Seasonal Hints for the Summer
How to handle a Water Garden during a drought
Water is a scarce resource and good pond water is even more treasured. The typical water garden uses less water (3/8 of an inch per week) than a Bluegrass lawn (1" per week) and they contribute greatly to maintaining suitable habitat for wildlife*. That said, let's get down to serious conservation practices.
Don't Drain the Pond!!! Most styles of ponds can be maintained easily with a natural ecological balance or with the help of a mechanical pump/filtration system. As long as you don't have a rock bottom pond there should be no need to drain and scrub the pond. If you do have a rock bottom pond then you should hold off on cleaning the pond until there is adequet water supply, which may mean waiting till next season.
If you have a Fountain- Shut off your fountain or at least change the fountain nozzle to a lower profile waterbell or foaming jet type. Fountains will aerate the water (with significant evaporative loss) but pond aerators (Oase Pondair 30 is a great gadget and several other companies make simple venturi type attachments for their submersible pumps) will do the same job!
What to do with a waterfall - Turn down the volume on your waterfall. Open moving water has more evaporation and "gushers" lose more to splashing. Slow down the flow (many ponds have two pumps - one for minimal flow thru the filter and a second for impressive sound and sight) and reduce the loss. Remember that warmer water holds less oxygen and that plants contribute only during daylight hours - always keep your filter, waterfall or aerator operating "24/7".
When to fill the Pond Let Mother Nature refill the pond. Most pond plants will tolerate a range of depths. Let the water level drop (only bottom pool in a multi-pond system will drop but all collect rainfall) somewhat until rainfall brings it back up.
Adding more plants will help Water Lilies and other pond plants shade the pond surface, keeping the water cooler and reducing evaporative water loss.
Cleaning the Filter When it is necessary to clean your filter, use only a bucket or two of pond water. A quick rinse of the pads and/or brushes in a pail is all most filters will need. No scrubbing and no chlorinated water will preserve most of your beneficial bacteria. The pails of rinse water are wonderful fertilizer for your terrestrial plants - they'll appreciate the drink and the nutrients.