About Kerri Bailey

Kerri Bailey has been working with Aquatic Plants since the late 1980's. She graduated from IUP in 1992 with a BS in Biology. In 1998 she moved to the PNW and worked in local Nurseries and in 2004 for Pacific Water Gardens. She developed The Pond Pad in 2006 closing her retail store in 2015. Kerri continues to Clean Ponds, Write & Teach.

Pond Cleaning Images

Last summer I injured both of my knees and decided it was time to Retire from Cleaning and Maintaining Ponds. I was lucky to run into a old colleague, Landon Moore- that has an established Installation, Maintenance and Pond Store. So I have merged my clients with Nature Perfect and work at the pond store- Nature Perfect Pond and Supply- Monday-Thursday….stop in at 2905 Black Lake Blvd SW Tumwater 360-412-0309 

      Call: 360-280-5116 Nature Perfect For a Pond Cleaning Quote

Call or Text 253-332-2158  for questions or Email: thepondpad@gmail.com

Water Gardening Consultations and Pond Cleaning

Water Garden Consultations & Pond Cleaning

Inquire at thepondpad@gmail.com

We have been cleaning ponds for over 10 years and take the utmost care of your fish and plants while maintaining the integrity of your pond.

I have decided to retire from pond cleaning and let the younger generation take over. So glad I ran into Nature Perfect, a company I trust and will take as good of care of your pond as I would. Visit me Monday-Thursday at Nature Perfect Pond and Supply store in Tumwater Monday-Thursday 2905 Black Lake Blvd SW Tumwater 98512 360-412-0309

If you only need a Consultation, Nature Perfect can help there as well. Rates depend upon your location and project expectations. Just give us a call- 360-280-5116  or find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thepondpad

Water Gardening and Pond Classes coming soon through Herbal Elements Academy

Classes will be available at The Pond Pad.com on:

• Water Garden Plants
• Fish Care
• Pond Cleaning and Maintenance

See our blog and article section for additional
 email… Pond Pad   to sign up for a class
Class in the garden.

Pond Pad (1)


How to build a “Pond-Less” Water Fall

by Kerri Bailey, The Pond Pad

1. Select your site, somewhere you can enjoy it.  Avoid installing a pond on the low side of the yard or where water collects (water can get under the liner and cause problems). Be mindful of the surrounding landscape-leaves from trees and shrubs that may collect in your pond in the fall or evergreens that may shed year round.

2. Mark out your basin with a garden hose or landscape paint.  Dig your hole 2-3 feet deep.  Build a berm using the excavated soil and add more if needed. Compact your berm area well, it will sink over time.


3. Add an underlayment or some other protection down prior to adding your basin liner piece.  To figure out your liner:  Length=Length  (Depth x 2) + 2  Width=Width (Depth x 2)+2  Place your pump vault / canyon in the lowest end of your basin.  Insert your pump inside the vault and connect your plumbing and hose.  The hose then goes to the top of the berm to be connected to the weir or biological filter.


4. Fill the basin with larger cobble stones graduating to smaller gravel near the top.  Hide your pipe along the outer edge, burying it with soil, then cover with liner.  Stair step your berm with a curve to it for multiple views and for a more natural look.

5. Install the waterfall / stream liner piece and over lap it with the basin.  You should have at least a 6 inch rise to avoid the water wicking under the liner creating a leak. Install the weir or biological filter inside the top of the berm. Attach the liner to the weir, use silicone to seal the faceplate. Place larger rocks or boulders along the curves of the waterfall.

6. Place the rest of your rocks along the sides and edges of your waterfall and basin area. Start to fill your basin with water. Finish building your waterfall and use waterfall foam sealing around the rocks.  This allows the water to go over the rocks for more sound and better water flow.  

7. Adding decorative rocks along the edges and on top of the gravel in the basin- large stones add character and break up the look of the of small rock. When the basin is full, plug in your pump and continue to fill with water until it is entirely full.

8. Add soil to your berm and install plants along the edges. Use plants with staggered bloom times for year round enjoyment.







Pond and Waterfall Calculations

Figuring out what you need to build your pond is an important factor to determine it’s cost and efficiency.  The following guidelines should help you. Ask for help at thepondpad@gmail.com

                          How to Estimate Gallon Capacity

Circular Pond: R2 x 3.14 x Depth x 7.48 = Approx. Gal. R2= Radius x Radius (Radius is ½ of the total length)

Irregular /Rectangular Pond: Length x Width x Ave. Depth x 7.48= Approx.Gal.

Irregular Pond w/shelves: Length x Width x Depth x 7.48 x .66= Approx. Gal.

