Are Garden Ponds Hard To Maintain?

I always wanted a garden pond, and when I finally constructed one, I thought I would simply sit by and enjoy it. However, it turns out that having a garden pond comes with many responsibilities, some of which are time-consuming and hard work. But how hard are garden ponds to maintain?

Garden ponds can be hard to maintain. However, the amount of work will depend on the state of the pond and its size. Removing leaves and debris and adding oxygenated plants is the easy part, but if the pond is leaking or there’s muck buildup, maintenance may be hard, especially for larger ponds.

In this article, I’ll discuss the reasons why maintaining garden ponds is hard, how to maintain a pond, and essential tips to remember. Let’s get started!

Why Maintaining Garden Ponds Is Hard

Owning a garden pond requires a commitment to its maintenance. When you do it routinely, it may appear easy, more like maintaining a pool. However, a garden pond is a habitat for plants, fish, and other small creatures; it needs balance to cater to their needs.

Maintaining a garden pond is hard for various reasons:

Pierced Pond Liners

Roots or animals sometimes pierce the pond liner, causing the pond to leak. This means until you drain the pond and fix the problem, especially if the leak is hard to identify, you’ll be forced to keep filling the pond with water. This is essential if you have fish. 

Season-Specific Care

Seasonal changes create unique demands for pond maintenance. You must keep changing the routine depending on the season. For example, you’ll need to top up water frequently during summer because of evaporation and possible damage to exposed parts of the filter.

Plant & Fish Dormancy

Plants and fish start going into dormancy as winter approaches and temperatures start falling. The plants don’t utilize fish waste when they’re dormant, so there will be ammonia and nitrate buildup.

The result will be rapid algae and blanket weed growth, which will, in turn, cause the water to turn green, making pond maintenance even more difficult. 

Fallen Leaves

During the fall season, leaves from trees and plants keep falling, and they find their way into the pond. You’ll have to spare more time for maintaining your garden pond.

Otherwise, the debris will take in water and form sludge at the base of the pond. It will also increase nutrient levels and encourage the growth of algae. 

Dirty Water

Soil erosion and waste from the pond inhabitants usually cause the water to get dirty. You’ll need to remove the inhabitants to clean the pool. This takes time and is sometimes quite exhausting.

Rapid Summer Growth

Like other plants, aquatic plants grow aggressively in summer. You’ll need to keep these plants from growing too big and taking over the pond. If you go without maintaining the pond for too long, you’ll have more work to make your garden pond functional and attractive again. 

How to Maintain Water in a Pond

Garden pond maintenance has everything to do with the quality of water. Fish, plants, and other pond inhabitants depend on water for survival. However, the chemical balance of the pond water will change continuously. The only way for the pond to remain ideal for plants and animals is by doing regular maintenance.

Maintain water in a pond by ensuring it’s not overpopulated with fish and plants. Avoid overfeeding fish because the excess food sinks and decays, creating sludge. It’s best to have 40-60% of aquatic plants to block sunlight and prevent algae growth, and you should use a pump to circulate water.

Pond water maintenance ensures the survival of fish and plants. You need to balance the pH, temperature, and beneficial microbes. A neglected pond is also easy to identify based on the water’s appearance, which ruins your entire garden’s aesthetics. 

This helpful YouTube video offers tips on how to maintain a garden pond and control algae growth:

Seasonal Garden Pond Maintenance

  • Purchase pond plants in mid-spring as the water starts to get warm.
  • Test the water to determine the status after neglect in the winter season.
  • Feed fish with food they can easily digest since they have been hibernating for months.
  • Remove dead leaves and plant matter. The rising temperature will encourage fast plant decay.
  • Prune the plants as they grow aggressively.
  • Top up the pond with rainwater since some will evaporate due to the high temperatures. Alternatively, you can use filtered or distilled water.
  • Scoop floating weeds to keep them from crowding the pond.
  • Feed plants to encourage growth.
  • Clear the falling leaves from your garden to keep them from going to your garden pond.
  • Use protective pond netting to keep leaves from falling into the pond.
  • Add cold water bacteria in the pond as temperatures fall (below 50 °F or 10 °C).
  • Install a pond heater to keep the pond water from freezing.
  • If you retain fish in the pond during winter, don’t break the ice
  • Turn off the fountain and waterfalls.
  • Leave the pump running to encourage oxygen circulation.

