Backyard ponds are for the enjoyment of you, your family and guests, such as birds, butterflies, frogs, and neighbors, but you will want to put out the “Unwelcome” mat to troublesome guests such as algae.
While a little algae is needed for a healthy pond, if given half a chance, it will take over.
Sometimes chemicals are needed to rid the pond of algae, but for a well-balanced, natural pond, opt for organic preventions such as the following, and you will find that chemical solutions need only be used sparingly if at all. If you have followed the suggestions in parts one through three of this article, then you have a head start on heading off algae and other ponds disturbances.
However, algae is a very common problem in newly established ponds, so if you have this problem, know that once your pond is organically well established, algae won’t be nearly the menace that it is now.
If your pond’s water has turned a sickly shade of green, don’t make the mistake that many make by draining their ponds to start over fresh. This is not only unnecessary, but it prolongs the problem because once the pond is established, nutrients come into balance, and algae usually backs up to a healthy level.
It takes a little time for a pond to become balanced, that is for the nutrients to reach a good level for the amount of plant life present. When nutrients are present in excess, algae increases, feeding off these. Algae also like most of the water garden plants needs lots of sunlight. So when excess nutrients and light are reduced, so is algae.
In part three of this article, a few plants were listed that deter algae, including water lilies and broad leafed floaters that shade the pond, depriving algae of needed sunlight; and anacharis, which does double duty competing with algae for nutrients as well as shading the pond. Organic gardening books and Website, as well as your local nursery can provide you with lists of water garden plants that effectively combat algae while adding beauty to your pond.
Scavengers such as snails help clean up wastes from the bottom of the pond. Tadpoles are also good cleaners, besides being great entertainment for kids.
Pond filters help reduce algae, but if algae is running rampant, the filters need to be cleaned frequently. Chemicals should be used only as a last resort and then with great caution because they toxic to your water garden plants, aquatic life and animals that drink from your pond. As your water garden establishes itself and achieve balance, the need for algaecides will diminish.
Additional organic methods for controlling algae include algae-eating fish and other aquatic animals, a good filtration system, environmentally safe pond additives, barley straw filters and biological filters. The latter is simply beneficial bacteria and something for it to grow upon such as media balls, small filter pads, filter beads, rocks or anything else that provides large amounts of surface area. The more surface area you have for the beneficial bacteria to grow on, the clearer your pond will be. Beneficial bacteria breaks down algae food, such as organic matter from dead aquatic plants, muck, uneaten fish food.
Finally here are a few more things to add to your pond maintenance checklist (some consider these good excuses to spend more time at the pond):
With a little forethought and regular maintenance, you can cultivate a backyard pond that is naturally healthy and beautiful, providing you with respite and refreshment from the stresses of life.