Thursday, May 31, 2012


The woman who stole my website copy has removed it. In fact, she has removed the entire website. (Thanks again, Ruth.)  Why on earth is my copy so valuable?  It's one of dozens and dozens of sets of directions about how to build a pond that you can find online.  

Mine is different because it shows how to build your pond up above the surround grade about 4". Now that's not difficult enough to steal an entire 2000 or so words about designing and building a pond.  In fact, it's pretty easy.

Of course, it's one of the most important things to do when building a pond because that 4" keeps run off out of your pond. That's the chemicals from your roof, your lawn, the neighboring golf course, the nearby fields or streets that can foul your pond and kill your plants and fish.

It also keeps the liner where it belongs--on the bottom of the pond instead of floating up during heavy rains. (Not that we have many of those anymore.)  But if we do, your pond water will stay put.

Oh, and building it up a bit looks fantastic as well.

Is that information really worth stealing when it's available for free on my website?

It's also in my new book, A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond. Buy it here.

See it on my website as well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Website Thief, Fountains and your Kitchen Window

The woman who stole my copy from my website wrote to me and told me it has been removed.  It has not.  I have written her again citing the law that one of my readers sent.  (Thanks, Ruth.)  Now we shall see what happens.

On to more fun things, or at least things about your pond, the reason you read this.

Ya know those fountain heads that look like shower heads and spray out water in cute little patterns.  They look something like this:

They look nice, don't they?  Here's the deal.  Hook it up and water comes out all the holes in the spray head.  

Then, usually within a day or so, one of the holes gets stopped up. After all it is pond water you are pumping through those tiny holes and pond water does have some debris in it. It's not the cleanest stuff in the world. 

So one hole is stopped up by debris and the other holes shoot the water a bit higher.  Then a second hole gets stopped up and the water goes even higher. Can you see where this is going?  Soon, more holes are stopped up and one stream of water is coming through your kitchen window.  And you can't figure out what happened.

Ah, but you figure it out, clean it out. And in three days, your window sill is wet again.  

But you are smart, so you make the holes bigger.  That works a little bit, so after a few more cleanings of the holes, you make them even bigger. Now you have missed the mark a bit and some of the holes have run into the other holes, so you have fewer and larger holes. The spray pattern doesn't look very nice anymore. 

You are so frustrated, you are ready to pitch the entire thing in the trash and give up.

Try this:  Remove the spray head altogether and do throw it in the trash, leaving just the pipe sticking out of the water or just below the water level.  It will make a delightful bubbler.  If it goes too high in the air, just lower the pipe farther in the water until it's where  you want it.  

Now aren't you glad you read this today?  

You can read solutions like this one to your pond problems in my book, "A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond."
You can get it here. 

And join us at for more questions and answers. Or ask your own.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Internet Theft

The owner of this website,
 a woman named Roz, who lives in Ontario has decided the way to make herself look good is to steal articles from my website and put them on hers.  I have written to her, her website tech and admin asking them to remove what she plagiarized and gotten no results, not even and answer to my letter.  What does one do in cases like this?

What she stole:

Who did the stealing:

Domain name: 
Domain status:         registered
Creation date:         2004/04/05
Expiry date:           2014/04/05
Updated date:          2011/02/04

    Name:              Go Daddy Domains Canada, Inc
    Number:            2316042

    Name:              RipNET Limited

Administrative contact:
    Name:              Rob Hall
    Postal address:    43 Auriga Drive
                       Ottawa ON K2E 7Y8 Canada
    Phone:             +1.6132211215

Technical contact:
    Name:              Jamie Orzechowski
    Postal address:    101 Water St West
                       Brockville ON K6V 3M1 Canada
    Phone:             613-342-3946
    Fax:               613-342-8672

They are based in Canada, so I have no idea if the FCC has any reciprocal agreements with Canada.

I am furious that someone would blatantly steal what is mine and then do nothing about it when confronted.

What to do?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank You

                    We honor our soldiers today and every day.

Thank you, all of you, for your service to our country.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Felder Rushing and the Spring Garden Show

Before I sold my pond business and retired, I often did lectures and presentations at the various garden shows in New Orleans. Probably the ones that were the most fun were the City Park/botanical garden Spring garden shows in the spring and fall.  

One spring, the famous Felder Rushing of bottle tree fame was speaking at 11:00am.  I was speaking at 10:00am.  I always had a good crowd at one of my presentations, but was surprised to see standing room only this time.  Folks crowded in.  

I finished my 40 or so minutes about how to build a pond and opened the discussion for questions. There were very few, so at the end of my appointed time, I packed up my slides and got ready to leave.  Most of the time, people followed me out to ask individual questions and I was happily detained for at least another ½ hour.  Not this time.  No one followed me out, no questions were asked.  The audience did not move.

