During the summer months there is less for the average pond owner to do except enjoy the pond in its full bloom, along with the weather.
The only consideration is to keep on top of the green water issue and skimming the pond regularly to remove leaves and blanket. Chances are though if you have followed my advice in Spring & winter articles you will have put the groundwork in during Spring. The next big job happens in Autumn.
Autumn sets in
At the end of Summer, the Fall (or Autumn in the UK) will be slowly creeping in. Initially, nothing might seem to have changed as an Indian summer can seem to prolong the warm weather and favourable conditions.
But you have several important tasks to perform before the final winter shut down of your pond, to ensure it remains in the best possible state for the following spring.
Plants will begin to die back as the temperature drops. To ensure that they don’t contribute too much to the waste at the bottom of the pond, you should be harsh and cut them back to just inside the pot level (that is, if you keep your plants in pots, which I do in order to keep them under full control!). If your plants are not kept in pots, you cannot do much to stop them adding to the waste at the bottom of the pond as they die back but some of this will add to the natural cycle in your pond.
Move all of your deep water plant pots (again if you have pots) into the deepest part of the pond (not your marginals – leave them where they sit) to ensure they survive the harsh winter ahead. They will also give the fish some much needed cover with the plants having died or been cut back.
Your first challenge is to clear out the leaves which fall in and around your pond. Any leaves that enter the pond will sink to the bottom and decay, add to your pond’s waste. A good strong net kept on the surface of the pond not only protects your fish, and stops fish jumping out of the pond, but it also keeps the majority of leaves from entering the water. Any leaves that do bypass the net should be netted out on a regular basis and disposed.
Your pump should be cleaned out again once more before winter. A full cleanup of every component will ensure that the filter/pump unit stays in good condition over winter, regardless of whether you decide to keep it running throughout the season. For further information on this, see my winter article.
You should monitor the temperature of your pond and once the temperature drops to 5 degrees, you should stop feeding your fish altogether.
Feeding fish in cold weather is dangerous to their health as their systems shut down for winter. Food can sit and rot inside the fish’s digestive system.
Shortly after this, your fish may hide themselves in the deepest part of the pond to begin hibernation and you will not see them again until Spring the following year. Koi do this as regular as clockwork to keep as warm as possible.
Final big clean up – if you want!
You may want to perform a final scrub down of the pond sides and net or vac the bottom. This ensures you remove as much of the waste as possible but may limit the fishies hiding places – so it is up to you. Again, your regular garden plants love the nitrogen rich waste from your pond bottom if you do clean it out, so it is a win-win situation.
During the Summer, I use a black Clearview nylon net for Spring and Summer, this is so I can see the fish and let the plants grow nice and it is hardly noticeable (we have Herons and huge Seagulls in our area). However in Winter, I want everything secure and seeing the pond isn’t the priority – I use a heavy duty wire mesh (the type you can get in Garden centres for training plants up walls etc). My pond isn’t that deep so it is a must for me, plus when Winter comes around those pesky predators get desperate for a snack!
These steps will hopefully help keep the water as clean, your fish safe and keep nitrogen levels and other harmful by products down to a minimum.