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Month by month

Month by month guide to your pond

January

Now is the time to start thinking about ordering any new plants for your pond; you will need to decide if you are going to have a wildlife pond, an ornamental pond or even a mixture of both.

It is okay to start planting if the weather is mild enough (our plants are supplied as plug plants so have a good root system already established); but you will need to check the plants are not disturbed by any visiting wildlife.

You can protect newly planted areas with chicken wire or netting; as soon as the temperature increases then the plants will begin to grow.

If the water temperature increases to 10 degrees centigrade for any length of time fish may become active; they can then be fed with an appropriate floating food pellet e.g. wheat germ which is easier for the fish to digest.

Carry out regular maintenance checks on your pond to see if any repairs are needed after any winter storms or wildlife visiting the area.

Build a ramp for hedgehogs and other wildlife to escape if your pond doesn’t have a shallow beach area.

February

If the weather is mild carry out any maintenance work not already done in the autumn.  Split and re pot any plants which have grown out of their baskets; and tidy water falls and bog gardens.

This is a good month to start digging new ponds or extending existing ponds.  Look at the surrounding area to see if it is possible to add a bog garden or even a stream or waterfall to add more interest and increase oxygen levels to the pond. 

Consider adding a seating area near the pond to enable you to enjoy watching the wildlife visiting the pond as the season progresses.

Monitor the level of the pond in case there has been winter damage; let the pond find its own level then check that level for damage to the liner, drain the pond to a level at least 10 cms below if it is a PVC or butyl liner as you would need to dry the area thoroughly to patch the damaged area.

If it is badly damaged you may need to consider relining the pond.  For concrete ponds you may need to seek specialist advice.

March

This month heralds the start of wildlife visiting ponds; frogs and toads will be inspecting the pond ready for the spawning season. Hedgehogs could visit if there’s easy assess to water.

These are all welcome visitors to help control garden pests especially slugs and snails! Newts could be arriving to spend their summer in the pond having hibernated nearby over the winter months.

Dragon flies will be inspecting the pond looking for suitable sites to lay their eggs as their larvae are totally dependent on water.  Butterflies and birds will also make use of the pond for drinking and bathing.

If you haven’t a shallow beach area to the pond; provide a ramp to allow easy access to the water enabling any animals which falls in to clamber out safely.

Add barley straw this month as an organic way to control algae in your pond it takes approximately one month to start working.  It works better in moving water, suspend in the water, avoid sitting on the bottom of the pond, allow 50gram for 1000 gallon pond (4500 litres).

Formula for gallons

Length x width x depth in feet x 6.25 will give volume in gallons

Good plants to encourage insects to the pond are Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife), Cardamine pratensis (Cuckoo flower), Mentha aquatica (water mint), Lychnis flos-cuculi (Ragged robin) and Hypericum elodes (St John’s wort)

 

April

There are four groups of aquatic plants:

Oxygenators – with foliage below the water, these plants compete with algae for light and increase oxygen levels. Ideally no more than one third of the pond should be filled with oxygenators

Deep water – foliage floats on the surface shading the surface of the water and providing shelter for fish

Marginals - with foliage above the surface providing food and nectar for visiting wildlife

Free floating – plants sit on the water surface and provide shade which again helps fight algae

Caltha’s (kingcups) and Menyanthes trifoliata (bog bean) are the early marginals to flower; Aponogeton (water hawthorn) is the first of the deep water plants and will also flower again in the autumn.

Continue dividing plants and replanting established baskets and deep water plants; as a general guide divide marginals when they have become invasive i.e. when they have outgrown their baskets.

Water lilies need to be repotted when they have fewer flowers and the leaves are standing erect on the surface of the water. Bog garden plants need to be split every two to three years when the middle of the patch of plants start to die.

 

May

If you have opted for an ornamental pond it is a good time for adding fish to the pond. Consider adding goldfish, shubunkins for a splash of colour! Golden orfe form a shoal and are very active; and tench to feed from the bottom of the pond.