Streams: Length x Width x .25 (Depth) x 7.48= Approx.Gal.

How to Calculate Pond Liner Size.

Length= Length + (Depth x 2) + 2      Width= Width + (Depth x 2) + 2

Example: 8 x 10, 2′ deep L= 10′ + (2×2) + 2= 16′ W= 8′ + (2×2) + 2= 15′ 

                                    Electrical Conversions / Consumption

WATTS= Volts x Amps AMPS= Watts / Volts 1HP= 745.7 Watts

Approximate Electrical Cost to run a pump, etc.

Amps x Volts x 1000 x .10(KW per hour) x 24hrs x 30.4 days=$ / month

                           Aquatic Plant Calculations

Water Lilies: 1 per every 45-60 Sq F

Marginal Plants: 1 plant per every 3′-4′ shelf margin

Bog Plants: 1 plant for every 2′ of bog


                            Rock Calculations- For Gravel & Boulders

Boulders for Pond Basin:

Length x Width / 65 Tons of Boulders Use a 1:2:1 ratio

For every 1 Ton of 6”-12” rock; get 2 Tons of 12”-18” and 1 Ton of 18”-24” rock

½ Ton of 6”-12” of rock will cover 20 linear feet

1 Ton of 12”-18” of rock will cover 10 linear feet

1 Ton of 18”-24” rock will cover 5 linear feet

Boulders for Stream– For every 10′ of Stream, Use 3/4 Tons of rock using ratio above.

Boulders for Waterfall– Use 1 Ton of rock per each 3′-4′. Choose some larger stones for support, and some rocks with flat or interesting faces for the waterfall.

Gravel for Pond Basin– Use 40% total tons used for pond boulders calculations

Gravel for Streams– Use ½ Ton for every 10′ of stream

Pondless/ Disapearring Waterfall– Length x Width x Depth = Cubic feet

Use 90lbs of rock per each cubic foot; Use Ratio of: 40% 4”-6” Rock

(for the bottom of the basin) and 60% of 1 1/2” – 2” rock (for middle and top layer). Add decorative gravel / rock as a top dress.

These are guidelines to help you, always over estimate whenever possible. Any left over rock can be blended into your surrounding landscape.

www.alpinegrows.com         www.thepondpad.com

Feeding Koi & Goldfish

by Kerri Bailey

How Often Should I feed my  Koi & GoldFish?

Water Temperature = # Daily Feedings & Total Amt. to Feed (/body weight)


>50°F 0  0 do not feed                         5055°F  1-2 times a week >1%

5560°F 2 times a week 0.5%              6065°F 3-4 times a week 1%

6570°F 1 X day 1.5%                           7075°F 2 X day 2%

7580°F 3 X day 2.5%                           8085°F 2 X day 1.5%

8590°F 1 X day 1%                             <90°F 0  0 do not feed

We feed our fish to maximize and enhance their vibrant colors, growth, and longevity. Koi are omnivorous opportunistic feeders that need a balanced diet of protein and plant matter. Just don’t overfeed, it’s better to under feed than overfeed! Take out uneaten food before it spoils the water-adding to algae blooms.    

Healthy Water=Healthy Fish

What type of diet should I feed my fish?  

Koi are naturally bottom feeders, so feeding floating food is best. There are several types of food on the market-flakes, sticks or pellets. Feeding a mix of foods and cold water or wheatgerm based diets are great for the Pacific Northwest, where we have colder water.

Protein-helps increase growth & reproduction 31-42% crude protein Fats give fish energy, 2-3% crude fat. Carbohydrates offer an energy boost but also help fish process nutrients (cheerios and oatmeal). Vitamins and minerals regulate their metabolism and Vitamin C aids immunity.

How do I start to feed my fish in the Spring?

Start off with Cold water fish food / wheatgerm diet, or you can feed uncooked Quaker Oats or pre-soaked Cheerios. Feed sparingly to start to reduce the risk of illness- if scales beginning to raise or turn red, stop feeding and watch them. If the scales don’t go down, try treating with an antibacterial medication and move fish into a heated hospital tank.

If you have any questions please direct them to thepondpad@gmail.com

Kerri Bailey, owner of The Pond Pad, has been working with aquatic plants and herbs since 1989 and has been in the pond and horticulture industry since 1998.  She has a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist. 




Wonderful Water Plants

by Kerri Bailey, revised 3/20/18

Water or aquatic plants are essential features for any pond or water garden. They add beauty and color softening the rocks, while providing shelter for fish. The bonus is that they also help keep your water clear and fish healthy. Water plants also compete with algae for nutrients and consume excess fish waste.  So you may want to add more plants to your pond to increase your filtration and pond appeal.

