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What to Expect When Reopening Your Pond

The last few months have been spent bundled in sweaters, staring at bare, leafless trees, and grounds covered in snow. Winter is beautiful and quiet, nature seems to go to sleep as animals hibernate and trees lose their leaves. It’s a great time to reflect on life and plan for the upcoming warmer months. Spring is known as the season of new beginnings as nature reawakens. Plants begin to bloom, animals come out of hibernation, and soon little baby squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits will be wandering about. Once the ice and snow thaws and the temperatures warm, you can reopen your pond finally! The first step is spring cleaning. Your pond has most likely been dormant for the past few months, so your oasis may need a little help to get back to its former glory. Cleaning is important for water clarity and overall pond health. Leaves and runoff fertilizer make their way into the pond as the snow melts, and cause a buildup of muck and excess nutrients. This can be damaging to fish health, and lead to an algae bloom as we advance into warmer months. Adding beneficial bacteria to the pond can give the water a good boost and will help battle the algae as it warms up. When the water temperature is consistently above 50 degrees, you can slowly start feeding the fish. Even if they’re giving you the “feed me” eyes, you want to start slowly because their metabolisms gradually take time to get back to normal. They also may seem sluggish, but they’ll become more active as the weather continues to warm. Once the pond is clean and the water has warmed to at least 50 degrees, you can reintroduce your pump and filter once they are both cleaned. If you haven’t already, take a bucket of water from the pond and scrub away any dirt from the pump or filter. Pond water is better than tap water as it won’t place chlorine or chloramines into the pond. Avoid using any chemicals on the pump or filter because they can be harmful to the fish. Keep an eye on the pump and filter when you run them for the first time this season to make sure everything is in order. You do not want to come home to any surprises. It’s better to run the pump and filter once you’ve cleaned the pond so you don’t stir up any muck and debris. Test the water to check the overall health of the pond. An imbalanced pH or high levels of ammonia level can cause stress and hurt the fish. They are fragile as they warm back up, needing time for their immune systems to reach full strength. Adding a water conditioner can help reduce stress. Since the weather can be a little drastic in the spring, with one day being cold and the other hot, adding an aerator will help keep the temperature more consistent, which will also lower stress levels. If you moved your fish inside for the winter, make sure they have time to adjust to the new water temperature. First, place a few fish at a time in the a bag with their current water in it, leaving a few inches of air at the top. Tie the bag and let it sit on the surface of the pond so they can acclimate. Check the temperatures after 10 minutes, and if the water in the bag is the same temperature as the pond water, they can be released. It can be stressful on fish to move back and forth. The process is less stressful when the conditions are as similar as possible. As the weather continues to warm, you can begin gardening again. Plants will need fertilizers, and spring is a great time to introduce new plants to the garden. Make sure any fertilizers added have enough separation from your pond to not runoff into your pond at the first spring shower. You will need to wait until the weather is in the 60s and 70s before replanting any tropical plants. Reopening your pond can be a relaxing and cathartic experience. You’ve been waiting a long time to put on the gardening clothes and get to work! Cleaning and making sure you pond is in tiptop shape can help make the seasonal transitions easier. Your fish will soon be swimming with full-energy and greeting you each morning again. Your yard will be vibrant and alive as plants bloom and trees regain their leaves. You will once again be able to retreat to your peaceful oasis, crack open a good book, soak up some vitamin D, and listen to the beautiful sounds of running water and relax.
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Dreaming of Spring

The seemingly endless months of snow and cold weather have us dreaming of spring (unless you live in Florida and put on a jacket only once or twice this season). Our fingers ache to dig into the soil, tear out weeds, and scoop out fish feed. Our poor gardening tools haven’t been touched in months. Our koi are still sluggish and don’t greet us beneath the ice. It can be a little disheartening. We still have about a month until March 20th, the official start of spring, the Spring Equinox. Until the ice melts, there isn’t too much to do but plan and prep for spring, when the gardens will be brought back to life. While it is still frosty, clean and check all of the pumps, filters, waterfalls, etc. for signs of damage such as cracks. This is the time to replace any worn parts and do any upgrades. Do you need a more powerful pump this year, maybe one with a UV clarifier? Do you want to add a waterfall? Do you still need an aerator? Spring is a great time of year to add that pond or water feature you have been dreaming about all winter long. Check out our projects page for how to build a pond, how to build a fountain, and keep checking back all year long to see what new ideas we have been dreaming up for you. The possibilities are endless. Grab a pump and a container and let your imagination run wild. As the weather warms up you can pay more attention to the plants, pruning away any leaves or stems that didn’t make it through the frost. Check to see if your plants are too crowded; now is a great time to repot. You can also start shopping for new plants. Which annuals do you want to plant this year? Buy some plants that will bloom in the summer too! Plants are a great way to add color to a yard, especially a pond. Algae love sunlight and warm weather. Adding a large plant or tree can shade some of the pond and help with algae growth. Hardier plants can be reintroduced to your pond, and once the water temperature is in the high 60s, you can add your tropical plants. Could this be the year you start a vegetable garden? Spinach, lettuce, kale, and peas are great plants to start in the spring. They are easy bloomers and do not require too much attention. If you can, get organic seeds, soil, and avoid using any pesticides. You can use pots or do a D.I.Y vegetable bed using wood or even concrete blocks. Maybe you want to help save the bees? Plants like daisies, marigolds, wild lilac, calendula, hyacinth, crocus, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, sunflower, and lavender will attract bees. Be careful not to use any harmful pesticides for them either! You can do little fun projects in the spring like adding a brick path to the pond. Is your pond comfortable? You can add chairs or a hammock so you can soak up the Vitamin D you’ve been missing or read a good book. Ladybugs and praying mantis will eat aphids and other pests. You can buy them online and release them into your garden. Kids will love this!
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Your First Fairy Garden

