Four Steps To Cleaning Backyard Ponds

If you want a simple system for cleaning backyard ponds, this should do the trick. It’s one of those “interesting” but necessary garden chores (can be odiferous for those who don’t have ponds and certainly messy)  we face when we choose to keep fish or have a pond.
Here’s the deal.


You can do this chore in either the spring or fall but see below for why I like fall.

Step One: Reduce Water Level with Pump and Catch Fish

Gradually lower the water level (use your pond pump system to pump the water out rather than put it through the filter/skimmer system) and net the fish.
Once all the fish are caught, then you start cleaning the pond in the normal way and pumping the excess water from the bottom.

Step Two: Use A Strong Jet of Water

I use a strong jet of water to wash out the crevices between the rocks in pond bottoms. This water flows down to the centre of the pond (the lowest part if you built properly) and that’s where my pump is sitting.
It pumps out the dirty water. The dirty water is removed from the pond and I continue to forcefully hose down the sides as they are exposed.

Step Three: Bottom and Sides

When I get to the bottom of the pond sides, I work the hose jet into the bottom crevices and continue to stir up the dirt – the pump keeps working and the dirt is flushed out of the pond.
Cleaning fish ponds doesn’t have to be a big chore, it can be a somewhat “earthy” smelling chore but if done in the fall before the leaves have a chance to start rotting, then odours aren’t bad.

Step Four Fill The Pond Back Up Again

The final step in cleaning fish ponds is to fill them back up again. I always leave my pond filled in the fall.

Questions and Answers

Timing For Tree Leaves
And yes, I do wait until after the leaves have fallen from nearby trees to clean the pond. There’s little sense in my mind to clean the pond and then let the trees muck it all up again.
Question: Do I have to remove the fish to clean out the pond? I have a lot of fish.
A: No you don’t but… if your pond is really dirty, then you’re going to be stirring up all kinds of clouds of “stuff” and you won’t get it all out.
The big fish will tolerate short bursts of dirty water (and the heavy particles will all settle out quickly) but you won’t get your pond fully cleaned if you don’t remove the fish. Or, you’ll spend more time cleaning the pond than you would have if you had removed the fish.

I can’t catch all my fish because they’re too small.

A: Hmm. Well, you might get a finer net or you might simply decide to eliminate them by pumping them along with the dirty water.
What about cleaning fish ponds in the spring?
A: No problem. You can do it in spring or fall.

  • Fall has the advantage of you having to catch your fish and overwinter them indoors.  You also remove the leaves that could rot and consume all the oxygen in the water (killing the fish) over the winter.
  • Spring has the advantage of starting fresh with a new season and you’re probably more enthusiastic.

I prefer the fall as you get the season’s dirt cleaned out before it starts rotting and stinking really badly. But it really is your choice.
And you can find all the tools and supplies you need for your backyard pond right here

You can read other notes about backyard ponds here

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