How to maintain and care for a garden pond

How to maintain and care for a garden pond






Garden ponds are often a beautiful addition to any landscape design, backyard or garden. They’re a fun and unique way to spruce up your home, and they’re stunning to look at! Before building your own garden backyard pond, though, it’s best to understand how they work and how to care for them. 

This article will provide you with the best tips and tricks for taking good care of and regularly maintaining your garden pond.



How do garden ponds work?


First, it’s important to understand how garden ponds work. Here’s the run-down: Garden ponds operate just like any other outdoor landscaping water feature. Often, a garden pond will have its own aquatic life with aquatic plants like water lilies and fish like koi and goldfish comprising a whole underwater ecosystem right in your yard. Because of this, garden ponds need regular maintenance to keep plants and other pond critters healthy and thriving. Pond plants like algae blooms are notorious growers, so you’ll need to dedicate a little extra time and care to your water garden. 

Standard garden ponds will have a pump and filtration system allowing everything to run smoothly throughout the ecosystem. It also helps streamline pond maintenance and keep the correct balance of pond plants, aeration, water levels and water temperatures throughout the year. It’s also an essential part of keeping your pond water healthy and clear. 

While it’s normal to see a little more green sludge on the water surface and an increased growth of algae during the warmer seasons, they aren’t cause for concern. In fact, this is expected, even in a healthy pond. You can easily remedy the issue with a fishing net or quick cleaning. Another simple way to ensure sustainability of your pond is by preemptively removing excess seed heads before they grow. This way, future weeding and thinning will be significantly less of a problem. 

Now we have the basics covered, keep reading to learn the best practices for building your own garden pond and maintaining it with optimal pond care throughout the year.



How are garden ponds typically built?


A general rule of thumb is, a garden pond with shallow water is best for keeping a healthy ecosystem and clear water. In fact, small fountains work well in a garden pond instead of using bigger systems and features. Garden ponds typically have a liner, an underlayment, a water pump, biological filter and a few other essentials. To get a better understanding of how garden ponds are typically built, let’s dive into the details of construction. 

The first step in constructing a garden pond is to mark or draw out the size and shape of the pond you want. It’s best to do this before you dig. You can mark the outline with pretty much anything, like a rope, measuring tape and string or even some pieces of yarn or chalk. 

When planning your design, it’s important to remember the depth of the pond is far more important than the shape of the pond. This is because a healthy garden pond needs shallow water levels with smooth edges to keep the water clean. Shapes and sizes can vary greatly. Try a more natural shape to appease any wildlife critters who might stop by, or maybe create a more modern shape to cultivate a formal aesthetic in your yard for curb appeal. 

Next, dig a shallow turn with a shovel. Place the turfs aside for safe keeping. They can be used later to secure the liner around the edge of the pond. Remember, don’t dig too deep and don’t put any of the turfs into the pond. Once you have a solid baseline started, you’re ready to measure your desired depth and get digging. 

If you want a shallow garden pond, the deepest area of the garden pond should be no more than about 11.5 inches, and the standard overall depth is usually between 19.5 and 23.5 inches. If you want a deeper pond, aim for at least 24 inches deep. The depth of your pond should accommodate the aquamarine life you plan to introduce to your yard. Also, be mindful of the turf while digging. You don’t want to create a giant cliff around the edge of the pond. The goal here is to carve out a gentle and smooth slope. 

The bottom of your pond should now be at the same level as the bottom of the pond’s turf along the edges. Now, you can move on to the basins of the garden pond. The best way to maintain shallow water in the pond is with shallow basins. Once you’re finished with the basins, your final shape is ready to go. While it probably looks like you barely dug anything in your yard, this is normal. The shallow depth is ideal for your garden pond in the long run. Moreover, it’ll make maintenance and care much easier for you in the future. 

Double-check the levels of the pond with a spirit level. It helps to sturdy the level on top of a piece of wood or any other objects placed along the pond. Place your spirit level to check if everything is balanced before moving on. If everything looks good to go, lay the pond liner evenly underneath the rubber liner. Remove any stones and then add water. It’s best to wait for it to rain or use collected rainwater as opposed to a garden hose. Sometimes, tap water can contain nutrients ill-suited for the ecosystem of a garden pond. However, with the right water pump and filters, either option is feasible to use.



