How to clean a small garden pond?

How to clean a small garden pond

Cleaning is essential for enjoying your garden pond for a long time. Even a small pond requires regular maintenance. Use our pond sludge vacuum to make the cleaning process easier. You can also streamline the cleaning process with proper pond planning and seasonal care. This article highlights important cleaning tasks for small garden ponds.

What to consider when planning your garden pond

If you haven’t constructed your garden pond yet, think about easy cleaning during the planning phase. Larger, deeper ponds warm up more slowly and are less prone to algae growth. However, space limitations may lead to a smaller pond. Still, ensure the pond is at least 80 centimeters deep at its deepest point, preferably one meter. To prevent rapid warming in summer, place your small pond in the shade or partial shade. Avoid placing it under trees or bushes to minimize leaf debris.

Consider a capillary barrier for even small ponds. Your pond liner should extend a few centimeters above the ground to prevent soil from washing into the pond during rain. Use plant baskets and low-nutrient pond soil for your aquatic plants. Cover the soil with gravel to prevent it from washing into the pond.

Use a Pond Net

In the fall, don’t forget to use a pond net to prevent leaves from falling into the pond. Such nets are ideal for small ponds. They prevent leaves from sinking to the pond bottom. Clean the net daily, and you can build a wooden frame to support the net, allowing leaves to slide down on both sides.

Regularly Remove Debris

During the summer, even small garden ponds require regular checks of water quality. You might need to replace a portion of the water if necessary. Remove fallen debris such as leaves, petals, or insects with a pond skimmer every day. You can use an algae brush or stick to remove string algae. Twisting the stick or brush in the water causes the algae to wrap around it. These tasks are important for preventing the accumulation of sludge from debris sinking to the pond bottom.

Remove Dead Plant Parts

In a small pond, it’s not a labor-intensive job to regularly inspect your plants. Prevent plants from spreading excessively, and avoid fast-growing plants like reeds. While plants are crucial, use species that contribute to water purification, like hornwort or waterweed. Small water lilies are suitable for small ponds. Check your plants at least once a week in the summer for dead parts and remove them to prevent algae and sludge formation. Regularly trim the plants around the garden pond, and also remove wilted flowers to prevent parts from falling into the pond.

Sedges for Pond Clarification

Plant a Carex appropinquata (sedge) in the shallow zone of your small pond. It helps in pond cleaning by absorbing the nutrients responsible for algae blooms from the pond water. However, ensure you control it to prevent overgrowth.

Pond Skimmer or Pond Filter – Yes or No?

For small ponds, a skimmer or filter may not always be necessary. There are skimmers and filters designed for smaller ponds. Skimmers automatically remove debris from your pond’s surface. You won’t need to manually remove leaves and flower pollen with a pond skimmer, but you’ll need to clean it regularly to maintain its functionality.

A filter is useful if you have fish in your small pond. In a small garden pond, only introduce a few fish and feed them the amount they can consume. Fish waste and uneaten food sink to the bottom and lead to sludge formation. Biological filters containing beneficial bacteria are suitable for this purpose. These bacteria break down impurities, and they live in the filter sponges. To preserve the useful bacteria, don’t rinse the filter sponge with clear water, but squeeze it by hand. Some filters indicate when they need cleaning.

A filter with a UV clarifier is usually unnecessary for smaller garden ponds. A UV clarifier eliminates germs and suspended algae. These filters typically include a pump that circulates water into the filter. The pump should only run during the pond season. When you prepare your pond for winter, disassemble the pump.

How Often Should You Clean Your Small Pond?

For larger ponds, cleaning at least once, preferably twice a year is recommended. However, small ponds tend to become dirty more quickly. Therefore, it’s advisable to clean them at least twice a year – in spring at the beginning of the pond season and in autumn when you winterize it. Additional cleaning during the summer might be helpful as well, as algae can form rapidly.

Check Your Pond for Sludge and Remove It

You can’t entirely prevent sludge formation, but you can quickly remove it from a small pond with a sludge vacuum. This is crucial even outside of regular cleaning to avoid water issues that can be fatal for your pond inhabitants. To remove sludge, you don’t need to drain the pond. Simply vacuum the sludge from the pond bottom. Sludge is rich in nutrients and makes excellent fertilizer for fruit trees or hedges. You can also dispose of the sludge on your compost pile, where it will decompose and improve your garden soil. After removing the sludge, you may need to top off the water to maintain the pond’s water level and prevent it from warming up too quickly in summer.

Prune Your Pond Plants

Thoroughly clean your pond in the autumn and, if necessary, in the summer. Even small ponds benefit from a water return system. You don’t need to drain the entire pond. If you have fish in your pond, place them in a separate container before cleaning. Remove the sludge from the pond bottom during cleaning. Use a pond brush, which is available as an accessory for our sludge vacuum, to clean the pond walls and bottom. Choose a suitable pond brush from our selection that’s designed for small ponds. Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the pond, reintroduce the plants. Refill the water and return the fish to the pond.


Regular cleaning is essential for small garden ponds as they tend to accumulate sludge and develop algae more quickly. Cleaning should be performed at least twice a year – once in spring at the start of the pond season and again in autumn during winter preparation. Additional cleaning in the summer can also be beneficial to prevent rapid algae growth. Regularly removing debris and dead plant material helps reduce cleaning efforts. A sludge vacuum can be a valuable tool for easier cleaning.

Florian Egert

I am Florian Egert, the owner of I live with my wife and two children in Germany in a small village in the countryside.

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