How to Clean a Small Garden Pond

Updated November 21, 2016

Small garden ponds are a delightful addition to any yard. While not suitable for koi fish, small ponds are perfect for many types of goldfish, mosquito fish and pond plants such as water lilies and water hyacinth. Ponds attract wildlife as well as birds, butterflies and frogs, and provide a breeding ground for voracious garden predators such as dragonflies. Smaller ponds have a distinct advantage over larger ponds--it takes much less work to clean and maintain them.

Pump 20 to 30 per cent of the pond water out of the pond. If the pond has a pump, disconnect the hosing to the filter and allow the water to be pumped into the garden. Remove the water with a bucket if the pond has no filter.

Fill the large bucket with pond water. Remove all of the floating plants and place them in the bucket. Move the bucket to a shady area.

Remove all large debris, fallen leaves and "muck" from the bottom of the pond with a rake. Remove all small debris with the pool net. If the water becomes cloudy, allow the water to clear, and remove any remaining particles that settle to the bottom. Remove any large strands of algae by hand, but leave some algae in the pond.

Fill the pond back up to the previous level with a slowly trickling garden hose. Filling the pond quickly decreases the water temperature too fast, and may shock any fish in the pond.

Add dechlorinating tablets, following the directions on the label. Remember to calculate the volume based on the amount of water removed, not the total volume of the pond.

Rinse the floating plants with the pond water from the bucket. Chlorinated tap water is not good for pond plants.Trim any dead material or roots from the plants. Replace the plants in the pond.

Connect the pump to the filter.


Reduce the amount of leaves falling into the pond by placing a pond net over the pond in the fall. Using a bucket to remove water may result in removing smaller fish, such as mosquito fish. Use a fish net to remove any small fish from the bucket and return the fish to the pond. Stocking the pond with floating plants that cover 50 to 60 per cent of the pond surface will keep the pond clearer and discourage algae growth. Some algae in the pond is natural and is healthy for fish. Using barley straw in the pond will help break down debris and leaf material.


Do not use chemicals or detergents to clean a pond.

Things You'll Need

  • Pump or siphon
  • Pool net (skimmer)
  • Small rake
  • Fish net
  • Large bucket
  • Garden hose
  • Rubber dish-washing gloves
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