Last month I scheduled more drought ideas for November, but with rains picking, I thought we could afford to put off drought remedies and attend to the more immediate needs of fall pond maintenance.
For many pond owners in the north, November is time to put the pond to bed. Like gardens, with ponds it's a good idea to remove dead vegetation. After leaf drop, you can rake around the shoreline and depending on your rake, you may be able to pull in leaves from far into the water. A long handle pond rake with a rope allows you to throw the rake far out and pull in lots of debris. Make sure to get the leaves out of the pond, gathered up and disposed of, so the leaves won't wash back into the water in rainfall or wind. As the water cools off in fall it often clears up so you can see the leaves and detritus that need removal. As long as you're at it, rake out weeds and algae too. If you don't have a pond rake, now might be a good time to step up your game and get one, and who knows, suppliers might be offering off season sales. The fewer the leaves now, the fewer nutrients for future algae and weeds.
Make sure your flow channels are clean and ready to handle increased rainfall, watershed runoff, and snowmelt. This means inflow streams, channels and drainage, and pipes. Eroded sediment, leaves, and general debris should be removed to prevent blockage and channel diversion and further erosion. Spillways should receive similar attention. Clean out earthen overflow channels. And pipe systems should be inspected to make sure inlets are free of obstruction, especially if trash guards or fish fencing are used. Be sure to inspect spillway inlet pipes if they are covered by docks, rocks, or other disguises. The discharge end of spillway piping should also be checked to remove possible blockages. If the outlet pipe discharges in an underwater pool, consider possible problems with freezing and blockage, and take remedial action if necessary. You don't want to be steaming open your frozen blocked up spillway in mid-winter to prevent pond flooding.
If you have floating docks, piers, or rafts, and they are customarily pulled out of the water for winter, don't forget. Ice can do them a lot of damage, and getting them out of the way of skaters will be appreciated too. The same goes for fallen limbs or trees in the pond, which may trip up skaters.
You might consider planning ahead for tree removal if the ice gets thick enough for safe pond work. Trees near or overhanging the pond that you may have considered removing can often be efficiently cut, dropped on the ice and skidded away.
Ice can also be used as a way to drop sand or gravel into areas of the pond desired for a beach or to smother weeds and algae. Deposit material on the ice, and in spring watch it drop into place.
Fall often means renewed water inflows, so summer well feeds may be turned off. The same goes for aeration, which is often turned off, since cooler water is less likely to trigger algae problems. Aerator diffusers are often pulled up in fall for cleaning, and compressor maintenance also performed. Of course, if a sizable number of fish are being raised over winter, aeration may want to be continued.
Check out this good coverage of current water conditions in Vermont, from floods to drought, in Seven Days.
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