THIS MIGHT SEEM HARD TO BELIEVE, but by the time the Chicago River is green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, algae is already forming in your community pond. Even in the freezing Midwest winter conditions, weeds and algae have been growing beneath the surface of your water. When the first aquatic plants or algae blooms appear on the surface of your water body in the spring, the ecological balance in your water may already be compromised and in need of a helping hand.

It is no small feat to keep residents satisfied with the aesthetics of their community pond. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and every individual has different expectations of a pond’s appearance.

The good news is, a little preventative work timed with the changing seasons will make a big difference in the overall appearance and water health of your community pond. But first, a quick education on what is growing in your pond!


The presence of weeds and algae in your pond is common, purposeful and even advantageous to overall water wellness – providing it remains managed and balanced. Plant life at and below the water surface and along the shoreline is important to the overall aquatic ecosystem. Aquatic plants help mitigate nutrient load, oxygenate water, and provide food to aquatic life. But if plant or algae growth gets out of control, or if invasive plants enter your water body, your water will begin to exhibit symptoms of being unwell. Weed and algae growth is influenced by a variety of factors, including temperature, rainfall, run off, overall nutrient load, water depth, clarity and pH, among others. Many of these are forces of nature and cannot be controlled, so the factors of influence on your water body are constantly changing.


There are two main categories of aquatic plants: native and invasive. And, there are literally hundreds of plants species in each category!

Native plants are your water’s friends. Their presence will clarify the water and add oxygen to the pond, allowing fish to thrive. But, the amount of native plant growth in a water body still needs to be managed. Overgrown native plants can be unsightly and create stagnant water at the surface, which creates an ideal breeding habitat for mosquitoes and other pests to lay their eggs.

Invasive species, the foes, do not belong in your water in any amount. This type of plant life can quickly take over your water body, choking out native plants, aquatic organisms and other wildlife who rely on the water source. Complete prevention can be nearly impossible – invasive plant seeds are carried into the water through birds and animals, or even from fishing equipment, wading boots, or boat bottoms. As a result, a watchful, professional eye must always be kept on your water in order to quickly respond to the unexpected arrival of an invasive plant.

Similarly, algae is a vital component of a thriving water system and there are many beneficial strains. It contributes to overall water quality by absorbing nutrients from run-off and providing oxygen and food to plants, fish and invertebrates in

the water system. However, too much algae growth can be a problem, and will throw off the ecological balance of your water body. Some algae blooms also have the potential to be harmful to humans and animals. Because it can be difficult to know what type of algae is in your pond without inspection, identification and scientific diagnosis, you’ll want an aquatics professional checking your pond routinely to keep algae levels in check.


Across the Midwest, Mother Nature comes back to life in the spring. The ice thaws and the first budding plants begin to peek out of the ground. This is also when we can help our ponds get off to a good start. Here’s how:

• Start on the shoreline: Ask your landscapers to clean-up the shoreline and banks surrounding your pond. This includes removing down branches and cleaning up remaining leaves and trimmings from last fall. Ask them to avoid blowing grass clippings and other trimmings into your pond once they begin their weekly mowing and landscape service. Why? You do not want this organic matter in your water. It will decompose quickly, add unnecessary nutrient load, and will likely cause a quick algae bloom.

• Move into the water: Apply the same clean-up logic to any dead branches, plants, or weeds that ended up in your pond over winter. This will help minimize the nutrient load in your water and reduce the risk of an early season fish kill. Consider talking to your landscaper about what clean-up they may be able to help with from the shore, and also discuss how to best approach the work with your aquatic services provider.

• Check your equipment: Many community ponds have a fountain or aeration system in place. Sub-service aerators stay in your pond year-round, but fountain systems are removed and stored for the winter, and then re-installed each spring. Expect your aeration and fountain contractor to recommend and perform maintenance on these systems each spring to extend their useful life. Annual maintenance may include a full system check, changing filters, oil and seal changes, flushing air hoses, and balancing air stations for optimal output. Not only do aerators and fountains enhance the aesthetics • 847.301.7505 | 35

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