In theory our pond should get an annual cleaning to remove all the leaves and debris that fall into it throughout the year. Along with that task, we should also divide and repot the waterlilies as they are fast growers. But both are such big projects we tend to put them off.
This spring when Mark started the job we realized it had been at least two — and perhaps three — years since we'd last done it. And when I say we, I actually mean HE and usually he gets a pal to help out. (The pond is down the slope to the right of Mark).
Mark began by setting up a work station in the former moss garden which is only partly replanted. He then emptied the pond part way so he could find the containers of waterlilies. They are a heavy sodden mess to carry and to work with.
He discard old tubers, extraneous roots and gunk.
He made quite a pile of debris and all of it had to stay on one side of the pink tape which we'd put up to mark off where ferns and other things were planted and starting to appear.
He filled a large tub with plants, covered them with water, put screening over it all and a few rocks to keep the critter from pulling the wire off. The lilies stayed this way for a week or so before Mark repotted them. We've never done that before so we are hoping it all works out.
The next chore was cleaning the pond itself and I was the "guy" who helped Mark with this task when his original helper got sick. Mark donned chest-high rubber waders and rubber gloves that came up his arms past his elbows. He filled those big white plastic buckets in the first picture with the pond sludge and then lined them up along the edge of the pond. I would grab a pair and haul them over to the marked area and dump them. Since we were both working on this project neither one of us thought to take photos of this stage of the process.
As Mark got down to the bottom of the pond the debris was more concentrated and heavier and he had to fill the buckets according to my lifting abilities. This is where you really want a guy to help because I slowed the process down significantly. This shows the goop piled around Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty.'
Buckets of discarded waterlilies, and darker pond goop piled up deeper and deeper as the days went on.
A few days after these two projects were done Mark did have a hefty helper who raked this all up, put it into plastic bags and then Mark took it to the city's drop off site where they will turn it into compost. Now I'm raking up the last of the leaves and piling them on this spot to keep weeds from growing. Most of this debris dries to a thick almost impenetrable layer that nothing would grow through. We used to spread the thiner, slushier debris on the slope by the teahouse when it was under construction and nothing was planted there. After a number of years it created very nice soil.
Exactly how we will do this job in the future is unclear if I plant this area. The only way would be to clean the pond very late in the year or very early in the season before any plants are out of the ground. Either of those scenarios have Mark spending hours in very cold water which is not a great idea. We're hoping we'll come up with a solution before we have to do this chore again.