making it less murky. These plants also absorb impurities in the water.
  • Floating plants covering up to two thirds of the surface, prevent the build up of bad algae and blanket weed.

Before going out to buy plants it is a good idea to research the mature size of plants relative to size of your water feature. Too little sunlight or, vice versa can affect water quality. Best to avoid invasive plants too.

The more time and effort you put into the first few months of your new pond, the more likely you are to be rewarded with a healthy water feature.

This entry was posted on August 20, 2021, in Garden ponds.

What is the best pond liner for a big pond?

Choosing a pond liner can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look out for. Pond liners come in different types and thicknesses all designed with one primary purpose and that is to hold water. There are many types on the market so in this article we will look at three popular choices available in the UK to help you in the decision process.

Consider the following pond liner features:

  • Tear and puncture resistant to reduce the need for having to repair your pond liner
  • Resistant to UV rays therefore guaranteeing a longer life expectancy
  • High sheet flexibility so that it is easy to push into the corners and contours of your pond build
  • Non-toxic to fish for those wanting to take-up koi or goldfish husbandry

Types of pond liners

The latest trend is to use a flexible pond liner versus a preformed pond. Sheet water containment materials offer design flexibility. It allows you to build a pond to any size, shape or depth. It also offers the means of expanding your pond build or adding a feature such as a stream.

The choice of pond liner tends to be either PVC or a synthetic rubber material. PVC has been around the longest and tended to be the traditional choice. It is the least expensive and it is easy to work with. PVC is a light weight material and conforms readily to the shape of a pond. However, PVC does leach chemicals into the water therefore is not the ideal choice for fish pond builds. It isn’t UV or ozone resistant so needs to be fully covered to avoid environmental damage which would reduce the liners life expectancy. Extreme weather conditions will also affect PVC causing tears and this material can’t be repaired if it punctures.

Rubber liners such as Butyl and EP (Liners Online EP is known as Epalyn) are both very pliable, offer high strength, resistant to UV and adverse weather conditions, non-toxic to fish, easy to repair and likely to last many years (25+ years).

For large ponds we recommend a flexible synthetic rubber pond liner of 1mm thickness. The thickness the durability will ensure it withstands the most demanding conditions.

How to add plants to your wildlife pond

Are you wanting to find ways to encourage wildlife into your garden? Building a wildlife pond with at least one sloping side will provide water, food and a breeding ground for many creatures. Aquatic plants added to a wildlife pond will provide much needed shelter.

In this video Monty Don offers advice on how to planting-up a wildlife pond. Plants provide shelter from predators and shade against the heat of the sun. They are also important in keeping the water oxygenated and maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Why pond water quality is critical to Koi survival

Do your Koi look lifeless or have scales missing? This could be a sign that they are stressed and possibly suffering ill health. Losing a pet Koi is very distressing. The cause could be poor husbandry and often a result of deteriorating pond water quality. A lack of oxygen could also be the cause.

Water quality is a key factor to the health of fish who become increasingly stressed in poor conditions. There are a number of factors that can affect pond health such as local climate, size of pond, number of fish stocked, number of aquatic plants and the type of filtration system installed.

Koi are cold water fish and so do best in ponds that are in partial to full shade (geography dependent but best to avoid Koi pond water getting too warm). They can survive all but the coldest winters when ponds freeze over. Koi require more maintenance than goldfish and do more damage to pond plants nibbling on them only.

How to maintain healthy conditions for koi

  • avoid spraying insecticides or pesticides on to flower beds that are close to your pond and put measures in place to prevent rainwater run-off (unless your garden and pond are on flat ground!). Use natural methods of pest control to reduce chemicals entering your pond and affecting the water quality.
  • test the pH of your pond water fairly regularly. Fish thrive in water which has a pH of around 7 to 7.4. High ammonia and nitrate levels are an indication that there are too many fish in your pond or the filter system isn’t coping. The role of a filter system is to clean the pond water and keep it free of bad bacteria.
  • carry out a partial water change weekly.  This helps to remove pollutants from the water. The advice on how much water is exchanged varies amongst pond experts. Start by doing a 10% change and monitor the water quality between changes. If 10% is not enough to remove pollutants then increase the volume. No more than 50% should be changed to avoid stressing the natural ecosystem and fish. Use a pump, pond vacuum or hose to remove water from your pond. Replace with harvested rainwater or dechlorinated tap water.
  • a garden pond is a closed water system where water leaves only via evaporation leaving behind pollutants. Ponds need to be installed with a good filtration system to remove fish waste – which if not removed release ammonia into the water. Bacteria in the water converts ammonia into nitrates which is then processed by plants and algae.
  • reduce levels of algae by growing aquatic plants which cover 50 to 70% of the water surface. Plants will also offer a protective habitat to fish. They also absorb nutrients in the water reducing algae growth
  • remove organic mater from your pond water before it sinks to the bottom and starts to decompose – and becoming a food source for the growth of algae.
  • the greater the surface area of a pond the greater the amount of oxygen so always build a pond as big as your garden space will allow.
Healthy koi in a pond with good water quality

