COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT WATER GARDENING

1. How deep should my pond be?
This depends on what type of pond you want. There are two types of garden ponds: water gardens and Koi ponds. A water garden, which is our specialty at Aquatic & Garden Decor, is built to house water plants and goldfish and should be a minimum of 18″ to two feet in depth. In the Cincinnati area, where the winters are typically mild, there is no need to build a water garden deeper than two feet. Around the perimeter, you may also want a 10″-12″ deep area, or shelf, for shallow water plants.

2. Where is the best location in my yard for my pond?
Ponds need a minimum of five hours of direct sunlight each day. While we recommend placing your pond in the place where you will most enjoy it, such as near an outdoor sitting area or garden, do keep the sunlight exposure of the potential area in mind.

3. Where is the worst location in my yard for a pond?
Do not install your pond in an area of your yard that naturally holds water. Excessive ground water under your pond will cause your liner to float, whether it is a pre-formed or rubber liner pond.

4. When is a good time to install my pond?
As long as the ground is not frozen, you may install your pond at any time.

5. What are the differences between pre-formed ponds and rubber liner ponds?
With pre-formed ponds, the shape is determined for you, and all you have to do is trace around the pond shell and start digging. Rubber liner, however, can conform to any shape, size or depth that you desire; therefore, your only limit is your imagination. The rubber liner itself is typically less expensive than a pre-formed pond shell.

At Aquatic & Garden Decor, we offer both types of ponds. Our pre-formed ponds are 18″ deep, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are U.V. stabilized to protect them from ultraviolet rays. They are made of molded, durable, black ABS plastic for remarkable strength and longevity. For rubber liner ponds, we offer a very heavy 45 mil, “fish friendly” rubber liner that comes on 10′, 20′, or 30′ wide rolls that we can cut to any length. This material is also great for lining a waterfall off the side of your pond (all waterfalls on the outside of ponds must be lined). This material also has been stabilized to protect it from sun damage.

6. How do I protect my pond from punctures?
To protect from punctures, proper underlayment must be used. For pre-formed ponds, sand is best to ensure nothing gets through the shell. For rubber liner ponds, fabric is recommended because it will not erode or decay and can protect both the horizontal and vertical parts of your pond.

7. How much sun does a water garden need?
A minimum of five hours of direct sunlight per day is recommended. Most water plants need at least five hours of sun per day, especially those that bloom.

8. Do I need a pump in my pond?
Yes. Stagnant water attracts egg laying mosquitoes, and a circulating pump adds oxygen to the water which is beneficial to the water plants and fish. The sound and appearance of a water feature is also a very soothing and attractive element in any pond.

9. Will a pump aerate my pond enough to clear the water?
No. A pump will aerate the water somewhat but is not sufficient for balancing the pond. The most effective, natural way to clear and balance a pond is with the correct water plants.

10. Do I need a filter?
It is not necessary to use a filter in a water garden because the plants themselves will clear the water if the pond is planted properly. A filter could help clear the water a bit faster in the spring while your plants are establishing themselves. For a Koi pond, a filter will most likely be necessary because Koi fish typically eat or destroy the plants that balance the water.

11. When should I add plants to my pond?
As soon as the pond is complete, plants and fish should be added. However, if you install your pond during the winter, we suggest you wait until the following spring to add plants.

Important reminder: due to the fact that water temperatures increase and decrease much more slowly than air temperatures, tropical water plants, such as water hyacinths and water lettuce, should not be added to a pond until May.

12. What plants go in the shallow area of my pond?
These plants are known as bog plants, marginal plants, or ledge plants. They should sit in the shallow area, or on a shelf in the pond, in water that is 10″-12″ deep.

13. What plants go in the deep area of my pond?
Water lilies and oxygenating plants (anacharis or hornwort) should be in this area, which is 18″-24″ deep.

14. What should I consider when adding water lilies to my pond?
Water lilies grow best in very still water; locate them away from waterfalls and spray heads. Water lilies are not recommended for ponds with destructive fish, such as Koi. Most lilies need at least five hours of direct sunlight per day in order to grow well and bloom; however, shade tolerant varieties are available. For best growth and blooming, fertilize with aquatic plant fertilizer during the growing season according to the directions on the fertilizer package.

15. When do I propagate (split) my pond plants?
Any time is fine for most plants. At Aquatic & Garden Decor, we split the majority of our plants in late summer and early fall. If you divide them then, just make sure you complete the process two to three weeks before you close your pond. They need time to root themselves in before they are cut back for the winter. If you have questions regarding specific plants, just ask our water garden staff; they will be happy to help!

16. Do I need to fertilize my pond plants?
We recommend fertilizing water plants during the growing season, which begins in March and ends in October or November. For best growth and blooming, fertilize with aquatic plant fertilizer according to the directions on the fertilizer package. Do not fertilize in the fall, at the end of the growing season, when the plants are preparing themselves for winter dormancy.

17. Can I run a spray or a spitter in a pond with plants?
Yes, but only if your pond is large enough. If you have water lilies, they need to be able to grow and spread on the pond surface without being sprayed. Lilies prefer very still water, and if a spray is too close, it can kill them. Remember: lilies are essential to pond water balance, your spray is not. The same is true of spitters. They can be used in a pond with water lilies as long as the stream of the spray does not harm the lilies.