What are Water Plants?

So, what are water plants? They range from plants that tolerate wet feet and areas to plants that can be completely submerged in water. These plants can survive and thrive in wet areas year round (or naturally for their life cycle). Many common garden plants can be used in ponds or bogs that grown along the edges (margins) and stream areas. When plants are grown in water, they produce a different type of roots than soil grown plants. Aquatic roots are long and filamentous with feathery looking root hairs. These roots grow into the water for searching for nutrients, oxygen and are used to anchor themselves. Some plants float on the waters surface that have air bladders inside their leaves or stems to keep them buoyant with roots that grow completely submerged.

Water Plant Groups

Water plants are classified into four main groups: “Water Lilies and Lily-Like”, Marginals, Floaters and Submerged plants. Each plant group is dependent upon where they grow in the pond or how deep they can be submerged in water.

Water Lilies are the jewels of the pond.  The root or rhizome   grows in deep water (1′-4′) with stems that grow upward toward the water surface.  Leaves and flowers float on the water surface or slightly above.  Water lilies are divided into two types- Hardy and Tropical.  Hardy Water Lilies are hardy from zones 3-9 and can be grown just about anywhere in the country year round. They typically are day bloomers that are available in many colors with leaves and flowers that float on the waters surface.  Tropical Water Lilies need warmer temperatures (above 65ºF) and are usually treated as annuals or winterized inside.  They come in vibrant bloom colors with leaves and flowers that stand out above the waters surface. They are either day or night blooming. Check your zone at: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/

Lily-Like Aquatics  Grow similarly to hardy water lilies but have smaller leaves and flowers, and grow in shallower water depths.  They are very versatile working well in containers and in small ponds.  The lily-likes vary in leaf size and shape, temperature hardiness and flower form.

Marginal Plants  A very large group of plants that grow on the margins of ponds, bogs or stream edges.  They are grouped as hardy or tropical- hardy plants survive below zone 9  and tropicals survive above zone 9.  Iris & Cattails are hardy marginals and Taro & Papyrus are tropical marginals. Some marginals can survive in wet soil to a few inches of water depth, and others can grow deeper (up to a foot of water).

Floating Plants or Floaters  Plants that float on the waters surface with their roots submerged into the water.  Their leaves have air bladders that keep them buoyant.  Most are annuals ( Water Hyacinths, Water Lettuce) some are hardy (Azolla, Frogbit)


Submerged Plants  What most people think of as “water weeds”.  

They are often referred to as “oxygenators” which is misleading, as all water plants consume and produce oxygen. These plants are found under the water surface either freely floating or anchoring themselves to the  bottom.  At times they may grow at the waters surface or out of the water.  Most have insignificant flowers, others have delicate blooms.  Many are considered “noxious weeds” so check the list to see what you can grow in your state http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxious?rptType=Federal

WA State see:  http://www.nwcb.wa.gov/ab_weedlaw.htm

Learn more about water plants at ThePondPad.com or email at:  thepondpad@gmail.com

Kerri Bailey, owner of The Pond Pad, has been working with aquatic plants and herbs since 1989 and has been in the pond and horticulture industry since 1998.  She has a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist.



Hardy Water Lily Care

by Kerri Bailey, revised 3/20/18.                                                                                     Hardy Water Lilies are perennials that come back each spring year after year and go dormant in late fall.  They can live for several years up to 20 years or more, provided they are properly cared for.

Placement:  Full sun, up to 6 hours of sun a day for abundant blooms, although there are a few varieties that can take less sun (Burgundy & Dark Red colored varieties can fade in too much sun).  Water lilies do best in moving water that is oxygenated by a pump, stagnant water may cause them to rot out.  Avoid water splashing on the leaves, and heavy wind & wave action that causes leaves to pull away from stems.

Water Depth: Water lilies are submerged plants- the roots need to be in the water with theleaves floating on the top of the water.  The roots or pot should be submerged at least in a foot of water up to 2.5′ / 3′. Dwarf varieties can be in less water, the larger ones should be grown in deeper water.  In natural ponds that have stiller water, water lilies can grow in up to 6′ water depth.  If lilies are planted too deep, the stems can break away from the rhizome (tuber).

Fertilizing: Fertilize your water lilies around April or May, monthly until August/September. Do not fertilize your plants when they are dormant and follow the directions on the package.  Use only aquatic fertilizer tablets- not fertilizer meant for soil plants- you can get algae blooms and possibly kill your fish.  You don’t have to fertilize them if you have a heavy fish load, the fish waste turns into nutrients for the plants to absorb.  If your lilies aren’t blooming, they may need to be divided, re-potted or need fertilizer.

