Month by month guide to your pond


January is often the time when the weather is cold enough to freeze the surface of your pond. This is not good for wildlife and fish for any period of time as it prevents noxious gases that build up in the water from escaping. It also stops the pond absorbing oxygen from the atmosphere. Make a few holes in the ice to allow these natural processes to continue by filling a tin with hot or boiling water and placing on the ice until it melts or holding a pan of boiling water on the ice: try to avoid shattering the ice using heavy objects as this can create shock waves which are not good for fish and other wildlife.

Floating a rubber ball on the surface before it freezes can act as a safety valve for the build up of pressure that can be exerted on the sides of as pond which can cause damage to concrete ponds with vertical sides.

Now is a good time to start thinking about ordering or planning for 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. If you are going for mainly or exclusively native planting then due to the nature of many of our native pond plants the style will tend towards the more informal rather than ornamental.

Be sure to consider all the different categories of pond plant to create the best possible ecosystem for wildlife and a well balanced pond. This will include oxygenating and floating pond plants, marginals and deep water plants. For marginals try to ensure a good range of flowering throughout the year and a good mix of growing habits, from low rafting through to the taller upright architectural plants. If you don't know where to start then we do a range of ready made collections for various sizes of pond if you click here.

It is okay to introduce pond plants at this time of year as they can be planted at pretty much any time of year, provided that the pond isn't frozen (we struggle to dispatch during prolonged severe freezing periods as our plants get stuck in their water crates!). Bear in mind that most pond and bog plants will have little or no top growth at this time of year but will soon start to grow when the temperature starts to rise in early spring.

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.


You may start to see some early signs of life in the pond, and if fairly mild frogs can start to become active, and amorous! Some early flowerers will be making good progress with new leaves and shoots, and in some years Marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris) may start to flower, and also early primroses like the native vulgaris.

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 cm 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.


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. Marsh marigolds should be in flower and Bog bean (Menyanthes trifoliata) will be starting to produce some pond cover before flowering in April.

Water lilies should be starting to show signs of life and should be raised to be inspected and can be fed with slow release fertiliser, something like Osmocote 5-6mth. If they are out-growing their basket then they should be split and repotted, or potted up into a larger basket to give them a new lease of life and help ensure they flower well in the coming season.

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. See the pond products page for guidance on the various sizes of bales for different volumes of pond. Alternatively you can use Ecopond Barley Bio which is a liquid treatment that needs to be applied regularly throughout the season.

Good plants to encourage insects to the pond are Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife), Cardamine pratensis (Cuckoo flower, for the bog garden), Mentha aquatica (water mint), Lychnis flos-cuculi (Ragged robin -bog), Water figwort (Schrophularia auriculata) and Hypericum tetrapterum (Square stemmed St John’s wort)


There are four groups of aquatic plants:

Oxygenators – with foliage below the water, these plants compete with algae for nutrients and increase oxygen levels. Ideally no more than one third of the pond should be filled with oxygenators, so start to thin them out if they are getting too dense. Leave surplus oxygenators by the side of the pond for a few days to allow any pond creatures to escape back into the pond, then compost or put out with your green waste -never dispose of in the wild.

Deep water – foliage floats on the surface shading the surface of the water helping to keep it cool, cutting down sunlight to inhibit growth of algae and providing shelter for fish and other pond creatures. Ideally small and medium sized ponds should have surface coverage of at least 50% from deep water plants when in leaf.

Marginals - with foliage above the surface providing food and nectar for visiting wildlife. Good densities of marginal plants will extract excess nutrients from the pond and help to control algae.

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

Caltha’s (kingcups) and Menyanthes trifoliata (bog bean) should be in full swing; Aponogeton (water hawthorn) is the first of the deep water plants and may have been flowering for several months -it will dies back in the summer and flower again in the autumn into winter.

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.


By late spring the growing season is starting to get into full swing with many more plants in flower. This will include the lovely Water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides) and Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga) both of which are rafting plants and excellent for newts, which will be making an appearance in the pond to mate and lay eggs in the leaves of these plants. The eggs are protected as the newts cleverly fold the soft leaves over and seal the edges.

Some of the early pond irises will be coming into flower, including the ever popular Versicolors, and Watercress (Nasturtion officinale) should be producing some pretty white flowers and growing strongly to help condition the water and keep algae at bay. In the bog garden the Sibirica and Ensata irises should be starting to bloom along with the beautiful candelabra primulas.

If you have opted for an ornamental pond it is a good time for adding fish to the pond provided new plants have had time to establish, however bear in mind they are not ideal if you are looking to encourage diversity of wildlife in your 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, so avoid adding fish as they will eat the spawn and disturb the natural balance of the pond.

May is usually the time for a couple of the few true floating pond plants to emerge, so any Frogbit that has been lying dormant at the bottom of the pond from last year should start to sprout from its pip-like bud and float to the surface as a tiny plantlet that will grow and multiply rapidly as the weather warms. The other is the striking Water soldier which will gradually rise from the bottom of the pond and provide an ideal platform for any emerging dragonflies.

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


Established lilies begin to flower and will continue through to early-mid September with one or two varieties such as the lovely salmon pink Colorado and pale yellow Chromatella sometimes flowering into October, and are the last to lose their leaves. 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). Water figwort (Schropularia auriculata) will be coming into flower and though not showy this plant is a magnet for pollinators such as honey bees, bumblebees and the common wasp and is designated as a Plant for Pollinators by the RHS: be sure to dead head after flowering however as it will readily self-seed. Cut down Caltha foliage to encourage new growth and maybe a few autumn flowers. The native Arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia) is a late starter, but should be now be putting in an appearance with its striking erect arrow-shaped foliage and very pretty purple-centred white flowers. The native Yellow flag iris should be in full swing along with its smaller cultivar the White flag.

Monitor the water level and top up if the level gets to low and 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!


This month will see some of the later flowering marginals come into their own providing further food for the pollinators including the tall and free-flowering Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), the Water mint (Mentha aquatica) and the non-native pickerel weeds, both blue and white (Pontederia cordata). in the bog garden the Astilbes with be producing their glorious plumes of flowers which will last through August and then provide some late season interest as they gracefully bronze.

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.


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.

In the bog garden the beautiful Day lilies (Hemerocallis) will be at their peak, throwing up sprays of stunning flowers that each just last a day but just keep on coming, and in the pond (or bog garden) the Marsh marigolds should have their second flowering of the year.

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


The pond will remain an attractive feature for a few weeks yet. Some established lilies continue to flower and of the marginals, Cyperus (sweet galingale) will still be looking good along with the Lobelias. In the bog garden the Flag lilies will be starting to flower and can carry on right through to November with their wonderful displays to brighten up the duller days.

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. If fertilising with a slow release fertiliser use an 8-9 month release pattern now or if leaving until the spring use a 5-6 month one.

Most plants will need to have their foliage trimmed but some will die back naturally - the foliage of deep water plants like water lilies will decompose in the water just leaving a greasy deposit on the surface so it is best to regularly remove these.

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.


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 can prove 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 so providing heaps of leaves or stones or branches 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.


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.

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.


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 or mulching.

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.