Ready for the newest trend in gardening? Here’s a hint: It involves fairies! Fairy gardening is the hottest trend in gardening and is slowly taking over the craft stores. Fairy gardens are miniature gardens, set in a container, decorating to a theme. You can create an entire world for the fairies, allowing for as much creativity and imagination as desired. Fairy gardening is also great for the wintertime, if indoors, so you can garden all year round. It’s the perfect craft for a snowy day and can ease any winter gloom. Children are given dolls and legos, allowing them to dream up ideas, storylines, and designs. Fairy gardening brings back the childhood imagination and wonder, and is attainable for any gardening skill level. Fairies have always been an alluring symbol of magic. Fairy gardens are an easy way to bring magic into the home or yard. Mini versions of everyday things things are notoriously cute and whimsical. There are few things cuter than a teacup piglet. The Japanese have a long history of creating miniature gardens to promote zen and relaxation. The theory of the allure of miniature items lies in psychology. Miniature gardens are less intimidating and give a sense of control. It is something you create and make decisions for, that doesn’t change unless you want it to, which helps reduce anxiety. A small indoor container garden is also significantly more manageable than a large yard. Step 1: Choose a theme The theme helps set the tone for the garden. Do you want it to have a rustic feel or more of a modern feel? Do you want it to be set in the woodlands or at the beach? Once you decide what theme you want, it’ll be easier to pick the decorations, plants, and even the container. Step 2: Choose a container The container can be as big or small as you like. A fairy garden can be created in anything from an old shoe, large planter, or a removed drawer. If using real plants indoors, the container needs to be able to hold water and not leak. Step 3: Choose a focal point The focal point is a decoration starting point. Many times the focal point is the fairy’s home, possibly a teacup with a door or treehouse. The focal point can be a scene, such as a dinner setting, or a fountain or stream. *we will insert more information about adding a fountain here* Step 4: Decorate Most craft stores now have entire sections dedicated to fairy gardening, as it has grown in popularity. You can find anything from tiny bridges, shovels, and farm animals, to seasonal decor. There are also great D.I.Y options, as many small items around the house and yard can be repurposed for the fairies. A big leaf can be a table spread or bedsheet, and acorn tops can be bowls or teacups. Because the containers are a smaller scale, you can go into a lot of detail with the decor. When choosing plants, be mindful of the environment they will be living in. Many plants need sunlight and will not survive indoors. Try not to add too many plants as they can overshadow the rest of the decor. Varied plants of different heights, textures, and colors look really cool. Some plants will stay tiny, others may need to be trimmed back. For fairy gardening, every detail is important and adds to the enchantment. Try to think about the fairies and the mischief they may get into when no one is looking. Show where they sleep or eat. Make pathways or a fountain for them to frolic in; it adds to the mystery and separates it from a terrarium Fairy gardening a fun hobby that allows for artistic expression and heaps of creativity. The options are limitless, it’s all up the the imagination. You can always make them bigger and add more realms or scenescapes. It’s also a great option for apartment dwellers, as they don’t need to be outside and can take up as little space as needed.
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Why Is Everyone Talking about Pond Aeration?

