What is it and what do I do with it?
Many new pond owners don't know about pond and leaf netting, many seasoned pond owners use it but aren't real sure why, and even many of those who know why don't necessarily know how. It's time to add some clarity to the issue of pond netting.
It's actually pretty simple. The primary reason for using netting over the pond is to keep leaves out of the water. (Netting can also be used to protect fish from predators. While that is another issue altogether, the anchoring section of this article is still relevant for this need.) But, the question may still linger, "Why do we need to keep the leaves out of our ponds?"
Obviously leaves covering the bottom of the pond look bad, but that is far from the main issue. As these leaves begin to decompose they release many compounds that put the lives of your fish at risk and promote algae growth. Pond keepers that have fish die in the winter often attribute it to the cold, but in actuality this fish loss is usually due to the leaf buildup in the pond. It may be possible to remove some of the leaves after they are in the pond and before they decay, but you can't get all of them and keeping them out is far easier.
You will find several options when choosing your leaf netting. The most obvious difference will be in the overall length and width. But, you also want to choose a netting with the proper mesh size. Simply put, what size are the holes? When using the pond netting for predator control a large mesh will suffice. For leaf prevention, you will want to look at what size the leaves that may reach the pond will be. Consider not only what size the leaf is when it has freshly fallen but what size it will be when it dries and shrivels.
Once the mesh size has been selected and the overall netting size determined, it becomes time to install the netting over the pond. There are more ways to do this then one might think. The simplest and most common installation method is to just stretch the netting across the pond and secure with rocks or tent stakes. Placing a length of rigid PVC across the middle or floating a beach ball can help keep the netting off the water surface. The leaf netting can also be attached to frames made of PVC pipe with cable ties and lay these across the pond for easier leaf removal. We also have Pond & Garden Protectors that are made of leaf netting built onto a domed framework.
With the netting down, leaves will collect and need to be removed regularly. Avoid letting the leaves stay too long as they may tear the netting as they get wet and heavy. If you have attached the netting to PVC frames, simply lift them over to dump the leaves off. It the pond netting is staked or tied, remove one side and flip it over to the opposite side. This usually takes two people. Some people choose to use a leaf blower to remove leaves that have collected on the netting.
Preventing leaf buildup in the pond will not only allow your fish to have a safer and healthier winter but enable to the pond to be off to a better start the following spring.
Again, since netting is also used for predator control and winter means no plants on the pond surface for fish to hide under, most pond keepers choose to leave the netting on the pond until spring.