I could not figure out what was going on.   I chatted with Felder for a moment, but time was short and so were our remarks.  I looked for a seat to hear him, but was unsuccessful.  

As I was leaving, it finally dawned on me.  All those people were not there to hear and see me, the pondlady. They were trying to get a good seat to hear Felder Rushing. Talk about being a sobering experience.  I had to laugh.

But like Felder, I have written a book,  A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond. You can buy it  here

And for lots of pond info and and interactive forum, check out my website at

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer Pond Maintenance

It's official.  Regardless of what the calendar says, summer has arrived.  And with it, the pond's maintenance needs change. Relax, ponds still require less maintenance than anything else in your yard or garden.

Summertime pond care is important when summer arrives, We are already breaking heat records in New Orleans and it's not even officially summer yet. 90 degree temperatures and 110 heat indices are making everything miserable, including our gardens and our ponds.

Summertime maintenance

Keep fertilizing your water lilies. They are heavy feeders and will keep blooming until October when the days start to shorten or until the temperatures sink below 55 degrees F.

If you have lotus, they want more fertilizer than water lilies. I feed them at least twice weekly, even every ten days with one aquatic plant tab per gallon of pot. You rarely have to fertilize other pond plants because fish waste takes care of that for you, but if you are not satisfied with the plants growth, stick an aquatic plant tab in those too. You may wish to stagger your feeding because aquatic plant tabs fertilize all the plants in the pond including the dreaded green algae that will grab nutrients before they can get to what you really want to feed. Bury the plant tabs in the pots and make sure they are covered with soil or sand.

Floating plants

I keep at least 70% of the top of the pond covered with floating plants like water hyacinths, water clover and water lilies especially in the summer to give the fish some shade and some places to hide from predators. Egrets, herons, raccoons, and even your own Labrador retriever are looking for extra food and your pond is a brand new all you can eat buffet that you laid out especially for them. I even suggest making a cave for your fish. You can buy them already made or make your own out of a couple of flower pots on their sides or a flat rock on top of a couple of block shaped ones. The fish don't care how fancy their new digs are, as long as they are safe.

Remove debris

Remove dead foliage as soon as you can. As water lilies grow, the outer ring of leaves starts to yellow and die. Cut those off as close to the pot as possible. A water lily bloom opens and closes for about three days, then dies. Remove it as close to the pond as possible. If other plant foliage yellows and dies, cut it off and remove it. If foliage is allowed to decompose in the pond, waste material builds up, removes available oxygen and can foul the pond and kill your fish. Removing dead plant material makes room for new growth and sure does make the your pond look nicer. It's about the same as tending the rest of your gardens.

Those of you who feed your fish, do not feed them more than what they can eat in 5 minutes, and only 1 - 3 times daily. If the fish do not eat the food, it too, will decompose in your pond and foul the water. Also remember that the more the fish eat, the more fish waste you will have to feed algae and make your pond turn green quickly.

Keep your pump running

Maximize your aeration. Warm water does not contain as much oxygen as cooler water, so your fish can struggle to breathe. And just when the warm water holds less oxygen, the fish need more. Add an airs tone or another pump to your pond. Be sure you keep your pump running 24 hours daily in the heat of summer. If your pond is shallow, less than 18" deep, more aeration is a must. If your pond is 3' deep or more, you are safer. The fish can go to the bottom where the water is cooler and more oxygen is in the water, but still keep those pumps running.

What not to do:

Clean your filter only occasionally, if it is a biofilter. If it is a mechanical filter, e.g., foam rubber that strains out suspended material, clean it often. Your biofilter grows a colony of bacteria that can eat the sludge and decomposed organic matter in your pond. Cleaning your biofilter destroys that bacteria colony forcing it to start growing all over again. If you do clean it, kick start it with one of the bacteria products on the market. I like Microbe-Lift PL. It not only kick starts your biofilter, regular use, following the directions on the bottle can keep the dreaded string algae or blanketweed at bay.

Enjoy your pond

Now that summer has arrived, it is time to relax next to your pond after work. Entertain your friends on weekends, show off your garden, your pond and your beautiful waterfall. Bring out your iced tea or glass of wine, sit and enjoy yourself.

Learn seasonal maintenance and more in my book, A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond available for download here.