Koi can thrive outdoors for many years in well nurtured and maintained garden ponds. A raised, vertically sided pond lined with a rubber Epalyn or Butyl pond liner is more of a deterrent to pond predators than a pond on ground level. There are, however pond guards and protective aids available for all pond types and shapes to discourage predators visiting and reducing your goldfish numbers.

Koi are friendly and add so much character to a garden pond. They are hardy provided you follow the advice shared in this article. If you can add anymore advice, we would love to hear from you.

How much pond liner do I need?

Knowing how much pond liner you need will save your budget (and time!) – too big or too small is wasted money. Calculating how much material you need is dependent on accurate measurements of your pond build. You will need these to add into a liner calculator which will take your measurements to determine the amount of pond liner and protective underlay you will need to order. So, let me take you through how to calculate how much material you need.

Pond liners offer greater flexibility in pond design allowing you carte blanche in creativity. However, the further you move away from the traditional rectangular or circular pond shape the more you need to understand how to take measurements. With all measurements remember to add in a little extra for an overlay (visit ‘Pond planning and construction‘ for more information).

How to take measurements of your pond Pond with wooden bridge going across and bordered by ferns

  • Measure the longest length
  • Measure the widest width
  • Measure the depth from the deepest area of your pond

Now, add one side (Length or Width) to two times the depth plus amount needed for the overlap (0.15m).  The depth of the pond needs to be multiplied by two because the pond liner needs to go down one side of the pond and back up the other side.

How much of an overlay or overlap to add into your calculation really depends on how you plan to fix your pond liner in place. So, increase or decrease the amount of overlay depending on installation and edging method. I have used an overlay of 0.15m in my example calculations.

The pond liner calculation will look like this:

  • Maximum length + (2 x depth) +2 x 0.15m overlap = Total Length of Liner
  • Maximum width + (2 x depth) + 2 x 0.15m overlap = Total Width of Liner

Multiplying the depth by 2 accounts for the depth on both sides of the pond. And, the same applies to the overlay. Planting shelves in your pond design don’t need to be accounted for as they won’t significantly affect the pond measurements.

The size of pond liner required can be calculated as: Maximum length + (2 x maximum depth of pond) x maximum width + (2 x maximum depth) with the overlay added into the length and width pond measurements. Or, take each measurement and use a pond liner calculator to do the calculation for you.

How to measure how much pond liner you need

Pond liner measurements for an L or U-shaped pond

For more complex pond designs such as an L-shaped or U-shaped pond, the easiest way to take measurements is to divide the pond into sections. So for an L-shape you would measure as a square + rectangle. The depth where the two liners will meet only needs to be added into the calculation once.

Or, calculate as a whole shape:

  • Measure the maximum depth
  • Measure the length of the two outer longest sides of the pond.
  • Multiply the maximum depth measurement by three and add it to the two longest lengths of your pond to get pond liner dimensions required. Box-welded pond liner fabricated from EPDM pond liner

Ponds with an island or raised plinth:

  • Measure the maximum depth of pond and multiply this by four,
  • Measure length and width of pond
  • 4 x maximum depth + length x width = pond dimension

Filling your pond

When you start filling your pond with water, watch to make sure your liner isn’t being pulled out of shape. Once your pond has been filled, allow the liner settle for a while before making any adjustments to get it as flush to the shape of your pond as possible

You will need at least 150 to 200mm of excess pond liner for the over lay. Any excess for your edging requirements, can now be trimmed and neatened before anchor in place with boulders, paving slabs or other chosen edging material.

