How to Keep Your Pond Clean and Free of Leaves, Mud, and Other Waste

Updated on April 23, 2019
Jan Saints profile image

Januaris is a miniature-garden designer and author of landscaping guides. He loves to write about garden flowers, ponds, lawns, and hedges.

If you own a garden pond, you can agree with me that falling leaves, dust, and other debris are a major threat to this water feature. When these wastes get into your pond, they can harm the aquatic life and even damage the structure.

Leaves that have fallen into a pond start decaying, releasing harmful products which turn the water green or black. This means that they lower the water quality, making it unsuitable for aquatic life. Leaves and other debris can also clog parts of the pond, subjecting the structure to malfunctions.

In order to maintain a strong and healthy backyard pond, you must keep leaves and other debris out of the water feature and remove any dirt that gets into the water. If you do so regularly, you can be sure to raise attractive fish and stunning water plants, and above all, beautify your home.

In this article, I will discuss how to keep your backyard pond free from leaves, mud, and other wastes. Read on to learn how to prevent these wastes from getting into your water feature and how to remove any dirt that manages to get into the water.

a pond kept free from dirt
a pond kept free from dirt | Source

How to Keep Your Garden Pond Clean and Free From Leaves and Other Debris

  1. Trim branches that hang over the structure.
  2. Trap falling leaves and dirt with a net.
  3. Plant grass around it to trap dust.
  4. Install taller edges around the structure.
  5. Use clean water only.
  6. Install mechanical filters at the inlet.
  7. Install biological filters to deal with organic dirt.
  8. Use ultraviolet sterilizer at the inlet to kill harmful algae.
  9. Remove any dirt that manages to get into the reservoir.

Each of these steps is described in detail below, with photos to guide you.

1. Trim Branches That Hang Over the Pond

The problem of falling leaves is quite common in gardens with deciduous trees. If you have branches of these types of trees hanging over your pond, you can expect this problem to be worse.

To deal with the leaf fall problem, you need to trim any branches hanging over or near your water feature. You can also cut down the trees, but this is not recommended as trees can be quite beneficial in gardens.

2. Trap Falling Leaves and Dirt With a Net

If you are reluctant to cut your trees, this can be a great way to control the leaf fall problem. Commonly known as pond netting, the method involves installing a net over the structure to trap and hold any leaves falling from the trees. It is recommended when there is a heavy leaf fall i.e., in autumn and winter.

To install the netting structure, you need first to get wooden or metal stakes and the net. The net size should be longer and wider than the pond to help trap leaves on the edges. It is also recommended to get a small mesh net to help trap the tiny debris.

You can also choose nets that allow dirt to fall off instead of accumulating on them. These nets come in the shape of a dome, pyramid, or cone. The best thing about them is that they do not affect pond lighting and ventilation since they do not allow the accumulation of dirt.

After getting the right net, you need to fix the stakes (preferably 3 feet tall) around the pond and tie the net on them. You should ensure that the net covers the whole structure, including the edges. If your water feature is larger normal, you may have to fix wires or strings across it to provide maximum support to the net.

Some trees produce small debris (like pollen and other flower parts) that can pass through the net to the water. If you have these trees, you have to install a filter mat below the net to trap the minute particles.

Note: When the net has accumulated a large amount of debris, you need to empty it. This will prevent the net from falling into the water due the weight of the dirt. It will also allow the aquatic plants to get enough light.

If you think that your pond needs a net to keep it free from leaves and other debris, I recommend that you go for the Gardeneer By Dalen Pond Net. Before I came across this net I had used other nets that proved to be less effective and thus useless. I have used this net for almost 4 years, and it is still quite effective in trapping leaves and protecting my fish.

The net is designed to keep falling leaves out of the pond, water gardens and even pools. Its mesh size is 3/8", and so it can really trap the small debris. In addition to trapping leaves and debris, it protects koi and goldfish from predators such as cats and birds. It is available in different sizes, so you can always choose the size that suits your pond.

3. Plant Grass Around the Pond to Trap Dust

If your backyard pond is surrounded by a bare ground, you can have dust getting into the water. This problem is common in hot months when the soil is loose and easily blown by wind.

If you are affected by the dust problem, you can plant grass around the structure to trap the soil particles. Growing the grass will not only prevent this problem but also beautify your backyard.