And for specific questions or to show off your pond, join us at

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pond Vacuum Cleaner

Leaves keep blowing in my pond. Is there an easier way to get them out besides using a net? It keeps getting tangled in the plants.
Pondlady sez: There are vacuum cleaners sold at swimming pool places. They look like large blue triangles and attach to a garden hose. The force of the water from the garden hose pushes the debris into a net that you have attached to the top of the triangle. You move the vacuum around on the bottom of the pond and it collects debris.  Be sure to empty it often because it gets heavy.  You can't turn off the hose when you lift the vacuum out of the pond, so be prepared to get wet. Either that or go back to the hose bib, turn off the water in between each emptying.
Some look like this, but there are other shapes available as well.

Instead of using the large holed mesh that you buy at the swimming pool store, use the leg of an old pair of panty hose. It will pick up finer debris as well.
Get ideas like this and more in my new book, A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond available here.
Join us at to ask questions you may have and get answers from experts from all over.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Water Lily Planting



We planted the water lilies in the black square mesh type plastic buckets. Tonight I realize one had fallen over and now the dirt particles are floating around the water and getting kicked up by the fish.

So first stop and I took a gander at your articles to see if you go into plating them which I didn't see. So I went to google and found this link: 

So my question is this a good method and does it really prevent the dirt from getting out, I know that if it fell over and dumped it wouldn't but for all other aspects of it.



That is a great way to plant water lilies. I think they need to be as deep as 3' though.
You can use any planting media that will hold the plant and fertilizer. It doesn't necessarily have to be soil.

Follow up question

When you say plant media, could you give me some examples.

I only ask because the impatiens (annual flowers) are in just water and pebbles and doing fine. I wonder if this would work for lilies?



You can use rockwool, clay, kitty litter, pea gravel, even marbles I suppose. The media needs to be able to keep the pond contained and hold onto a fertilizer tab. Maybe marbles is not such a good idea

Read questions and answers like this one in my new book, A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond. Download it here

And visit my website for more questions and answers. Or ask your own  pond question and get expert answers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pond Disasters

You finally have your pond in your garden and have been told that maintenance is almost nonexistent. And you are right. There are some pond disasters, though, that do happen. To recognize them and be able to deal with them is easy, so don’t panic. 

Most pond disasters are easily fixable, so let’s start with the most common and easiest to deal with. 

My Pond has Turned to Green Pea Soup! 

The pond has turned to green pea soup and you have only had it a few days. First, don’t worry, this is a common problem and an easy fix. Second, do not empty the pond and start over again. You will face the same problem again in a few days. The pond turns green because it is not ecologically balanced. When sun hits water, algae grow. This will never change. Your bird bath gets green, your swimming pool gets green, lakes turn green. So we must balance the pond to keep the algae from growing. 

If your pond water turns green, have a look at it and decide if the water has suspended microscopic particles of algae in it or if there is something floating around in there that looks like angel hair spaghetti. You will have no problem seeing the difference. 

If the water is green from microscopic suspended algae, here’s why: If sun hits water, algae grow. If we want the algae to be filtered out, we can do it easily and ecologically. Figure out the square footage of your pond (Length times width) and add one bunch of anacharis (submerged vegetation) per square foot of surface area. The anacharis filters out algae. It also is an oxygenator, so fish can breathe and is great goldfish food. Don’t worry because it grows faster than goldfish can eat it. You have now solved most of your algae problem. 

Next, cover about 1/2 of the surface area with floating plants. That will keep half of the pond in the shade, will keep the water cooler, the fish happier and the sun from being so brutal. Floating plants could be water hyacinths (illegal in some states, so check with your local extension service), water clover, parrots’ feather, water lilies or any of the other floating plants. 

You now have a balanced ecosystem that will keep itself clear with no help from you as long as you don’t have koi or feed goldfish. 

My Pond is Leaking! 

Another easily fixable disaster is a waterfall leak. I get calls all the time, ”My pond is leaking.” Most of the time, I say, ”No, it isn’t.” And then explain that most likely the reason the water level is falling is because water is leaking from the back or sides of the waterfall. 

Turn off the waterfall pump. Fill the pond up with water. Don’t forget the dechlorinator. Leave it for 24 hours. Tomorrow, see if the water level is where you left it. Look at that, it is! So now you know that water is somehow leaking out the back or sides of the waterfall. Turn the pump on. Have a look around the waterfall. Most of the time you will find the leak immediately because you can see it. Tip the rocks or move the hoses towards the pond so all the water returns to the pond and your leak problems are over. Occasionally water is splashing out, so check for that as well. If you have statuary, make sure there was not a strong wind blowing and water from the spitting statuary is not being blown out. Also, if the statue is on the side of your pond check it to make sure water is not dripping down the side or front statue and out of the water. 

If you are using a weir or biofalls for a waterfall, check at the edges. Sometimes the water can hit a rock and splash out; other times the biofilter box can move around and the seal between the box and the liner can fail. 

Water is Splashing Out! 

