Aquatic Garden Preparation

Q. I have a small aquatic garden in my yard. How do I get it up and operating for summer?

A. Performing basic maintenance on your water feature as part of spring startup will enable it to be a source of enjoyment throughout the warm weather. Here are the basic steps.

• Once the marginal plants begin to grow, remove the pond cover and trim back any dead foliage.

• Verify that pumps and other electrical equipment are operating properly and repair as necessary.

• Service any filters according to their manufacturer’s instructions.

Overwintering Waterlilies


Q. Will my waterlilies overwinter outdoors?  If not, is there anything that I can do to keep them over the winter?

A. Your waterlilies' ability to survive the winter outdoors depends on whether the plants are hardy or tropical. Hardy waterlilies rated cold-hardy for Zone 5 will survive winter temperatures in the Chicago area for years, providing the rhizomes do not freeze during the winter. 

Keeping Ponds from Freezing

Q. I have a small garden pond with hardy waterlilies, some grasses and fish. How do I keep the pond from freezing this winter?

Fish for Backyard Pond

Q. I have a new pond with hardy waterlilies and other aquatic plants. I would like to add some fish. Any suggestions?

Fertilizer for Aquatic Garden

Q. What is the recommended fertilizer for a small aquatic tub garden?

A. A balanced formula of 10-10-10 should satisfy the needs of the grasses as well as any flowering lily or lotus in your tub. Slow-release fertilizer tablets are quick and easy. They also help to prevent the accumulation of algae, which can be a problem with granular fertilizers.

Getting rid of algae

Q. My small aquatic garden is beautiful, but there is too much algae on the water surface. How do I get rid of it?