We take care of the pond the same way we do most of our yard - benign neglect. It's been an embarrassingly long time since I've cleaned it out. So Saturday afternoon, while hanging out in the back yard with the kids, I decided to clean out the pond's filter. If I had known then what I was getting myself into, I would never have started.
It turns out that the filter was completely overgrown and connected to all the other plants by a thick matting of roots. In fact, the whole bottom of the pond was one 6-inch-thick mat of roots and gack and slime.
After 30 minutes of fruitlessly trying to pull everything out, I came to the conclusion that it was time to put on my rain boots and wade on in. I ended up having to hack the mass into pieces with a spade and then wrestle it all out.
This about half of what I pulled out of the pond. It stank of rotting material and will probably be a good addition to our compost heap. Except I didn't realize until I had loaded all of this in the wheelbarrow that the front tire was flat. Fixing it would have meant pulling everything back out again, so it's still sitting on the walk in the back yard.
All of the kids were fascinated with this project. The took great interest in the bugs and slime that I pulled out. But they were terribly upset every time they thought I might have skimmed a minnow out along with the slime. So I gave the girls the job of skimming and saving the fish.
When B got home from work, he joined in the fun and climbing on in the pond, too. He's wearing my big plaid boots, but I think he'd kill me if I posted a picture of him modelling them. He took apart the pump, cleaned it, and installed new filtering material. Ella supervised his work to make sure he didn't accidentally scoop out any fish or slimy critters.
Of course, we had to go to a pond and garden store to buy new filtering material, and that turned into an expensive trip when you add up the plants and mulch we bought, too.
A mere 7 hours after I started, the pond was finally re-filled with a clean bottom, a functioning pump, and re-potted water plants - and lots of very happy minnows.