When dealing with splashing water, remember this: Water cannot fall more than one half the width of what it is falling into without splashing. If the area the water is falling into is 4’ across, the water will splash if it falls from more than 2’. This is universal and can be difficult to overcome. You can make the falls lower, you can make the width wider. But if you have purchased a wall fountain or a three tier fountain and put it in a small area, resign yourself to refilling often. 

Read about these solutions and more in my new book, A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond available for download here.

Learn more about ponds from our experts at
We have a good time there exchanging pond ideas.  Check out the new birdbath idea posted today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Clearing up Green Water

I started my pond fresh a few months ago. I scrubbed it down (gag!) and cleaned it the best I could without poking a hole in the pre-fab liner with my foot. I have a small 50 gallon that usually plagues me with all sorts of issues. I noticed that literally about 9 hours after scrubbing it down there was, no joke, at least 2 inches of algae growing on the sides. It was like magic. I let it go.. I had one potted plant in it and that was it for then.

The weather got warmer and I dropped an Eco-Bio block in it since I had that in the plastic pond liner I had on my side porch to keep my fish alive during the winter. So, my fish were transferred to the outside green pond. I then dropped two water hyacinth in there and that was it. So two floaters and one potted plant and my 4 comets.

Let me tellya, this pond is CRYSTAL clear. There is not one speck of algae in it. I usually have the terrible green water.. string algae and whatnot. I have never been able to see beyond 6 inches below surface. We have had some spells of 98 degree weather for days on end.. I can see to the bottom of this pond. I am wondering if it's not the Eco Bio block I threw in there. What else could it be? I am baffled but happy.

Also, before I put the fish in there, there was the sweetest frog. He would croak at us every time we went out.. nice little fella. Well, as soon as the fish were put in there.. GONE! He split. Why won't frogs stay with the fish?

My fish aren't anywhere near large enough to eat him.. what's the deal? I want both, not either or. Perhaps when my algae bog cleared up, he wasn't interested anymore!

Pondlady sez:

I suspect it was the Eco Bio that did the job. And chances are your frog is around somewhere, just dug in to get out of the heat.

Put some submerged vegetation in under those hyacinths, don't feed those fish and you will have clear water all summer. And keep using the Eco Bio thing. Looks like it is working!

Read about keeping your pond water clear and more in my new book, A Practical Guide for Building and Maintaining your Pond.  You can download it here

And join us at for more pond info.  Ask questions and get expert answers.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Pond is too Small

I live in Orlando, florida and have recently installed a pond on my patio. It is a 25 gal. above the ground barrel pond with 3 anacharis and 2 hardy water lilies. I have a fountain and a filter as I have a few fish in the pond. I also have a snail and a plecostamus for cleaning. the filter is rated for 50 gal. My question is how can I stop the goldfish (4 of them) from eating the water lilies? At one time I had 14 lily pads and now I am down to just 8. the lilies are still putting out new growth but they seem to only last about 1-2 weeks before they turn black and die. The snail and pleco take care of the remains. I feed the goldfish about 2 times a day as they are constantly at the water surface. Is there something I can do? Or am I just missing something? The patio is screened in so there is no chance of outside invasion. Thanks,

Pondlady sez: I think I am hearing several problems here. 1) Your fish are eating your water lilies
2) Your lilies are turning black and dying.
3) a combination of the two

I have a question for it the lily pads or the lily blooms that are turning black and dying. If it is the blooms, they open and close for about 3 days and then die. You must cut them off at the base of the plant, remove them and not let them foul the pond water. If it is the lily pads, you have some sort of lily disease, probably aphids.

Mix up a solution of a quart of water, a tsp of vegetable oil and a few drops of dishwashing liquid and spray the lily pads. Remove all the black ones before you do that.

If it is your fish eating your lilies, you have too many fish. You may have one linear foot of fish per 25 square foot of pond surface.

If you are feeding your fish, they are getting too big for your small pond. They should eat the anacharis and the anacharis grows faster than the fish can eat it. So, trim back your fish population, buy a few more bunches of anacharis so you have 1 bunch per sf of pond surface, stop feeding the fish and you should be OK.

Oh, and you really don't have enough room for 1 water lily let alone two. So give one away to a friend and keep yours trimmed back. Trim the outer ring of pads whenever a new ring forms. They may be turning black because they can't be in the water.

Read about problems like this one and more in my new book.  YOu can download it here.

If you have pond questions, you can get answers at my website, 

See you there.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Water Lily Division

Questions asked and answered at


My water lily floats . There are so many roots that it bust out of its pot and the roots are huge. I guess I have to find a huge pot and keep it down with rocks somehow? It takes up almost the whole pond.


