Pond Tips – Winter Maintenance
One of the jobs for autumn/winter is to cut back the dead growth on the marginal plants surrounding your pond. However this dead growth is quite important for both invertebrates and amphibians as an overwintering area. If possible then, leave cutting it back until the last possible moment just as the new growth begins to poke through in the spring.
Another area not to be too gung ho about is cleaning the pond. As mentioned previously, ponds will need draining and cleaning if there are fish and the build-up of leaf matter threatens to deoxygenate the water. However, in terms of the ecology of your pond dead leaves are the base of the food chain. A layer of algae, fungi and bacteria build up on them and this film is food for many grazing invertebrates and even larger animals such as tadpoles. A thoroughly clean, lined pool is a desert with no food for zooplankton or invertebrates or any of the animals higher up the food chain that depend on them. We have a local pond that has about 400mm of decomposing leaves and silt on the bottom with only about 500mm of water over the top. In the spring the water is grey with zooplankton feeding on all the organic matter and literally thousands of young frogs and toads migrate out of it into the surrounding parkland every summer. Kingfisher and heron visit regularly. If you do clean your pond out leave some of the silt and leaf matter in the bottom for the spring to convert into plants and animals.
Photo: Pond cleaning on a grand scale, plenty of silt here!