Spring into pond cleaning action

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A few days of sunshine and warmth, and the shadow of winter will, hopefully, have faded. We may still be in for some unpleasant weather, but it’s time to look forward to better things – and that’s why the pond is about to receive a pre-spring clean.

In 2013, snow and ice took a heavy toll on gardens and their plant inhabitants, but nothing that a bit of work with shears and secateurs couldn’t sort out – eventually. With ponds, however, something slightly different is needed.

Early April should be the time when spring really announces itself; when fish start to emerge from their slumbers and when frogs do what frogs have to do.

So, if the weather is fair, it will be time to wake up the pond. The fish and the aquatic plants don’t really like disturbing after months of winter, but that doesn’t mean you should leave well alone. Filters will need cleaning and re-starting and the water quality will have to be checked for nitrate levels.

When the temperature rises, the warmth will encourage algae to sprout; in a well-tended pond, that should be no problem because aquatic plants should also start to grow and suppress any unwanted vegetation.

But if you are worried that things may be getting out of hand, you can always apply an algae treatment.

Then it’s the turn of the fish. Providing they have survived the winter and the attentions of any scavenging herons, they will need feeding daily – give them as much as they can stomach in two minutes.

They will not be feeling 100 per cent and could be too weak to fight off attacks from parasites; if they show any signs of a slimy coating on their scales, use a proprietary remedy which can be added to the water to clear parasites.

And having mentioned herons, stop them getting a free meal at your expense by stringing lines of twine across the pond, or else net it.

If the pond is just a pond – fishless but still an integral part of the garden – simply clean it. Rake out all the decaying vegetation, remove pond weed, top up the water level and tidy up the marginal plants. It’s likely to be a dirty, wet and smelly task, but it’s one which marks a turning-point in the gardening year.