Use our pond liner size Calculator to get the pond liner and underlay measurements you need to order for your pond design. For L-shape and ponds with a plinth you may want to discuss these with our pond experts first. You can phone us at Liners Online on 01526 399 033 for all your pond liner queries.

Discover how to care for your pond in Spring

The clocks have changed, the weather is warming and nature is awaking to a new season. For gardeners and pond owners spring is also a busy time clearing, cutting back and planning.

Your pond in Spring needs regular maintenance to keep them looking good. Without it they can soon become overgrown. This could lead to pond water becoming too unhealthy for fish and other wildlife to thrive in. If you notice an increase in algae growth, deal with it by raking up the filamentous weed and leaving it to the side of your pond for a few days. This will allow time for any wildlife hidden in the algae to make their way back to the water.

If you struggle to keep algae levels low then another option is to use barley straw. This is an environmentally friendly treatment for blanket weed. Submerge mesh bags of barley straw just below the water’s surface in early spring (replace the straw when it turns black). Chemicals released when the straw decomposes inhibits the growth of algae.

Garden ponds need careful spring maintenance to keep the thriving like this one

Pond in Spring maintenance tips

If you kept your pond free of fallen leaves and debris in Autumn the chances are your pond is starting the new growing season looking healthy. If not, clearing debris before it starts to decompose needs to be a priority. Here are nine other tips to getting your pond Summer ready:

  • Give your pond filter a good cleaning. If you have a bio-filter, give it a boost of a bacteria/enzyme product to ensure a good bacteria colony starts to grow in the bio-filter.
  • Start feeding your fish when temperatures are stable at around 55 degrees F (12 degrees C).
  • Clean your pond pump and check all hoses for leaks or cracks.
  • If you have a net covering your pond, make sure it is still intact, if not, replace it.
  • Remove leaves or other debris in your pond – as the water warms up, any debris left in your pond will start to decompose and affect the health of fish.
  • Fish keepers need to keep a vigilant look out for any signs of illnesses or wounds. Parasites and bacteria start becoming more active as the weather warms posing a potential threat to fish.
  • Divide and repot pond plants. Avoid re-potting with soil full of organic matter. Most water plants grow well in sand and don’t require fertilizer. Water lilies are, however, an exception and do require fertilizer for a healthy growth. Water plants get their nutrients from fish waste. If you have extra plants after you have divided them, you may want to consider growing them in low, damp spaces in your garden.
  • For fish ponds, make sure that up to half of the surface of your pond is covered with floating plants as it gives the fish a place to hide from predators and keeps them cool in the heat of the summer. It also keeps the sun from encouraging algae growth.
  • If your pond is lined with a pond liner check that the material you have used for the edging is still in place, sufficiently covering the pond line to prevent any possible damage from claws or the UV rays – rubber pond liners are UV stable and will withstand long periods of UV exposure – but, a bare edging exposing a pond liner can detract from the beauty of the pond.

For wildlife pond owners, frogs are likely to have started to spawn in your pond. Netting your pond may help to deter the many prey. Insects start to hatch. Herons will be getting ready to nest and on the look out for an easy meal – look out for them in the early hours of the morning. Spring is also a time for growth, so regular cutting back your aquatic plants will help to make sure they don’t start occupying too much of the water surface.

A busy time but getting outdoors is good for your soul. You will also reap the rewards of a healthy pond during summer.

Important steps to pond care in Autumn and Winter

The unprecedented events of 2020 has been very challenging for many of us in various ways. However, negative situations often force us to find new ways of dealing with what we cannot control. This certainly has been evident by the massive increase in pond liner sales during the lockdown over the summer. Garden revamps with the addition of a wildlife or fish pond is an encouraging outcome for local wildlife. They depend on water sources for breeding, for drinking water during periods of dry weather, a supply of insect and plant based food as well as for shelter.

If this is your first winter as the proud owner of a pond you are likely to have questions on how to keep it healthy. A wildlife pond doesn’t need as much attention as one home to fish.

Keep your pond free of dying foliage

Prevent leaves blowing in to your pond by covering pond with a net over the Autumn months or regularly skim-off leaves to prevent them sinking to the bottom of your pond.

Dead head aquatic plants and remove dead plants.By doing this you reduce the chance of decomposition.

Reduce amount of fish food

Decrease the amount of food you are feeding your fish. As the surrounding temperature drops, fish metabolism slows so they don’t need to consume as much food as they do during the spring and summer months. A slowed metabolism means your fish are taking longer to digest their food. Any uneaten food will start to sink to the bottom of your pond and start to decompose. This in turn affects the quality of your pond water when the decomposed sludge starts releasing toxic gases.

