The delicate water balance of a backyard fishpond changes every day. Fish waste, feeding, temperature and plant debris affect water quality. Plant debris in the form of leaves and pine needles upset this delicate balance. Pond leaf removal requires diligence on the part of the gardener to keep water quality stable. Regular leaf removal serves as an integral part of pond maintenance.
Evaluate the amount of leaves on the bottom of the pond if possible. A light leaf layer doesn't require use of a pond vacuum or a full cleaning of the pond. Thick debris layers may require heavier cleaning to remove all leaves and possible pond cleaning. Decomposing leaves increase the acid in pond water. To regulate the balance, always remove leaves as soon as possible to stabilize the water quality.
Scoop floating leaves out of the pond using a flat dip net. Avoid scraping the bottom of the pond since excess movement stirs up silt that obscures the view of the pond bottom. Dump all leaves directly into a lawn waste bag. Piling leaves behind edging plants increases the acidity of surface soil and might damage landscape plants. Leaves can be placed into the compost pile.
Lift all potted aquatic plants out of the pond to allow easier removal of leaves. Prune back dead or dying leaves using sharp pruning clippers. Trimming submerged and surface plants at this point eliminates potential litter in the pond.
Use the dip net to scoop leaves from the bottom of the pond. Dump the leaves directly into the yard waste bag. For heavy leaf layers, set up a pond vacuum according to manufacturers instructions provided with the machine. Pond vacuums suck up leaf debris and bottom sludge from the pond into a receptacle. Some models recycle water back into the pond. Make sure the water isn't too dirty before using this pond vacuum feature.
Rake leaves from around landscape plants to limit future incidence of leaves falling into the pond. Place aquatic plants back into the pond in their previous locations.
Install fine mesh netting over the pond in the fall to catch leaves during autumn leaf drop. Use a shop vacuum to easily clear leaves from the netting.