This Microbe Lift Autumn and Winter Pond Conditioner (available on is great for winterizing your pond. It will help maintain the pond’s health through winter in readiness for spring. It also accelerates the breakdown of leaves and other organic matter. 

The blend of enzymes and bacteria aids with biological activity when the water temperatures fall under 40 °F (4 °C). Therefore, it will continue to be effective even in the water underneath the ice and snow. 

Tips for Maintaining a Garden Pond

Gardening is hard work. Sometimes, it feels like it never ends. At least, that’s how I feel sometimes. However, the reward makes it worthwhile. Garden pond maintenance can be easy if you phase your work and maintain the pond regularly. 

Here are tips for maintaining a garden pond:

Consider the Pond’s Inhabitants

Plan maintenance according to the inhabitants in your pond. For example, if you only have pond plants, prune them to keep them from covering the entire pond, especially during summer when they grow aggressively. If you also have fish, you should schedule to regularly clean the pond of uneaten fish food, decaying matter, and fish waste. 

Maintain Foliage Around It

You’ll want to maintain the plants around your pond. When plants or trees shed leaves, they’ll find their way into the pond. And when they’re soaked, the leaves will sink to the bottom of the pond and add to sludge buildup. 

Control Algae

Algae, like other plants, uses light energy to produce their food. If your garden pond is exposed to a lot of light, the algae will grow rapidly, making it difficult for fish to find food. Placing a sail shade strategically above the pond can reduce the amount of sunlight that gets to the water.

Provide the Right Water Temperature

Ensure the water temperature is ideal for fish and plants. In summer, the pond water temperature shouldn’t exceed 74 °F (23 °C), while in winter, the temperatures shouldn’t fall below 40 °F (4.5 °C). Deep garden ponds control water temperature better than shallow ponds. 

Have Warm- and Cool-Season Water Plants

Cool-season pond plants grow in winter, so the plants are ready to deal with spring algae blooms. They will then go dormant in spring but start growing in winter. On the other hand, warm-season pond plants, like water lilies, thrive in summer and go dormant in winter.

Utilize an Aerator

Use a pond aerator to control water temperature and maintain the oxygen levels in the water. The aerator will also prevent water stagnation. 

Monitor Conditions With a Water Test Kit

Use the pond water test kit to check the water’s pH, ammonia, nitrate, and temperature levels. Digital thermometers are great for checking water temperatures up to 3 feet (0.91 m) deep. 

The API Pond Water Test Kit (available on Amazon) is handy for performing weekly water tests to confirm the state of your pond. The kit has six bottles of testing solution, glass test tubes, and 3-color cards. You can also check the water’s pH, ammonia concentration, and nitrate levels.

The tests are easy to conduct, and you get accurate results on the status of the pond water, which will make it easier to fix any issues (such as high ammonia levels) before your fish start to die.

Keep an Eye on the Pump

Check the pump regularly for signs of wear. You should also wash it to remove silt, sludge, algae, and other debris.

Clean the Filter Once or Twice a Year

The filter converts toxic ammonia and nitrites to harmless nitrates. It also contains good bacteria, which, when eliminated, take a long time to build up. That’s why you should avoid cleaning the filter too often. An indicator that the filter needs cleaning is if you notice reduced flow. 

Refill the Pond With Pond Water

When thoroughly cleaning the pond, ensure you save some pond water and silt. Refill the pond, preferably with rainwater, and add the pond water and silt. This way, the fish and plants have a familiar environment. The bacteria will also grow faster since you already have some in the pond water and silt. 

If you’re worried about your garden pond overflowing when it rains, you can check my article on the topic: Do Garden Ponds Overflow When It Rains?


Garden pond maintenance is as important as your regular garden maintenance, and depending on the size and condition of your pond will determine how hard it is to maintain. Additionally, how often you perform maintenance will depend on the water condition, plants, and fish. 

When maintaining a garden pond, it’s best to consider the environmental changes and their impact on the water, particularly in the different seasons.

Dr. Moritz Picot

Dr. Moritz Picot is a horticulture enthusiast and the founder of, where he serves as the lead content writer. He established the website in 2022 as a valuable resource for both gardening aficionados and beginners, compiling all the gardening tips he has accumulated over the past 25 years. Alex has a passion for nurturing plants, transforming backyards into inviting spaces, and sharing his knowledge with the world.

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