Offering spring cleanout services is a great way to strengthen your business and customer base. Providing this on-site service allows you to stay in front of your customer. If your customer is home when you visit for maintenance service, you receive valuable facetime giving you the opportunity to share new and upgraded products for their pond, or to offer to expand the size of their pond because their fish are getting too big for the pond they have now. In addition, cleanout services provide an opportunity to attract new customers who may have inherited a pond with the purchase of a home.
Spring cleanouts provide valuable revenue that you can earn prior to the pond-building season. Cleanouts should be preformed in early spring which adds a couple more months of earning potential.
Why We Recommend Cleaning Ponds Once a Year
After a pond runs for an entire year, we like to start the new season off fresh. Cleaning a pond in the spring simulates the normal flushing action that lakes fed by streams and rivers experience during heavy spring rains. Most of our customers’ ponds are shut down during the winter allowing leaves and other debris that have blown into the pond to settle and tint the water a tea color. Replacing this water with fresh, clean, and clear water eliminates the color as well as the excessive nutrients that have built up in the pond over the previous year.
Do You Have to Perform a Full Cleanout?
Every pond is different, and some ponds don’t require a clean out. Ponds with a surface area larger than 2000 square feet might need to only be cleaned out every few years. Larger ponds may never need a complete clean out because the ecosystem is so healthy and heavy rains replenish large quantities of water at a time. In essence, the larger the pond, the easier it is to maintain (just like a fish tank). You can tell by simply looking at the pond if it needs to be cleaned. If the pond looks the same in March as it did last June, it’s probably okay to take a pass for this year.
Why We Clean Ponds in The Spring
When to clean a pond is sometimes a topic of debate. Some recommend cleaning a pond in the fall. They theorize that the fish are healthier in the fall (when they are fattened up for winter) than they are in the spring. Since fish get stressed during a cleanout, logic tells them that it’s better to clean the pond in the fall when fish are their healthiest.
The problem we find with cleaning out ponds in the fall is that most pond owners shut their ponds down in the winter which often results in poor water quality come springtime. No matter how thorough the fall cleanout is, you will have a difficult time starting out the spring season with crystal clear water. There is no doubt in our minds that spring is the best time of year to clean a pond. This gets the pond ready for the season and flushes the system the way Mother Nature does it herself.
Don’t Scrub Away Algae
Remember, the goal with a pond cleanout is not to sterilize the pond! String algae is a natural and healthy part of an ecosystem if it’s kept in check. Don’t waste your time scrubbing algae and getting every last surface clean. Simply remove all the large debris by hand and do a quick once over with a power washer. Offer to install an IonGen™ System to help control algae throughout the year.
After power washing, use the water from a garden hose, pouring out over the stones and gravel, to channel debris to the pond bottom where your pump will remove it. We typically pump the pond water through a flexible hose to a drainage point in the yard. Start on the top ledge and slowly work your way down, using only the pressure of the unrestricted hose water. After doing this for 20-40 minutes, you will notice that the water pooling up around the cleanout pump is relatively clean. This is an indication that the vast majority of solids, that were not digested by the bacteria, have been cleaned out. You are now ready to begin filling the pond.
While the pond is filling, the media nets and filter mats found in the BioFalls® Filter can be removed and pressure washed clean. The empty BioFalls Filter can be scooped clean of any remaining sediment before replacing the mats and media nets.
If the Pond Was Shut Down During the Winter
If the pond was shut down for the winter, the waterfall pump that was stored inside can be installed back into the skimmer and re-connected to the plumbing. The fish can be introduced back into the pond once it is approximately 1/3 filled. Be sure to add Pond Detoxifier before adding fish if the tap water is from a city water supply. Acclimate the fish to the water temperature by floating them in a small bucket for 10-15 minutes. Slowly introduce some of the pond water into the bucket. This will prevent the fish from going into shock from any sudden temperature change.
Final Thoughts on Pond Cleanouts
Pond cleanouts are an important service to offer to your customers. Although it can be cold and dirty work, it’s done at a time of the year that would be difficult to do construction, so it produces additional income and work for your company.
We consider cleanouts a service that allows our customers to enjoy their clean ponds for an entire year. A little less than half of our customers clean their own ponds. They usually spend an afternoon on a spring weekend tackling this project. Some customers don’t clean their ponds and don’t mind having water that isn’t always crystal clear.
One problem you’ll probably experience every year is the customer who doesn’t schedule a clean out in spring and calls you in May to have it done. Cleaning out a pond when the temperature of the water is greater than 55 degrees disrupts an ecosystem that’s in the process of establishing itself . If a clean out is performed this time of year, beneficial bacteria colonies may be reduced. During this time, excessive nutrients in the water (the ones a bacteria colony eat) may cause the water to turn green until the bacteria can catch up. This may require the addition of bacteria more often (daily) to get the colonies of bacteria re-established.
To remind your customers, and to help you schedule jobs close together, notify customers of your clean out prices and program several weeks prior to beginning clean outs. The Aquascape ProShop offers spring cleanout post cards and flyers that you can customize for your business. If you do landscaping, you can also offer to re-do your customers’ mulch and any other spring clean-up work they would like done on their yard at the same time.
For more information on fish care during cleanouts, read How to Keep Fish Safe During Pond Cleanouts.
- Shut off the water fill valve and begin draining the pond using either a small pump or the pump from the skimmer. If the pond has fish, begin filling a container to hold all the fish with the same pond water.
- With six inches of water left in the pond, catch any fish present and place them into the containers holding the pond water you just pumped out so as not to send them into shock from a rapid temperature change.
- Remove any solid waste such as leaves or twigs by hand while the stones are being washed.
- Begin washing down the pond rocks with either a jet type sprayer or hose, starting from the filled pond line and working your way toward the bottom of the pond all the while pumping out the collecting water. (After the initial power wash, use only the pressure of the hose water to channel dirt to the bottom.)
- After hosing down the pond, we wash off the filter pads from the skimmer and BioFalls Filter.
- Transfer the fish to smaller buckets of the old pond water and float them in the pond as the water fills it back up. Pond Detoxifier is added to the tap water to remove chlorine before returning fish. Release fish while the pond fills.