4. Install Taller Edges Around Your Pond

Installing edges around your pond can help keep surface run-off out of your water feature. Run-off water is usually dirty and therefore you should not allow it to enter your pond. Installing edges can also prevent large debris from getting into the water.

a pond edged with stones
a pond edged with stones | Source

You can construct edges with stones and concrete, and you should ensure that the edges are strong enough to resist flood water and rolling solids. You can also construct a small trench on one side to direct the run-off away.

5. Use Clean Water Only

Water from contaminated sources can add dirt to your pond, so it is advisable to use water from clean sources when you want to add more to the reservoir.

You can even test any water that you want to add to your pond. Some things to look for when testing your water include heavy metals, harmful chemicals, dissolved solids, and disease-causing microorganisms.

6. Install Mechanical Filters at the Inlet

If your pond gets water from a supply system through an inlet, you need to install mechanical filters at the inlet to trap any debris carried by the water. It is recommended to install filters of different mesh sizes to help trap debris of all sizes.

The filters accumulate debris with time, so ensure you monitor them regularly and remove any accumulated dirt to avoid clogging. You need also to replace any broken or worn-out filters to maintain an effective filtering.

7. Install Biological Filters to Deal With Dirt

Biological filters help remove organic matter and harmful gases from water. They provide good living conditions for bacteria that break down suspended organic solids and compounds like ammonia and carbon dioxide.

When installing these types of filters, ensure you place them along the inlet channel (after mechanical filters) and in the reservoir. Like the mechanical filters, biological filters need to be cleaned, but partially to avoid killing all the bacteria.

8. Use Ultraviolet Sterilizer to Kill Harmful Algae

An ultraviolet sterilizer kills the single cell algae which is well known to turn stagnant water green. This type of algae also competes with aquatic plants for nutrients and other resources.

If you have the single cell algae in your pond, you can install the ultraviolet sterilizer in the reservoir to kill the algae. You can also use some algaecides to boost the sterilizer, but be careful when using these chemicals as most of them harm the beneficial aquatics. To remove the dead algae, you can use biological filters that host disintegrating bacteria.

9. Remove Any Dirt That Manages to Enter Your Pond

In order to keep your water feature free from dirt, you need to immediately remove any debris that manages to get into the water. If the debris is floating on the water near the edges, you can remove it with your hand.

If you cannot reach the floating debris with your hand, you can use a skimmer net. If the debris is settling at the bottom, you can use a pond vacuum to scoop it up. The bottom usually contains some important sludge, so you need to be careful not to remove this mud.

a skimmer net being used in a pond
a skimmer net being used in a pond | Source

Many skimmers have been manufactured, but most of them are ineffective - they break in the first day of use. If you are looking for a durable skimmer, I would recommend that you go for the Swimline Professional Heavy Duty Leaf Skimmer. I have been using this tool for close to 3 years, and it has never shown any signs of breaking. The super-strong skimmer has a sturdy plastic frame, fine-mesh basket and a tapered front edge to help scoop debris easily.

Some dirt can enter your pond and dissolve in the water, making it difficult for you to remove it. The dissolved dirt can be absorbed by aquatic plants and therefore get removed from the water. So it is recommended to grow more water plants to deal with this type of dirt.

If chemicals accidentally get into your pond, you can use flocculants, alkaline, or acidic substances to remove them or render them harmless. Flocculants clump chemical particles together making them easier to remove. The alkaline and acidic substances react with chemicals to produce harmless elements and compounds.


As you can see, it is quite possible to keep your backyard pond free from leaves, mud, and other wastes. You just need to choose and implement methods that can solve the exact debris problem in your garden. So keep leaves and dirt out of your pond and enjoy an attractive and healthy water feature.


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  • Crochet D.W. "Fish Pond Management Guide.". (PDF). eXtension. (2003).
  • F.A.O. Simple methods for aquaculture: "Management for Freshwater Fish Culture: Ponds and Water Practices.". Training Series. No. 21/1, Rome. (1996).
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • What product type do I use to dissolve the leaves that have already fallen to the bottom of my water garden?

    You can try this or any other product with good reviews.

© 2015 Januaris Saint Fores


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    • Jan Saints profile imageAUTHOR

      Januaris Saint Fores 

      3 years ago from Intercontinental

      Thank you, Ankurpatel1397

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Nice hub


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