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The Best Way to Clean Up a Green or Stagnant Pool, Pond or Water Garden

Updated on June 5, 2017
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Jay Duve is an avid gardener who focuses on natural landscaping features that improve our ability to enjoy nature.

Keep your water garden from becoming overgrown

Make Your Neighbors Green with Envy Over Your Clean, Clear Water Features

A gurgling fountain, tranquil backyard pond or pristine pool adds beauty to your home's landscape and can increase the marketability of your home, boosting its real estate value. But an algae bloom can quickly cloud over this potential — literally. Not only can green scum, murky water or ugly moss ruin the aesthetic of your pond, pool or water garden, but it can also kill your aquatic plants and animals while raising a stink. If you want to clean up your water garden and kill algae, you have several natural options.

Pond Cleanup Gear Checklist

Wading gear
Scoop net
Rake or similar garden tool
Water aerator for ponds or pools
Aquatic herbicide
Algae control

Suit Up

There's no need to get wet when you're cleaning up your pool. Full wading outfits are available at many landscape and farm stores. You may even be able to rent them if you don't plan on using them over the long term.

Wading boots are great for small backyard water gardens or shallow farm ponds, but you may want to consider a full wading suit if you're cleaning up bigger pools or ponds. Wading gear goes up to the top of your stomach and keeps you dry. This doesn't just keep you comfortable, but it helps protect you if the water is exceptionally dirty, contaminated, murky, stagnant or full of debris.

Tackling the Physical Debris in a Green Pool

Physically remove the organic debris that's contributing to the algae bloom or green scum before trying to tackle the actual green water:

  • Walk across the pool or pond and pull a scoop net behind you across the water's surface. This collects floating sticks, leaves, branches and other debris.
  • Use a kayak or rowboat if you're trying to clean up a very large pool or pond, such as a large backyard feature. Drag the scoop net behind your boat to quickly clear the water's surface.
  • Dredge the pond. Over the years, organic debris may have settled into a thick, rotting layer at the bottom of your pond. This serves as a massive source of nitrogen that contributes to annual algae blooms and the growth of pond scum. Dredging removes all of this accumulated waste, sediment and trash. Most landscape companies recommend dredging backyard ponds at least once every half decade. This ensures optimum water purity, clearness and beauty. Depending on your location, dredging can cost up to $20 USD for each cubic yard of surface area.

Kill and Remove Aquatic Weeds

Water gardens are typically stocked with aquatic plants like water lilies and water hyacinths. Don't let aquatic weeds choke out your water garden. Aquatic herbicides can help to manage or remove algae growth and eradicate underwater weeds and aquatic vegetation growing along the edges of your backyard pond, pool or fountain.

In most cases, these products kill off unwanted green blooms and aquatic weeds within 7 to 10 days, depending on factors like the size of your pond and the weather.

Most successful aquatic herbicide use the active ingredient glyphosate, while others use an ingredient known as fluridone. Brand names include:

  • Sonar
  • Aquatic Herbicide by AquaPro
  • Crystal Blue by Cattplex

WARNING: Always apply aquatic herbicide to your green pool in accordance with the manufacturer's label. Product potency varies widely.

Post-Herbicide Cleanup

After cleanup, don't let the green bloom, scum or algae return. Regular pond and pool maintenance keeps your water features looking pristine, beautiful and smell-free. Most unwanted green scum and algae blooms are due to two major causes:

  • Excessive nutrients in the water
  • Excessive sunlight

Keep the edges of your water feature clear of debris and regularly skim off floating organic debris. If you have aquatic plants or fish, limit fertilization and avoid overfeeding your fish. All this helps to keep nitrogen levels in check and keep the water from turning green and smelly.

If you live in a very sunny climate, consider covering the surface of the water. This can be done using either floating plants like water lilies, or an aquatic pond water dye like Aquashade. This limits how much ultraviolet light gets into the water.

Finally, consider using an aerator. It could be a utilitarian water pump, or an aesthetically pleasing add-on like a decorative fountain. Well-aerated ponds or pools are less likely to become stagnant and brown or green.

Cover the Surface Of Your Pond

For the best results, shading 20-30% of your water garden's surface can help to keep water temperatures stable and block out excessive sunshine that could lead to an overabundance of algae, moss and aquatic weeds. Try using floating ornaments or floating vegetation such as these water lilies. Water lilies don't just block out the sun but also help to filter the water and maintain water purity and clarity.

© 2017 Jay Duve


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