Aeration has become an increasingly popular topic amongst water gardening hobbyists because it is the easiest way to combat algae, mosquitoes, and keep fish healthy by circulating the water and diffusing oxygen. Standing water is rarely a beautiful sight, usually it is covered with green algae, inviting mosquitoes, and lacking healthy fish. Fish may not breathe air like we do, but they still require oxygen, which they absorb in the water using their gills. Wind naturally circulates the water but only at the surface, so the deeper parts remain stagnate. Today, people use different types of aeration to add oxygen and circulate the water in their ponds. Ponds need to have circulation to oxygenate the water and release the gases created by the breakdown of organic waste. Typically in a pond lacking aeration, the water at the top is slightly circulated by the wind periodically, but the bottom of the pond never is circulated (and can not receive sunlight for photosynthesis) so it slowly loses oxygen and becomes uninhabitable to pond life. The oxygen devoid part of the pond grows and during a storm, heavy rain or wind can churn the water, and the surface water mixes with the deeper water, the overall oxygen levels drop, making it harder for fish to breathe. smartpond suggests using fountains, waterfalls, and aerators to add oxygen to your pond. Fountains and Waterfalls Fountains and waterfalls are a common way to add aeration, as they are functional and decorative. Fountains pull water from below the surface and spray it into the air. Waterfalls pull water from the base of the pond through a pump and splash it over the surface of the water. Mosquitoes and algae flourish in calm water. Mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs on still water. They will avoid the areas of the pond where the surface is agitated. Goldfish and guppies will help eat any mosquito larvae that do make it into the water. Algae requires sunlight to bloom. In a still pond, they can sit at the surface and receive maximum sunlight. In a circulating pond, algae is forced to move around and spend less time at the surface photosynthesizing. Aerators An aerator diffuses oxygen directly into the bottom of the pond. As the bubbles rise and pop, they diffuse oxygen and circulate the water. An aerator can provide a beautiful effect with its LED light ring to illuminate the bubbles at night. Aerators directly combat anaerobic bacteria that can thrive at the base of ponds with low levels of oxygen releasing harmful gases and nutrients. Phosphorus is one of the nutrients made available by anaerobic bacteria which feeds algae blooms. An aerator will help increase the good bacteria and therefore combat algae and increase water clarity. Beneficial bacteria decomposes organic waste efficiently and more quickly than the anaerobic bacteria, helping water clarity. Fish need adequate levels of dissolved oxygen to maintain overall good health in a pond. In the wintertime, fish become at-risk as the surface freezes over. Once the surface is completely frozen, there is no way for the water to oxygenate and release harmful gases. An aerator keeps a section of the pond open by circulating the water, and allows for the gases to release and the water to stay oxygenated. Fountains can be problematic in the winter if the water freezes, the pumps can burn out quickly if the water is unable to circulate and should be stored inside. Aeration is a year-round need. Summer months are typically when ponds have lower levels of oxygen in the water. Warm water in general is able to hold less oxygen than cold water. Fish are more active in the summer, requiring more oxygen. Overcrowding becomes another issue, especially if the bottom of the pond is uninhabitable, the fish fight for oxygen closest to the surface. An aerator works at the bottom, where the oxygen is often most needed. Aeration is a necessity for a healthy and beautiful pond. An aerator can be used along with a fountain to add decor and keep the water flowing. Aeration will keep fish healthy and help with nutrient build up, mosquitoes, and algae. Water treatments may still be necessary to assist with certain issues, aeration is the best way to keep the water clear and the fish happy all year round.
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How to Enjoy Your Pond Through Fall

Summer is nearly officially over.  Depending on where you are, you may have already begun to get the first gusts of fall wind.  Fall is a lovely time that smells of cinnamon and tastes of pumpkin.  It is a transitional period to help ease us into winter, which is much needed for pond owners.  Besides the fish care, there are other pond elements which must be prepared for freezing temperatures. (more…)
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Your Guide to Water Treatments

Summer is here and that means sunshine, warm pools, and green...ponds? Yes, this is the time of year when many ponds go from a crystal clear oasis to something resembling a celebrity green juice. The combination of the warm weather and intense direct sunlight creates the perfect conditions for algae to take over, which means you might need some water treatments. (more…)
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How to Prevent Algae Blooms During the Summer Season

Pond Life during the summer focuses a lot on algae. The combination of summer heat and debris can cause green algae to grow in your water features and disturb their appearance and health. Controlling the amount of algae in your pond may be a hard task, but here are a few products and tips you can utilize to help prevent algae. (more…)
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Build a Calming Waters Project

smartpond® is proud of the high-quality, DIY water gardening products we create to help our customers to create their backyard oasis. With the Calming Waters Project, smoothly flowing water seems to disappear when it glides over the brim of a negative-edge pool. The water barely whispers and hardly splashes as it spills down the sides and into a pool below. (more…)
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How to Build a Magic Fountain

smartpond® is proud of the high-quality, DIY water gardening products we create to help our customers to create their backyard oasis. From tabletop fountains to ponds with waterfalls, we make sure all our products help you make beautiful water features that you and your family will enjoy. Recently, Easy Garden Projects, a DIY magazine with a specialty in garden projects, featured the smartpond® 100-170-GPH Low Water Shut-off Fountain Pump in a charming disappearing fountain water feature. The project is now featured in magazines on bookshelves! (more…)
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smartpond® Introduces Premium Line of Professional-Grade Pumps

smartpond® Introduces New Premium Line of Professional-Grade Pond, Waterfall and Fountain Pumps Available Exclusively at Lowe’s West Palm Beach, Florida (June 2016) – smartpond® introduces a new line of Premium pumps at Lowe’s this season. Eleven premium pump options in various size capacities are available to satisfy a range of pond, waterfall and fountain pumps needs for DIYers and professionals. Innovatively Efficient Pumps Offered in 200 Stores & Online at Lowes.com. (more…)
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