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.

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