It is time to divide and repot the lily. 

Read about water lilies and more in my new book, A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond.  Download it here

Ask your questions and get answers at
Join us today at

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Filamentous Algae aka Blanketweed aka String Algae

We get questions:

Hi, It's me again.

I worked furiously in March to clean out my pond, and you all were a great help. However my enthusiasm, and your great help did not prevent the weather in PA from going cold for the month of April. So I let my pond sit, with the waterfall going 8 hours a day from mid March to now.

I have been calling nurseries around here waiting to get some new plants in there, and then once the plants came in I would put in the fish (I found a guy for that too) however, looking at my pond 2 months after the clean out i see what looked like a green haze, or some fine green cotton candy, I pulled some out and see that it is more like seaweed.

Is this good (that I have food for my future fish), or is this bad (that all the stuff I tried to remove in March is coming back), or something in between?

FYI the nurseries around here are claiming that the water plants should not go in until memorial day.

Thanks in advance


That is filamentous algae. Which species it is is difficult to determine without a microscope. Note that it is most abundant just below the waterfall, where there is a strong current. It likes moving water. Your pond area looks susceptible to influx of nutrient from rain runoff. Nutrient runoff into the pond, especially phosphorus, is the likely source of your algae growth. With your small pond, the best treatment is to first stop the runoff into the pond and then manually remove the algae. I suggest the use of a toilet brush.

Here is a good article on filamentous algae in ponds:

Filamentous algae

More discussion:

After you remove as much of the string algae as you can, you can use Microbe-Lift PL to keep it gone.  H202 works too. Also I have poured a can of beer in a week and that works. Cheap beer.

But the fish do love to eat it.  It's we humans who think it's awful.

Put plants in your pond after the last danger of frost has passed.

You can read more about blanketweed, aka filamentous algae, aka string algae in my new book, A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining a Pond" Download it here

Join us with your questions at

Friday, May 18, 2012

Snails in Ponds


My fish(gold fish) winter with a friend, but we bought some more this winter to keep in an aquarium to grow up to be pond fish. We also bought a large snail. We have had him/her (is there a way to tell?) for 5 propagation. Can I put him in the pond with the rest of the fish now. He is all alone in the aquarium  and we would like to shut that down. Also have a plecostomus...have heard conflicting reports weather the actually help or hurt the cleanup of the pond.

p.s. Don't know what kind of snail...he is about 1 1/2 inches or so. Fast mover...big mouth. If I put him in will he stay? Came from fish store.
I also wonder, will I be able to find him when we shut down for winter?


Sure you can put your snail in the pond. If you live where it freezes solid, your snail may not make the winter. Plecostomus are great fish for clean up, but as tropical fish, often they do not survive winters either. They do in the deep south and lemme tellya, nothing will wake you up faster than having one that is 6 or 8" long slither over your bare foot while you are cleaning a pond.

Snail is now in pond, would like to get a few more but worried I will end up with 37,000 of them.
Yes, I live in northern Wisconsin, all our fish come indoors for winter. Our pond is only 2.5 feet deep.
I am new at ponding..probably wouldn't have chosen to do so but I bought a house that had a large pond and waterfall in the back yard. We are learning.. your site has been very helpful. Went the other day and got several bunches of anacharis grass, some hyacinth and water lily. We are not feeding our fish!
Our pond gets full sun for only an hour to an hour and half a day the rest of the time it has light/dappled shade. I will check to see if we have enough cover for fish.
What temp should my pond water be staying around for plants and fish to be happy? Right now it is around 70* F.

Further discussion

The 70ยบ temps are fine. Below 55 is when you can start to have problems.
You need one bunch of anacharis per square foot of pond surface and one linear foot of fish per 25 sf of pond surface.

To catch fish in the winter, pour warm water in the pond. The fish will come to the warm water.

You are right about the snails. One is good. Two = thousands and they crunch under your bare feet.
Your water lily may not bloom well with little sun, but try it and see. Can't hurt.

You can read about snails and more in my new book, A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond.
Download it  here.

And for discussions like this one, join us on

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring Pond Care

Preparing for Spring 

Spring has arrived here in New Orleans, where I live, so it's time for spring pond care. I know you folks who live in northern climes are still feeling some nip in the air, so you will wait a bit before prepping your pond for spring. 

But for us, we are excited that our fish are swimming around, our plants are poking green shoots above the water, our waterfalls have come back to life and we are relaxing out of doors in our wonderful spring weather. 

We cannot relax just yet, because our temperatures are still fluctuating as are yours. Just because you have a 70 degree F day does not mean that you can start feeding koi. They must not be fed until the pond water temperatures are stable at 55 degrees F at night. Remember, if you have a balanced pond and no koi, you never feed your fish. 