How to clean your outdoor garden pond


Proper cleaning of your garden pond is just as important as properly building it. Small debris and falling leaves can easily be collected with a net and tossed out. If the pond water is clear after this, you can probably wait longer before doing more extensive cleaning. If the garden pond has dark water, and there’s visible buildup of sludge at the bottom, it’s time for a deep cleaning. 

Before you get started, make sure you have the following pond supplies on hand:

  • A cleanout pump with a discharge base
  • A high-pressure nozzle for your garden hose
  • Garden shears to trim pond plants 
  • Containers to temporarily hold aquatic life, including fish and pond plants 
  • A fish net
  • Large buckets to collect debris
  • Chlorine/chloramine detoxifier
  • Algaecides to control algae blooms
  • Cold water beneficial bacteria 

Here’s an overview of the basics:

  • Step 1: Drain the pond water with your cleanout pump, starting at the lowest point in the bottom of the garden pond. Place aquatic life, including pond fish and pond plants, with existing pond water aside in a container somewhere in the shade for now. 
  • Step 2: Gently rinse off the inside of the garden pond with your garden hose or power washer. Remove debris from rock and gravel by rinsing them off. It’s ok to leave some algae alone; just remember to maintain a healthy balance for the ecosystem and keep algae blooms in check. 
  • Step 3: Clean the garden pond filters with a quick rinse off. Also, use your cleanout pump to get rid of any debris lingering on the bottom of the skimmer. Once you’re finished clearing everything out, put the filters, waterfall pumps and mats back in the pond. 
  • Step 4: The last step is to refill the pond with collected rainwater or a garden hose. Add your pond detoxifier to the water. This keeps fish, pond plants and other aquamarine life safe and healthy. Before putting all your pond critters back into the water, let the fish and pond plants adjust to the new pond water temperature first while they’re still in the separate container. Wait 15 minutes or so, then mix some of the new pond water into the container. Mix the water so the water temperature of the container is the same as the pond. Then, place the fish and pond plants back in the pond. 

How often should you clean your garden pond?

It’s good to maintain a regular schedule of quick and small pond cleanings. It’s fairly easy to do on a weekly basis. All you need is a net and a little bit of patience to catch any floating debris and leaves in the pond. 

This is an effective way to reduce the need for deep cleanings, where all the water is replaced, and all pond equipment is removed and cleaned. Deep cleanings are usually needed less frequently. Ideally, a deep clean once every three to five years is frequent enough as long as weekly cleanings are consistent.



How to maintain your garden pond


Maintaining a garden pond can be a bit more difficult than cleaning. However, the best practices are worth the extra time and effort to keep your pond healthy. In addition to a consistent cleaning schedule, here are a few things you can do to keep your garden pond looking and working its best. 

  • Manage your yard landscaping and nearby foliage. 
  • Grow water plants. 
  • Encourage algae production but limit algae bloom growth — they grow fast!
  • Be mindful of how pond water and aquatic life is affected during seasons with colder temperatures.
  • Control ice during the winter months with a deicer. 
  • Keep regular upkeep of the pond pump, biological filter, liners, and fountains. 
  • Keep an eye out for any leaks, runoff pond water, or troubleshooting and repair as needed. 
  • Ensure a consistent water level at all times. Water should remain at the same temperature at all times, as well. 
  • Keep a handy stash of fish food for your garden pond dwellers. 
  • Keep water chemistry and aeration balanced and well-suited for aquatic life.

Are garden ponds hard to maintain?

Regular maintenance of a garden pond has some challenging components to it. There are a lot of working parts to maintain and monitor throughout the year and a whole underwater ecosystem to take care of. 

It’s not hard to maintain a garden pond, but it can be time-consuming. Even so, it’s well worth the extra effort. With proper maintenance and care, your garden pond will be a wonderful addition to your home to enjoy for years to come.



Protect your home systems from costly repairs with Cinch


While garden ponds aren’t covered under a home protection plan by Cinch Home Services, you can still protect many other major appliances and built-in systems in need of repair or replacement due to normal wear and tear. Let Cinch help you find the right coverage so you can worry less about unexpected breakdowns and going over budget and focus more on taking care of your beautiful garden pond. 

Request a free quote today and see how a home warranty by Cinch can give you peace of mind.


Garden ponds are a beautiful addition to any home. But they require proper care. Discover how to create the best maintenance plan for your pond.

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