Pond Advice: Controlling Algae
QUESTION: We just bought a small acreage with a beautiful pond, but now it’s all covered with green slime.
ANSWER: The slimy pond scum you see is algae, which often bloom in the early months of spring. Pond algae can be found either floating on the pond surface or attached to aquatic plants, bottom sediments, or other hard surfaces. Microscopic algae are the most common type of algae; excessive blooms of the tiny, free-floating algae give pond water its characteristic green color.
It’s always best to stay ahead of any algae problem, and there are several things you can do before algae get out of control. Algae need three things to grow and “bloom”: nutrients, sunlight, and warm water. The nutrients can come from fertilizer, septic systems, geese, or other animals.
As a filtering and preventive measure, it’s a good idea to plant a buffer strip of long grass and vegetation around the edge of the pond. This will help remove the nutrients before they reach the water and cause a problem.
Greg Thomas of Summer Lawns and Landscapes in Boise, Idaho, recommends installing a sprinkler or fountainhead that can run continuously and “rain” on the pond surface. “This will help break the surface tension on the pond, preventing stagnant water and getting more oxygen to the pond,” Thomas explains. “The moving water will also keep mosquitoes from breeding on the pond’s surface.”
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