Carter's Water Garden

How do I clean my Water Garden? | Carters Nursery, Pond & Patio | Jackson, TN

We are right in the middle of “Pond Cleaning Season” here at Carters Nursery, Pond & Patio! From daylight to dark we are – splitting Aquatic Plants, Potting Aquatic Plants, Catching & Culling Fish, Replacing Filter Pads, Draining and Rinsing Ponds, Touching up stones and Gravel, etc. etc. One of the biggest questions I’m getting from new Pond Owners is “How do I clean my Water Garden”?

I have blogged on this subject before, but I know refreshers are helpful so here is a short list of Tools & Pond Supplies that you will need while performing your Pond/Water Garden Clean-out.

1st. Have ALL your tools and supplies needed on site and ready –

1. Fish Nets – Before you drain your pond for the spring clean-out, you’ll need to catch and relocate your fish. Purchasing a good quality net means doing this without injuring your fish during the catch and release.

2. Planting Pots – Spring clean-out is a great time to thin and divide plants that have grown out of bounds or crowded a pot. Make sure you have some aquatic plant pots & aquatic plant soil handy so you can re-pot and share your new plants with other water gardeners.

3. Extra Gravel – After the freeze and thaw of winter, you’ll inevitably find rocks and gravel that have shifted, exposing bare liner. With an extra bag or two of gravel, you can cover exposed liner in a jiffy.

4. Aquatic Plant Fertilizer – Take advantage of the water-free accessibility of water lilies, lotus, and other plants that may need to be fertilized, by having a container of aquatic plant fertilizer tabs on hand when you’re doing your pond clean-out.

5. Container for Plant Debris – Grab an old plastic plant pot or bucket so you can easily dispose of any debris that you gather from the pond bottom or from dead plant matter.

6. Rubber Gloves and Boots – Spring clean-outs can be cold, wet, and messy. Arming yourself with boots and gloves will go a long way toward making this chore much less unpleasant.

7. Fish Container – A large tub or tank will be needed so you can have a roomy place to keep your fish during the clean-out. Use water from the pond to fill the tank and use a small fountain pump to re-circulate  the water.

8. Net to Cover the Fish Container – Fish, especially large Koi, jump, and they may very well jump right out of the container that you have set up for them. Be sure to cover it with a net that is pulled tight across the container to prevent them from jumping.

9. Pump and Discharge Pipe – To drain the water out of the pond, you will need a pump and some discharge pipe. It’s OK to use your pond pump, but even better if you have an extra pump to lessen the wear and tare on your pond pump. About 2,000 GPH, depending on the size of your pond, will do the trick.

10. High Pressure Nozzle – Use a pressure nozzle on your garden hose to dislodge debris and algae from the rocks.

11. Pond Detox – Always detox the newly filled pond before you put the fish back in.

12. Expanding Foam – Expanding foam may need a bit of a touch up in some areas. Be prepared with a can of it just in case.

13. New Filter Mats – Filter mats should be replaced approximately every 3 years. If you think it might be time, be prepared by purchasing replacements prior to your clean-out.

14. Pruners – Part of a spring clean-out is pruning back dead plant material from the previous season. Make sure you have a good pair of pruners and/or scissors to get the job done.

15. Plastic Rake – You can rake the leaves right out of your pond with a small plastic (child’s) rake. The plastic lessens the chance of damaging the liner and the small size makes it easier to maneuver in tight spots than an adult size rake

Once you have all your tools together it’s time to get started. Start early so you can finish the task in one day if possible.

Fill your holding tank for your fish with water from the Pond. Capture & place the fish in the tank.

Capture fish, frogs and snails and place in your holding tank while you clean the pond. | Carters Nursery, Pond & Patio | Jackson, TN

Then thoroughly clean debris, trim & thin aquatic plants & rinse/wash down the pond.

Place your pump in the lowest part of the pond and wash/rinse to it. You may need to use a brush to scrub off some areas. Keep washing to it’s clean and the water is clear.


Then straiten up rocks & gravel, clean all filters and wash the pond down before refilling.

Capture & place the fish in tanks and then thoroughly clean debris, straiten up rocks & gravel and wash the pond down before refilling. And don’t forget to dose the new water with Pond detox.

After the Water Feature is thoroughly cleaned and re-filled, turn on the pump and add detox to the water. I like to run the pump for a few minutes before we start reintroducing the fish. Then start adding fresh Cold Temperature Bacteria to the Pond to get the system up and running right.

Using natural Water Treatments will really help keep your Pond in tip top shape! Carters Nursery stocks a complete line of Water Treatment for Water Gardens, Ponds & Lakes.

We clean a LOT of Ponds for our clients! But many people enjoy cleaning their own Ponds in the Spring. I hope this tutorial will help you.

We carry all the products for the Do It Yourselfers! Fish Nets, Pumps, Filters, Filter media, Pond Detox, Pond Bacteria, Fish Medications, Fish Food, etc… Call with any questions – we can help 😉 731-424-2206.


With a little work you will be ready for a Great outdoor season.

Happy Pondering!

PS: We are having a Water Garden Clean-out Class on April 21st. at the Nursery. It’s FREE and YOU are invited!

Mark Carter
Carter’s Nursery, Pond & Patio
2846 Old Medina Rd.
Jackson, Tn. 38305
Ph# 731-424-2206

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