Things to Have 

Check your filter. It is clean? Even if it looks clean, it probably is not. So give it a good cleaning. If you have a biofilter, give it a kick start with a bacteria/enzyme product like Microbe-Lift PL to ensure a good bacteria colony starts to grow in your biofilter. 

Check your pump. Clean it up. Check all your hoses for leaks or cracks. Nothing is worse than coming home from work and finding your pond dry because a hose leaked and your pond is nearly dry. 

Make sure you have a dechlorinator on hand. You will need it. I know you think you won’t, but you will. Here’s what happens. You decide to top off the pump. The phone rings. Then you realize you need to get to the bank before it closes, so you dash out. While you are out, you decide to take care of a few more errands. You return home a couple of hours later. Oops!! Your yard is flooded and your fish are lying motionless at the bottom of the pond. Add dechlor immediately. Start the pump is it was not already running. 90% of the time, you can save your fish. 

Keep Microbe-LIft PL on hand for blanketweed or string algae growth. With warmer temperatures, algae begins to grow quickly. 

Check your nets. Are they useable? It might be time to replace them. 

It never hurts to have a few hose clamps in your pond drawer or on your pond shelf. Those rascally things always break when you don’t have any spares. 

Do you have spare pumps? If so, check them now to see if they still work. Often when a pump is stored out of water, seals can break, especially if the pump was in a freezing garage or shed. 

Things to Do 

If you have chemicals, fertilizers or fish food left from last summer, throw it away. Most likely they have lost potency or have become rotten. It’s best just to dispose of them and start over. 

If you have leaves or other debris in your pond, remove it now. As the water heats up, the debris begins to decompose, fouls your water and fish can die quickly. Spring is a great time to totally clean out your pond. Remove all water, all equipment, scrub the sides lightly (no soap), rinse, use a wet vac to get the last of the dirty water out and then replace everything. Your fish and plants will thank you for it. 

Check your fish for any illnesses or wounds. If your fish are still a big sluggish, leave them alone. They are not fully awake until the water temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees F. 

Within a couple of weeks after your water reaches 55 degrees F, you can start exchanging 10% of your water weekly. Pond water is the best fertilizer in the world. Pump it into your veggie or flower beds. Water exchanges keep nitrites from building up and keep your fish alive, healthy and happy. 

Check your water plants. Spring is a great time for dividing and repotting. Remember, do not use any soil full of organic matter. I have had my best luck with water plants by potting them up in sand. I do not fertilize any pond plants except water lilies. They grow fast enough utilizing fish waste without having those plants leaping out of their pots by adding extra fertilizer. If you have extra plants after you have divided them, you can give them to a neighbor or friend. Remember, though, that many water plants can grow in low, damp spaces in your garden. So if you have taro, umbrella plants, or papyrus, plant them in your garden. Be aware they are very, very invasive, so be careful where you put them. 

If you have lost some of your cover or floating plants, now is the time to replace them. Your fish are happiest with 1/2 of the top of the pond covered. That gives the fish a place to hide from predators and keeps them cool in the heat of the summer. It also keeps the blazing sun from helping algae grow in your crystal clear water. 

Water lilies will start to grow when the water reaches about 65 degrees consistently. If you removed them from your pond and stored the corms in damp sand, you can pot them up and put them in the water with the top of the pot about 6” below the water surface. Do not fertilize them until the first leaves reach the top of the pond. Then use an aquatic plant fertilizer. I use a tab that I can just poke into the sand. If I am out of those, I have used Job’s Tomato Spikes or lacking those, Job’s Tree Spikes. Take the tree spike, whack it with a hammer to divide into 4 pieces. Use one piece at a time. Throughout the summer, your lilies want to be fertilized at least once monthly. Do not over fertilize or you will be feeding algae as well as your pond plants. 

Things to Watch Out For 

Be careful as you are beginning to play in your pond again. Big Daddy bullfrog is snoozing between rocks lying in wait for a tasty fly. If you disturb him, he will jump and scare the pants off you. 

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Water Lily Question

Water lily question:
I recently introduced 6 fully grown water lillies to my 5000 gal pond. The leaves are starting to yellow and some have small brown/black spots on them. It is a full sun pond with a pump transferring water at rate of 600 gal per hour.

