Over a period of time your beautiful garden pond will accumulate debris and organics such as twigs, leaves, grass clippings and fish waste. The filtration system that you have in place will certainly remove some of this waste and keep your pond relatively healthy, however the rest will break down into muck and sludge – leaving you with a dirty fishpond. This can release unwanted nutrients and deficient amounts of beneficial bacteria into the water and ultimately cause algae and water clarity issues. Which is why it is so important to know how to clean a pond!

Does Your Pond Need A Clean?

With the warmer months just around the corner, it’s time to complete a spring clean-out! Replenish the water in your pond and give it a fresh start for the new season ahead. Not only will this translate into clearer water and happier fish, but it will also get your pond functioning properly again.

It’s important to note, every pond is different, and some ponds do not need an annual clean-out. For example, larger ponds (2,000 square feet plus) may only need a clean-out every few years. In some cases large ponds may not even need a complete a clean-out because any impurities present are minimal compared to the volume of water in the pond. The best way to verify whether your pond needs a clear out is to check the water – if it looks the same early spring as it did the previous summer, chances are it’s okay to skip the clean-out.

If leaves and debris are minimal from the autumn and winter months, a quick and simple vacuum and a 20% water change may be enough of a pond refresh. Ensure you check your equipment and add the proper doses of beneficial bacteria.

Ideally, you should opt for a clean-out early spring before water temperatures go above 10°C. This is the prime temperature to perform the clean-out as your pond hasn’t begun its annual balance and the fish are less active, meaning it won’t be as stressful for them.

So, if you’re planning to roll up your sleeves, put your wader boots on and get your hands dirty with a spring clean-out, check out our handy guide below:

Pond clean-out material checklist:

Preparation is key. Be sure to have to hand the following list of materials for your clean-out:

  • Rubber gloves (of course!)
  • Old clothes or wading boots (you’re going to get dirty!)
  • Fish net (to catch the fish before your work begins)
  • Holding tank (a container to hold fish and frogs)
  • Net (this is to cover your container to stop the fish and frogs from jumping out)
  • Gallon buckets (we recommend two to five as they are used to collect the debris and leaves)
  • Lily tabs (used to fertilize the lilies)
  • Bacteria
  • 25 feet of 1.5 to 2-inch discharge piping
  • Extra rocks or pebbles to cover any exposed liner (and make your pond look aesthetically pleasing again)
  • WD-40® Multi-Use Product (used to clean your ornaments)
  • Soft clean cloth (as well as a brush, if needed)
  • Expanding foam (used to fill in any necessarily spots)
  • New filter mats (if applicable)
  • Power washer (or high-pressure nozzles for your hose)
  • Garden shears or pruners (for trimming back plants and getting it looking fresh again)
  • Dechlorinator (only if you’re filling your pond with city water)

Spring Cleaning Pond step-by-step guide:

Now that you have all the materials to get started, it’s time to put in the hard work! It’s not complicated, just slightly dirty (!). These simple and easy-to-follow steps will help you complete your pond clean-out in next to no time:

  1. Drain the pond – Use some of the pond water to fill up the holding container for your fish and frogs.
  2. Disconnect the Circulation System – This will ensure the water in the plumbing drains out.
  3. Fish safety – In order to catch the fish easily and safely, drain the pond to the lowest shelf.
  4. Remove unwanted debris – Once the draining of the pond is complete, remove the large debris such as leaves and twigs.
  5. Clean your ornaments – With your ornaments sat outside, naturally this means they will get dirty over time. Dust, dirt and the elements mean any pond ornaments or garden features will need maintaining and protecting to keep them looking their best. Grab your can of WD-40® Multi-Use Product and simply spray on a clean, soft cloth and rub over. For more stubborn dirt and grime, use a brush or apply more pressure to remove the grime.
  6. Make Adjustments – Whilst there is no water in your garden pond, it’s time to check for any plants that have overgrown or need to be divided – this is where your garden shears or pruners will come in handy. Whilst you’re having a good tidy up, adjust the rocks or pebbles in the pond that may have shifted during the winter and be sure to add new ones.
  7. Rinse the Pond – Using your garden hose (without the high-pressure nozzle), rinse the pond from top to bottom. This will wash away any remaining debris from under the rocks.
  8. Wash the Pond – The recommendation is to use a 1,500-psi pressure washer (or a high-pressure nozzle on a hose) for pond cleaning.
  9. Readjust Lighting – At this stage, it’s advised to check your existing lighting to ensure they are shining in the right direction and in tip top working condition. Change out non-working bulbs and be sure to clean the lenses thoroughly. If you don’t have pond lighting, this is a good time to add them in or even add additional lights if you want to.
  10. Clean the Filters – Now, spray the filtration media until reasonably clean. Don’t forget to wash down the inside of the filter units.
  11. Refill the Pond – You can start re-filling the pond by pulling out the clean-out pump. Depending on the size of your pond, this may take some time.
  12. De-chlorinate – City water contains chlorine and chloramines (in most cases) and should be treated with a de-chlorinator before fish are reintroduced.
  13. Acclimate the Fish – As mentioned previously, a spring clean-out can be rather stressful to fish. In order to prevent this as much as possible, a proper acclimation is advised. This will not only decrease stress levels but help to avoid any future health problems of your fish. Simply add some pond water to your holding tank which will allow the fish to gradually get used to their new environment. We suggest you give your fish around 20 minutes to adjust to the new water chemistry and temperature before reintroducing them to your pond.
  14. New home – When ready, remove the netting from the holding tank and carefully move your fish back into your garden pond. Allow 24 hours for your fish to fully adjust to the pond before you begin to feed them.
  15. Clean up – To give your pond a boost, you can add a dose of cold water beneficial bacteria. This will help replenish winter bacteria loss, enhance biological filters and break down waste.

So, there you have it – your pond is officially ready for spring! Don’t forget to follow up with routine maintenance to ensure a successful pond season.

Top Tip: WD-40® Multi-Use Product fast-acting and innovative formula protects metal from rust and corrosion, penetrates stuck parts, displaces moisture and lubricates almost anything. It is also great for maintaining garden furniture and it’s so easy to do so. Once you’ve completed your clean-out, why not give your furniture a good ol’ spring clean too, to complement you’re newly refreshed pond and get your garden in tip-top condition again.

The sound of running water is a beautiful accompaniment to a warm spring day, so don’t let it be ruined by murky pond water! For more ways to enhance your garden this spring, dive into our guides on How to Clean Garden Sprinklers and How to Use WD-40 in the Garden.