The Pond Maintenance Checklist for Northern Virginia Landscapes

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Landscape water features such as ponds add an extra dimension of sensory pleasure to your overall backyard experience. But you should be aware that pond maintenance requires an extra level of attention and expertise from your landscape maintenance provider.

Routine inspection and cleaning by knowledgeable landscape maintenance technicians is imperative to ensure the proper functioning of your pond pumping and filtration equipment.

And if your pond happens to be a koi pond, the need for the expert care of a koi specialist is critical to the health and longevity of your koi fish.

So what is required for simple pond maintenance and what else on top of that is required if your pond contains koi fish?

The Pond Maintenance Checklist

Landscape pond maintenance is fairly straightforward. Your Surrounds Garden Management crew will regularly run through a checklist of tasks that includes:

  1. Skimming debris off the surface
  2. Flushing the filters
  3. Maintaining the correct water level
  4. Cleaning filters
  5. Checking the pumping system to ensure it is operating properly
  6. Netting (in autumn to prevent leaf litter from clogging the system) 
  7. Draining and flushing the system to prepare the pond for winter

The first order of business is to confirm that the correct equipment is being used. For a pond to function effectively, the pumping, circulation and filtration system must be adequately sized for the water volume. If a system is incorrectly sized, it will have to work too hard and may need to be replaced prematurely. 

If you plan to grow aquatic plants in your backyard pond, we advise that the pond be located in a sunny spot because plants need at least five hours of sunlight per day to thrive. Also, aquatic plants do best in still water. So, if you wish to include a waterfall in your pond design, you will need to position plants far enough away so they won’t be subjected to turbulence. This is particularly important for floating plants such as lotuses and water lilies.

It is also important to note that plants don’t do well in the presence of fish–because the fish eat them! If you do want to combine fish and aquatic plants, the plants must be separated from the pond water by containers to keep the fish from nibbling on them. The use of floating islands for plants is another strategy for keeping them in the pond but separated from fish.

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Additional Requirements for Koi Pond Maintenance

  1. Filtration. A koi pond requires two types of filtration systems: one extracts waste produced by the fish and other organic debris; the second filter houses beneficial bacteria that convert toxins into harmless substances.
  2. Aeration. Depending on the size and the number of fish in the pond, you may need an aeration device to circulate oxygen through pond water. Sometimes, incorporating a waterfall into the design can fill the need for aeration.
  3. Purification. Pond water must be tested to monitor nitrate levels and to maintain the correct pH balance. Water must be treated because chlorine or other chemical additives present straight from the tap can kill koi fish.
  4. Pond Depth and Size. To keep fish healthy and safe from predators, a koi pond must be at least three feet deep and contain a minimum of 1,000 gallons of water.
  5. Shade. In addition to overhanging foliage to help diffuse sunlight, the pond design should include a slight overhang around the edges to provide additional shade for the fish during the hottest times of the day.

Although items number 4 and 5 in the list above are related to fish pond design rather than pond maintenance, they are important to note here. Why? Because if your pond does not already meet these specifications, it would not be advisable to introduce fish to the environment. 

Pond Maintenance Requires Expertise

backyard pond in woodland setting

Because of the unique needs of live fish, our landscape maintenance staff refer to specialty vendors with expertise in balancing pH, keeping bacteria levels in check, and physically inspecting fish for health.

If you want to deep dive into the topic of koi pond maintenance, we have an article on our website that focuses on fish health called koi pond maintenance tips. Another of our articles will help you understand how to be prepared for winter koi pond maintenance.

Water features, especially ponds, can contribute an extremely desirable and calming effect to a backyard environment, making it feel like a private sanctuary. We just want you to be aware that these beautiful enhancements require a bit more care, attention, and expertise from your landscape maintenance company to keep them beautiful.

If you’d like to learn how to take better care of your pond and water features, schedule a consultation with one of our Garden Management specialists. Perhaps you’ve been wondering how to bring out the fullest expression in your landscape and gardens. Our eBook: Choosing the Right Kind of Landscape Maintenance Firm, is full of valuable information to help you understand the fundamental differences between landscape maintenance companies.

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