Wildlife ponds will be full of frog and toad spawn, avoid adding fish as they will eat the spawn and disturb the natural balance of the pond.

Caltha’s (kingcups) the single and double form (Plena) will be in flower, giving a lovely splash of colour! Myosotis palustris (forget me not) and Mentha’s (water mint) with their wandering growth can share the margins with taller plants such as Iris, Lythrum, Juncus and Carex sedges. Floating plants can now be introduced.

Remove blanket weed and leave at the edge of the pond for 24 hours to allow any wildlife to return to the pond.

 

June

Established lilies begin to flower and will continue through to October. Colours range from white, pale pink, dark pink and red through to yellow.

Vigorous varieties (Native Alba, Carnea and Gladstoniana) are only suitable for larger pools; the Pygmaea varieties for sinks or tubs. Aponogeton (water hawthorn) may die back during the summer only to flower again in autumn.

Butomus umbellatus (flowering rush) will soon flower, as will the Ranunculus (spearwort). Cut down Caltha foliage to encourage new growth and maybe a few autumn flowers. Sagittaria (arrowhead) is a late starter, but should be now be putting in an appearance

Monitor the water level and top up if the level gets to low; check the pond for exit points for the young frogs and toads to vacate easily.

Weed bog gardens and mulch to keep work to a minimum!  Sit back and enjoy your pond!

 

July

This is the month for the stunning flowers of the water Iris, Iris Pseudacorus (Yellow flag) with yellow flowers has the tallest foliage, and the variegated form is very striking; Iris versicolor has attractive purple flowers; Iris sibirica should be planted with crowns above the water level.

Healthy fish should be active, not motionless at the top of the pool. Gasping fish indicates lack of oxygen; decaying food can deplete oxygen levels. Fish gasping early in the morning but improving as the day progresses, indicates too much submerged plant removing oxygen at night.

Thin out if necessary, the resulting new growth will be beneficial. A fountain will improve oxygen levels, and may be necessary if the pool is stocked to capacity.

Look out for visiting dragonflies and damselflies providing a lively display as they flit around the pond.

 

August

This month is relatively easy as there is little maintenance required so giving you time to relax and enjoy the pond. If the weather is hot then the pond may need topping up, try and use collected rain water to reduce the growth of blanket weed.

Fountains and waterfalls help to boost the oxygen levels and also look good.

The blue flowered Pontederia (blue pickerel) and Sagittaria (arrowhead) with its striking foliage are the marginal’s of the month.

There are many plants which attract wildlife to the pond, these include:-

Ceratophyllum (hornwort),

Hydrocharis (Frogbit);

Ranunculus species (spearwort),

Alisma (water plantain),

Butomus (flowering rush),

Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag),

Mentha species (mint),

Menyanthes (bog bean),

Myosotis scorpoides (water for get me not),

Sparganium (bur reed)

Veronica (brooklime)

All of these plants will be looking good this month

Almost any garden chemical can cause pollution, but insecticides pose the biggest threat. Never use them on pond plants.

 

September

The pond will remain an attractive feature for a few weeks yet. Lilies continue to flower and of the marginals, Cyperus (sweet galingale) will be looking impressive, and Lobelia cardinalis- (with its intense red foliage and flowers) and Zantedeschia (arum lily) are at their best.

Fish will be healthier in the spring if they are fed during the next few weeks. They will need to be in good condition to survive the winter.

Autumn is a good time for cleaning the pool; it also causes fewer disturbances to wildlife at this time of the year. When lifting and splitting established lilies, you will observe one mass of roots and tubers.

Trim off all foliage and any dead tubers then re-pot. Leave fertilizing with a slow release sachet until the spring.

Most plants will need to have their foliage trimmed but some will die back naturally; most of the foliage of deep water plants like water lilies will decompose in the water just leaving a greasy deposit on the surface.

