With temperatures rising and the Summer Solstice passed, you may be spending more time enjoying your outside space. And if you have a pond, you’ll know that some maintenance tasks are vital to ensure your pond is looking it’s best in the sun!

Here we have rounded up our top 10 tips for looking after your pond during these Summer months:

1. The Sun/Shade Balance

Whilst trees do offer benefits for any pond they are growing near to, providing valuable shade and shelter for wildlife, too much shade can reduce the growth of pond plants, and conversely, too much direct sunlight can cause algae problems. Large quantities of fallen leaves can also lead to an increase in decaying organic matter in the pond and affect water quality. It is best to create a balance of both sunny and shady areas, so prune trees where necessary and look at utilising many of the broad-leaved pond plants to create welcome shady areas for the pond's inhabitants.

2. Beware of Poisonous Garden Plants

When creating a new pond, bear in mind that some trees and plants are poisonous. For instance, avoid positioning the pond anywhere near laburnum, laurel, wisteria, or yew. When planting around the pond, be sure to check on each plant's suitability as many varieties such as delphinium, foxglove, ivy, and lily are all toxic to fish.

3. Grow a Mixture of Different Pond Plants

Plants not only make the pond more aesthetically pleasing, but they also generate hiding places within the pond, create shady areas, and absorb nitrate, helping with water quality. Additionally, they assist in oxygenating the water and provide spawning/breeding sites for fish and other wildlife. Try to provide a mix of plants, such as submerged pond plants/oxygenators, marginal vegetation (which will provide refuge for amphibians, dragonflies etc), floating species, and for deeper ponds, water lilies.

4. Avoid Tap Water

Although tap water in the UK is treated to a high standard, it still often contains high levels of nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate, which contribute to algae problems/green water within the pond. Tap water also contains chlorine/chloramine, which, although making the water safe for us to drink, is very harmful to fish. When topping up the pond, it is best to use rainwater collected in a water butt. If tap water has to be used, then always treat first with a suitable dechlorinator that removes both chlorine and chloramine.

    5. Be Careful With Chemicals

    Take extra care when using pesticides, herbicides, or fertilisers near a pond, as these can easily enter the water through run-off when there is rain, or if a sprayer is being used. The average sized pond will not be able to dilute such chemicals to safe levels, and they could have a disastrous impact on the pond life.

    6. Oxygenate Your Pond

    A healthy pond will be well oxygenated, a necessity for the survival of the fish, amphibians, plants, and other organisms within. Oxygen is also essential in the breakdown of decaying organic matter. Ponds that lack oxygen will quickly become stagnant, often smelling unpleasant, with a thick layer of algae soon developing (which will further deplete oxygen). Oxygen levels can be maintained via pond pumps, filter outlets, air pumps/airstones, fountains, and waterfalls. Wherever the surface water of the pond is visibly rippling, oxygen is being incorporated into the water. All aquatic plants will produce some oxygen, but certain species (sold as 'oxygenators') are particularly efficient at helping to oxygenate the water. Adequate oxygenation is particularly important on hot summer days, and during the night when pond plants are producing CO2.

    7. Keeping Green Water At Bay

    Remember to change the bulb in your UV clarifier unit every 6-12 months. An ideal time is at the start of the pond season, every spring. Even if the bulb has not burnt out and is still lighting up, it will need to be replaced regularly, as after 6-12 months the output is no longer able to effectively treat the water. At the same time, the quartz sleeve should be cleaned to remove any build-up of grime, which could hinder the UV transmission and reduce its efficiency.

    8. Regular Filter Maintenance

    If you have an ornamental fish pond, it goes without saying that regular filter maintenance is of great importance. A well optimised and maintained filter should only need cleaning a few times per year - the amount of cleaning depending largely on your pond's bio-load. In general, filtration should be cleaned as soon as you notice a drop in water flow from the filter outlet pipe, as this would suggest that the mechanical filter media is starting to become clogged with debris. Sponges should only ever be rinsed in a bucket of water taken from the pond, in order to preserve the beneficial bacteria that break down the fish waste (chlorine and chloramine in tap water will kill this essential bacteria). Biological media should not require cleaning as often, but when it does, again, a quick rinse in aged pond water is all that is needed. Aside from the impellor, nothing inside the filter needs to be spotlessly clean.

      9. Test the Water Pond fish produce waste in the form of ammonia, which is then broken down via the filter bacteria into nitrite. Both ammonia and nitrite are highly toxic to aquatic life, which is why it is important to have a decent filtration system in place. Nitrite is then converted by the filter bacteria into less harmful nitrate, which is subsequently either taken up by plants or diluted via small water changes. These levels can all be monitored using a simple test kit, which only takes minutes to use. High levels of nitrate, and also phosphate (present in fish food, soil, tap water), can both cause algae blooms and simple testing can alert you to rising levels and necessary action can be taken.

      10. Don't Overdo Things Finally: don't overstock, don't overfeed, don't overtidy, and don't overclean. The stocking level of the pond is critical to the health of your fish: excess numbers of fish can deplete oxygen levels and put too much strain on the filter with the amount of nitrogenous waste produced. Overfeeding also increases the amount of nitrogenous waste in the water, so be sure to offer the fish sensible amounts of food. Remember that in between feeds, there is plenty of natural fare within the pond for the fish to browse upon. Wildlife ponds in particular look their best when not over-tidied, as the natural mixture of plants, leaves, twigs, stones, silt, and mud provide home to a multitude of creatures. As mentioned above, when carrying out maintenance on the ornamental fish pond, do not over clean the filter; a quick rinse of the media in pond water is all that is needed to remove larger debris. Discoloured media is absolutely fine, and sponges only need replacing if they don't pop back into shape when squeezed (be sure to replace only 25% of the sponges at a time).

      We hope these steps help you to make the most of your pond and water features this Summer and if you have any further questions they may have already been answered over in our FAQs section. If you have any further questions about setting up or maintaining a pond, please do not hesitate to speak to a friendly member of staff. Your local branch of Maidenhead Aquatics may be found here.