18. How do I get rid of an algae bloom (green water) and balance my pond?
We recommend the natural way with the correct balance of water plants. To naturally balance a pond, you need to have 2/3 of the pond surface water covered with plants (such as water lilies, water hyacinths, and water lettuce) along with the correct amount of oxygenating plants (anacharis or hornwort) on the bottom of your pond. One bundle of oxygenators for every ten gallons of water is recommended. This formula rarely fails and will result in clear water. Remember that any product that claims to kill algae may also kill other desirable aquatic plants because algae are also water plants.

19. How do I control string algae in my pond?
String algae can be pulled out of the pond by hand or by twirling it around a stick or net. As the growing season progresses and the surface coverage from the plants increases, string algae will naturally diminish. Remember, string algae is normal in a healthy pond.

20. How do I control algae on my waterfall?
Growth of algae on your waterfall can be slowed drastically by the application of a saline solution. First, turn off the waterfall. Fill a bucket with pond water, and mix in two to three ounces of non-iodized or kosher salt for each gallon of water in the bucket. Pour three fourths of the solution over the rocks and scrub the rocks with a scrub brush to remove existing algae. Pour the remaining solution over the cleaned rocks and allow the rocks to soak for at least 12 hours with the waterfall off. The salt solution should completely dry up on the rocks before the waterfall is turned back on; wait longer than 12 hours if necessary. This procedure helps to severely retard algae growth.

21. What about using chemical treatments in my pond?
At Aquatic & Garden Decor, we strive to balance ponds naturally with the correct water plants. However, it is necessary to de-chlorinate tap water before introducing fish into a pond. Products available at Aquatic & Garden Decor are the same ones we use in our ponds for de-chlorinating, and they have been proven safe for water plants and fish. Always read and follow the directions on the package when adding any treatment to your pond.

22. What type of fish should I put in my water garden?
We recommend any type of hardy goldfish (Shubunkins, Comets, Fantails) because they are cold water fish and can live in the pond year-round. For a water garden, we do not recommend Japanese Koi, Catfish or any bottom dwelling or predator fish that may attack more gentle ornamental fish. Japanese Koi tend to destroy pond plants and stir up debris from the bottom of the pond, keeping water cloudy. In a water garden, where plants are used to balance the water, Koi and Catfish should not be introduced.

23. How many fish should I put in my pond?
We recommend no more than one inch of fish per ten gallons of water.

24. Do I need to feed my fish?
No. Fish are capable of sustaining themselves in the pond by eating insects, larvae, algae, etc. However, if you want to tame your fish so they swim up to greet you when you approach your pond, they can be fed floating fish food. Always feed them according to the directions on the package. Do not overfeed! Uneaten food results in excess nutrients which will cause an algae bloom. Feed your fish no more than they can eat in five minutes.

25. Can I add frogs and snails to my pond?
Yes! Frogs will often find your pond on their own, and if not, you can add tadpoles to your pond. Frogs will eat mosquito larvae and insects. Snails can be purchased at a pet store, and many of the plants we sell at Aquatic & Garden Decor have small black snail eggs on the pots. Snails eat algae from the sides and bottom of the pond. Turtles, however, are not recommended for ponds because they typically eat water plants and fish.

26. What are the most common pond pests?
Raccoons, herons, turtles, ducks, insects, and any chemicals that may harm fish or water plants (including those that claim to kill only algae).

27. How do I determine the number of gallons of water in my pond?
For most ponds, which have an irregular shape, the formula is: Length x Width x Depth x 5.90 = Gallons. For square/rectangular ponds that are all one depth, the formula is: Length x Width x Depth x 7.50 = Gallons. Length, width and depth should be measure in feet.

28. When do I open my pond?
We recommend March or early April. Refer to our ‘Starting Up Your Pond in The Spring’ tip sheet for assistance.

29. When do I clean and winterize my pond?
We recommend this be done in fall. Refer to our ‘Winterizing Your Pond In The Fall’ tip sheet for assistance.

30. What do I do with my plants for the winter?
All plants vary. Please see our ‘Aquatic Plant Care’ Tip Sheet.

31. What do I do with my pump in the winter?
Running a pump in the pond to keep a hole in the ice will only make the pond water colder and encourage a thicker layer of ice on the pond which will endanger your fish. Also, as the perimeter of the pond and/or waterfall freezes, the ice can divert the moving water in the center out of the pond, thus draining it! Pumps should remain off during the winter months.

It is not good for a pump to sit in freezing and thawing water. Larger waterfall pumps that are deeper in the pond where the water will not freeze can remain in the pond for winter. Smaller pumps located on shelves or in shallow water should be removed and stored inside for the winter in a container of water. Storing the pump in water prevents the seals from drying out. When you unplug your pump for the winter, plug in your pond deicer.

32. Is it okay to use a pond de-icer?
Yes! Use a pond de-icer to maintain an open hole in the pond’s surface. This will allow toxic gases to escape. The pond de-icers available at Aquatic & Garden Decor float on the water surface and are thermostatically controlled. Please be advised that a de-icer is not a substitute for properly cleaning and winterizing the pond in the fall.

For additional questions or advice, please stop by Aquatic & Garden Decor and visit our water garden staff, who is always happy to help!

All products and accessories discussed in this tip sheet are available at Aquatic & Garden Decor.

© Aquatic & Garden Decor 11/2018