Floating plants will sink to the bottom of the bottom virtually without trace to reappear next spring. Whilst oxygenating plants may still be visible, their foliage will be very delicate and will break if disturbed.

Although herons can raid a pond at any time, it is when gardens become quieter that the risk is greatest. Herons are waders, landing on the lawn and walking into the pool. Trip wires 30cm (l2ins) around and across the pool may deter. The only certain protection is to net the pool completely.

 

October

This is a good time to prepare the pond for winter. The foliage of marginal plants needs tiding up. Water Iris tends to creep to the side of the basket; they can be trimmed back and the excess plants can be potted up as extra stock for your pond or given away.

Marginals with more vigorous growth need trimming back to size to prevent a takeover. Remove any dead foliage and leaves blown into the pool. Net the pond securely against autumn leaf fall. It is the resulting gases from decomposing vegetation beneath the ice that proves fatal to fish.

Tidying up the pool is important at this time, but can be carried out at other times of the year. Emptying ponds and cleaning out should only be carried out for small ponds every 4-5 years while larger ponds can be cleaned every 10 years.

For wildlife ponds it is best not to totally clean the pond; leave a layer of silt in the bottom of the pond allowing any eggs, grubs or larvae to overwinter until they emerge in the spring.

Frogs, toads and newts spend their time outside the pond overwinter; providing heaps of leaves or stones near the pond will encourage them to stay nearby.

From the moment of construction, the wind blows in dust, pollen, blossom and leaves. The resulting silt at the rate of approximately 25mm (1 inch) per annum at the bottom of the pool is harmless, harbouring microscopic life that is essential to the well being of the pool.

Eventually the silt builds up, making the pool shallower; only then is drastic action necessary.

Refill rigid moulded pools as soon as possible after cleaning; otherwise unexpected rain or high water table can cause them to float.

 

November

Chose a nice sunny day to work out in the garden, we still have a few!

Trim back any dead foliage from the marginal plants. It is a good time to tidy any planting baskets removing any excess growth; splitting and re-potting the extra plants.

It is still warm enough to plant new areas if you have any gaps in your planting.

Remove any leaves floating in the pond from fallen trees; if the pond is small then it is a good idea to put a net across to prevent a build up of leaves in the pond.

Covering the pond with a net will also give protection against Herons and cats.

Deep water plants including lilies and water hawthorn will die back naturally so don’t need any special treatment.

Floating plants will gradually sink to the bottom of the pond where they will remain until the spring.

Autumn is a good time to clean the pond; it is recommended to clean small ponds every 4-5 years while larger ponds can be cleaned every 10 years.

For wildlife ponds it is best not to totally clean the pond; leave a layer of silt in the bottom of the pond allowing any eggs, grubs or larvae to overwinter until they emerge in the spring.

Frogs, toads and newts spend their time outside the pond overwinter; providing heaps of leaves or stones near the pond will encourage them to stay nearby.

 

December

Clear away the last of the fallen leaves to prevent them decaying in the water. Tidy bog gardens trimming back the dead and dying foliage, mulch to protect any vulnerable plants  and to act as a weed suppressant (leaf mould is an excellent mulch).

Protect the pond from completely freezing over by placing a large ball in the water; this helps prevent noxious gases building up. Do not break the ice if the pond freezes over as the shock waves can stress your fish. Place a container of warm water on the surface of the pond to melt a hole in the ice.

Protect vulnerable plants like Gunnera, lobelia and Zanteschia from frost by covering with hessian sacks.

You won’t need to feed the fish as the water temperature will have fallen below 8 degrees centigrade.

Take this time to plan a new pond or water feature or to revamp an existing pond. Once the foliage has been cut back to reveal the shape of the original pond you may want to extend the pond by adding a bog garden or stream and waterfall. Check your planting schemes to ensure you have a continuation of colour throughout the season.

We are happy to give advice with planting schemes.

 

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