With the onset of winter it is advisable to switch your fishes diet to wheat germ based foods. It is much easier for them to digest and therefore lead to less food waste versus a protein based diet. Once the temperature drops below 4 degrees C, stop feeding. At is at that point that your fish will go into hibernation anyway.

Ensure your pond gets as much winter sunlight as possible. This will help ensure pond plants continue to photosynthesis and maintain oxygen levels in your pond.

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether or not to keep your pond pump and filter running through winter. The advantage to your pond is that this will keep the water circulating. Moving water freezers at a lower temperature. It is recommended to only turn it off it the temperature drops below 4 degrees Celsius and is forecast to stay at or below that temperature for a prolonged period.

Keeping the filter running will help extract debris to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Should you do a water change to your pond in winter?

Regular water changes to fish ponds will help to reduce levels of nitrates, chemicals, and heavy pollutants that can cause discomfort to fish. When and how often you do a water change depends on a number of factors such as number of fish, pond size and quality of your filtration system. A small 10% – 20% of water volume change is best and should be carried out on a regular basis throughout the year including winter.

Your pond doesn’t need as much attention as in the spring and summer. But, keeping up pond maintenance through out the cold, wet and blustery months is likely to mean a healthy pond going into the warmer months.

Stay safe!

This entry was posted on November 20, 2020, in Garden ponds.

5 Pond Liner Installation Mistakes to Avoid

Pond liners are made of impermeable materials designed to retain water. An additional layer of protective lining is recommended to form a barrier between the soil and liner to protect from sharp edged stones and rocks, which may be pushed up over time due to ground movement. To minimise potential issues we recommend buying the correct type and thickness of pond liner to meet demands of pond size and reduce maintenance issues over its lifetime.

Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when buying and installing your pond liner:

  • Guided by price alone:  We recommend you choose a membrane that is thick enough to resistant puncturing, one that is not likely to deteriorate when exposed to the sunlight and that is strong enough to line a pond for many years. It is worth spending a little more upfront to avoid problems later. Plastic or PVC liners are not as durable as rubber liners such as Butyl or Epalyn. The best choice for a garden pond would be a 0.75mm thick EPDM (Epalyn) liner.
  • Ordering the incorrect size pond liner: Once you have dug the hole, measure it accurately in three directions – the length, breadth and depth. Then go online to put these figures into a pond liner size calculator to get the exact dimensions. Remember to factor in extra for the lip to anchor the liner over the edge of your pond – at least 2 feet/0.15m overlap to go around the entire rim of your pond.
  • Not adding a protective underlay to your order: A pond liner needs to be protected ideally from above and below. If no protection is added by way of lining your pond with a geotextile protective underlay before installing the pond liner, it may tear.
Geotextile underlay installed prior to laying down the pond liner
  • Failure to secure the edges of the liner: When installing the liner, generously overlap the edges to make sure your feature is water tight. If the overlap is insufficient, the sides of the pond will become exposed as you start to fill your pond with water. The overlap must then be secured in place with your choice of edging material.
  • Not installing a box-welded liner to a formal design: Fitting a flat sheet to a water feature with vertical sides and right angles will be very challenging. A box welded or tailored to fit liner welded to the exact requirements of the pond design will avoid this. These liners are made with a welded base and flange at the top for fixing. The benefit of this type is that there are no unsightly folds which also have the potential of harbouring debris.

Avoid these mistakes to ensure you create your dream garden pond that will give you years of pleasure.

Add pond to make garden wildlife friendly

If you looking to make your garden more wildlife-friendly, why not add a pond. This can be lined with a good quality pond liner to successfully contain the water. PVC, Butyl and Epalyn pond liners are all non-toxic therefore fish and aquatic-life friendly.

Garden ponds represent a freshwater habitat that could play an important role in supporting macro-invertebrates (damselflies, dragonflies, water beetles, snails, aquatic worms) biodiversity. Garden ponds may also play an important role in the conservation of floral communities.

Any permanent water will bring all sorts of wildlife to your garden. By having a garden pond you create somewhere for residents and visitors to drink and bathe. A pond also provides a breeding and feeding place for amphibians, insects plus wildlife that prey on them. Continue reading