Pondlady sez: It could be that the water lilies need feeding. They like to be fed every 10 - 14 days with Pondtabbs or other aquatic plant fertilizer. The also like to have the tops of their pots at least 18" below the surface of the water and are happier even deeper. And remember, the outer ring of leaves gets yellow and needs to be pinched off periodically so the new leaves can grow. Same with the flowers. They will open and close for about 3 days and then die. Pick them off immediately.
Another reason for yellow leaves could be the placement of the plants.  Water lilies hate to be in moving water.  Especially if the water is hitting on the pads.  If that is happening, move the lilies. 6 full grown lilies could easily be too many for your pond.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Skimmers? Are They Worth the Money

A skimmer is a plastic box mounted outside the pond and accessed through a hole the liner.  It is underground and mounted just at water level. They usually contain both a pump and filter media. The purpose of it is to suck leaves, right into skimmer instead of letting them settle to the bottom of your pond.  The leaves and debris usually sink to the bottom of the pond before they flow into the skimmer, so I advocate not buying them.  They cost a bunch of dollars and require a huge hole through the liner that has a tendency to leak after a few years and can give you all kinds of problems you don't want.
They do provide water level safety not letting the pump pump all the water out of the pond if there is a waterfall problem, because they are up from the bottom by 2 ' inside the skimmer. 
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Pond Pump Troubleshooting

If your pump stops pumping, touch it to see if it is running. You will feel it humming.  If it is, check hoses. Unplug the pump and look at the impeller to see if something is stuck in there. If it is not running, check your GFCI outlet. You do have one, don't you? If not, get one. If so, push the button to reactivate the circuit. If it does not come back on, you probably have a defective pump. If the circuit continues to break, let it dry out and try it again.
Submersible pumps have a safety switch built in that turns the pump off when it gets too hot. Intermittent starting and stopping means your pump is getting too hot, shutting itself off and when it cools, it is starting again. Soon your pump will stop altogether having burned out. Start planning for a new pump as soon as your pump begins its intermittent behavior.
If the impeller is not spinning freely, check to see if there is junk in there.  Remove the junk with a screwdriver and keep moving the impeller with the screwdriver until the impeller moves freely.
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

How to Build a Waterfall

The pond question I get asked most frequently is, “How do you build a waterfall?” And it is a hard question to answer. The easy answer is that I stack the rocks up until I like they way they look. Wouldn’t it be nice if that is all there was to it? 
Waterfalls are a mix of art and engineering, a strong back and willingness to get wet. You must be in the pond with the pump turned on to properly build a waterfall. 
Building a waterfall is either simple or difficult depending on the point of view of the builder. We want them to look natural, like they just started happening in the rocks of our gardens, never mind that we had to buy the rocks because we live where no rock has ever been found. New Orleans, where I live, has never grown a rock in its existence, so we have to buy them and make them look as if they, indeed, did grow here and so did the waterfall. 
Keep It in Scale 
Most people want a huge waterfall that is completely out of scale for their pond and would look better in front of a casino in Las Vegas. Others want a tiny waterfall that just trickles. My job is to know what they really want, build it and know ahead of time that they will love it. 
Using a Weir 
The easiest way to build a waterfall is to use a weir. A pond weir is a plastic box. It collects water that the pump has pumped into it. One side of the box is lower than the rest and has a lip on it so water will go over it and back into the pond. 
These can be effective when building a waterfall. Simply elevate them above your pond, usually positioning them level in the dirt you have dug out to make your pond, put tubing from your pump into the weir. When the weir fills up, a sheet of water will fall over the weir and into your pond. You can hide the weir with rocks so no one can see the plastic box. Also, if you have a biofilter, you can put it in the weir. As an aside, if you do have a biofilter and use lava rocks in it, put them in several mesh bags, not just one. It takes several strong men to lift just one bag out, so use at least three. I usually float some hyacinths or other floating plants in the weir to further camouflage the plastic box. 
Building a Natural Waterfall 
My favorite way to build a waterfall is to start with a semi level surface, slightly raised in the back, at the same level as your pond in front. From there, standing in the pond, build the waterfall using the same kind of rocks you used in your pond construction. Start with large, flat and thin rocks. You can’t build a waterfall with either round rocks or little ones. ALWAYS put your rocks on top of your liner. After you put the first large rock down, run water from the pump over it to make sure the water flows into the pond. If it does not, shim up the rock in the back. If you don’t start on a slight angle, water will fall off the back and drain your pond dry in a few hours. Next, stack two or three thick and chunky rocks on each end of the bottom rock. Those rocks can be as much as 5 or 6” thick. Make sure they are flat on two sides because you are going to build the rest of your waterfall on top of them. If you have two large flat rocks on the ground level, you need more chunky rocks to rest the second level on. 
Use two large thin rocks side by side on the bottom to make a wider waterfall. Wide is better than high. 
Next place the second level of flat, thin and large rocks on the chunks. Again run water over to make sure the flow is going in the pond and not over the edge. Continue making levels, shimming as needed, until you like your waterfall or you run out of rocks. 
I have found that the easiest way for me to build the falls is for me to be in the water and have a couple of strong helpers placing rocks for me. I can then move them around until they are where I want them. 
The Engineering Part of Waterfall Building 
The back of the waterfall is equally important. Shimming must be done to keep the angle toward the pond and proper placement of rocks is most important to ensure stability of the falls. You don’t want the entire structure falling in the water during the first wind, nor on someone’s foot when they walk close to see how you did that. 
The Art Part of the Waterfall Building 
To finish your waterfall, place your hose or hoses where you like them, put a rock on top to hold them in place. Now put a tiny rock in front of the hose to spread the water out. Put some plants in the back to hide your hoses and soften the rocks. 
You will be amazed at your talent and so will your friends.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Variegated Acorus

Acorus, middle of picture, installed in Ocean Springs MS

Variegated Acorus is a sweet flag, invasive as hyacinths. It grows naturally along banks of any water, maybe a mud puddle if the puddle is there long enough. I keep it potted up in the pond to keep it under control. When starts jumping out of its pot, just whack off all the stems coming from every hole in the pot. If you don't watch out, it will break the pot in its haste to get free.
It gets 12 - 18" tall in the pot and then starts getting wider.  I usually divide it yearly.  After a few years, people will start avoiding you if they see you coming with more acorus to share with them.  But it is pretty, not grown for its flowers, but for the foliage.
It can handle partial shade and is hardy, surviving in zone 5 down to zero degrees or colder.  I am sure it doesn't grow as fast and furious in the cooler weather like it does in zone 9a where I am.
Acorus gets scale...all the time. Here's what I do. I cut the acorus back to about 1" tall and suberged the pot, plant and all. When it comes back up out of the water, the scale is gone, drowned.
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Friday, May 11, 2012

National Teachers Week

National teachers' week this year was May 7th to 11th.  Who knew we had a teachers' week?  Isn't every week teachers' week? Shouldn't it be?

We don't much care about teachers in the US.  We want babysitters for children. As far as learning, we want mediocre.  We like mediocre. After all, folks who don't think are easier to control by the institutions that run the country, so keeping complacency and apathy as something to aspire to is important.  Being intellectual is considered slightly peculiar and something to avoid.

We have not respected teachers in our history. Teaching was relegated to women and historically women's jobs have been underpaid and pushed to the bottom of the professional heap.  

I wish that education was prized in the US.  I grew up in the 40's and 50's when going to school was something we looked forward to and couldn't wait to do.  In my little town in Michigan, teachers were looked up to and admired.   I was taught and I learned. By fantastic teachers.

I had teachers who expected all of us to learn, to pay attention and to treat the classroom as a special place, an honored place, a place to have fun and respect everyone else in the classroom, including the teacher.

My parents were deeply involved in my education, meeting my teachers. They were concerned about how well I was doing in school.  I learned.  I made it through the necessary classes with tough teachers who would not accept anything except the best I could do. 

Because of teachers, I carried on in school until I got a terminal degree in philosophy. My teachers were so impressive that I wrote thank you notes to my teachers that inspired me throughout my elementary and secondary school years.  They were incredible.  

Wouldn't it be great if we as a country felt that way?  Respect teachers. It's good for your kids, good for the family and good for the country.

And because of those teachers, I have written a book.  A Practical Guide to Building and Maintaining your Pond is available here:

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Disappearing Water

Water levels way down at Blanchard Springs, near Mountain View AR
We all know that one of the biggest problems facing the world today is lack of water.  Our rivers are being diverted to cities for ever growing need, to farms for irrigation to grow food for animals to eat and we are losing water to climate change.  Our colder regions are not getting as much snow and warmer regions are not getting as much rain as 20 years ago.  So our rivers are drying up, our lakes shorelines are receding and we should fear for the shortage of potable water. 

So, we want to have a pond.  Is this wasting a precious resource?  Is it just another example of people putting want above need? I say no.  Well, it's because you are a pond builder, you say.  Still, I say no.  People want vast expanses of lawns. In their gardens, in public spaces.  Lawns take vast amounts of water, water that could otherwise be used for satiating the thirst of people.  Lawns get irrigated, they get fertilized, they get cut using gas gulping machines that pollute the atmosphere. And next week they get all those things again.

Ponds get filled with water once a year ideally. They need topping off occasionally when conditions lead to evaporation, but that's rare. 

Ponds need little maintenance and certainly never need mowing. They provide places for wildlife to visit, breed and live.  Birds, bees, toads, frogs and yes, the occasional bird eating egret or heron to get dinner.

Ponds can be used for growing food if owners wish, but even if they don't, they are beautiful additions to the landscape and don't use precious resources.

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