Dividing: Divide mature plants when overcrowded, or have out grown their pot.  In warmer areas, divide your lilies more often, cooler areas divide less often (shorter growing seasons) or every 3-4 years in late spring.  If you clean out your pond, that would be a great time to deal with your aquatic plants-dividing, fertilizing, cutting back foliage, etc. Water Lilies planted directly into the pond may need to be divided every 2-3 years as they will grow faster than they will potted.  A divided water lily needs at least 6 weeks of good growing weather in order to survive winter.  Use a sharp, clean knife and cut 4″-5″ of rhizome on medium to large types and 2″-3″ pieces on smaller types.  Make sure there is at least 1-2 side eyes per division.

Planting:Plant your water lily directly into the pond, or submerge a potted lily in 1′-3′ ofwater depth.  Do not use a planting mix, potting soil or compost intended for soil plants.  These mixes use a lot of oxygen as they break down and can cause your tuber to rot or cause algae blooms.  Use an inert medium- top soil, sandy loam, gravel or an aquatic plant “soil”.   See my blog on Planting Hardy Water Lilies for more details.

Pest Control:  Water lilies get few pests & diseases.  Aphids can be a problem and can spread quickly.  Never use a pesticide on any pond plant that is not labeled safe for aquatic life- fish are very sensitive!  A natural method is to coat the leaves of the lily infected with aphids with “Diatomaceous Earth”or DE- a whitish powder make up the shells of microscopic organisms called diatoms (avoid breathing in the dust particles).

The sharp edges of the diatoms cut the insects and suffocate them.  Wait a day and spray off your lily pads with a gentle stream from a garden hose.  You may have to repeat this several times until they are gone.  The fish may eat some of the aphids for you and the DE will not harm fish.  Another potential problem is root rot, which usually happens to potted lilies.

Dead Heading / Leaf Care: Each water lily bloom lasts up to 5 days or so, opening and closing each day until it expires. You can cut spent flowers to stimulate more blooms and to keep your lilies tidy.   Dead or ugly leaves can be trimmed as needed.  Do not cut the “indicator” leaves that grow out from the base of the tuber, they tell the plant when to grow in the spring.

If you have any questions email at: thepondpad@gmail.com or stop by ThePondPad.com.  Kerri Bailey, owner,  has been working with aquatic plants since 1989 and in the horticulture & pond industry since 1998.  She has  a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist.  See her other blogs on Planting Hardy Lilies and  Water Lily Facts.

How to Plant a Hardy Water Lily


Hardy Water Lilies come in generally 2 forms- bare root tubers or already growing in a pot (potted).

To Pot or Not To Pot  How you choose to pot or plant your lily depends upon where they will be grown.  For a pre-formed pond, patio pot / whiskey barrel, or ponds with out rocks inside of it, you probably want to plant your lily into a container.  If you have more of a natural pond with rocks and gravel you may choose to plant your water lily directly into the gravel without a pot.  Remember that the roots are what is absorbing the nutrients in the pond so keeping them in pots doesn’t really do them justice, but the choice is yours.

Planting  Bare Root Water Lilies

  1. Use a container with holes, like this planting basket. There are also fabric pots or you can use a black nursery pot. Bare root water lilies may shock a bit after planting, don’t worry, they will come back when the weather warms.
  2. Place soil-either a sandy loam mix, topsoil or aquatic planting mix (my least favorite, it can float and looks like kitty litter).  Place a couple of fertilizer tablets in the corners of the pot.  Make a slight mound and gently place tuber on top, spreading the roots out.  If you have fish you may not need to fertilize your lilies, they may feed your plants enough for adequate blooms.
  3. Cover the roots and tuber with soil and top dress with gravel.  Do not completely cover the crown (top) of the tuber.  Keep leaf stems exposed and any small indicator leaves (these are important, they tell the lily when to growing, only prune these if they are damaged)
  4. Water thoroughly, allow debris to drain before putting into the pond. Submerge the pot to a water depth of 1′ – 2.5’/3′. Plants can also be planted directly into the gravel- wash off soil from roots and then plant.

If you have any any questions please email at:

thepondpad@gmail.com  and see my other blog on Water Lily Care.  You can also stop by and see me at The Pond Pad at Alpine Nursery (253) 332-2158.

Kerri Bailey, owner of The Pond Pad, has been working with Aquatic Plants since 1989 and has worked in the horticulture & pond industry since 1998.  She has a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist.




When to Clean Your Pond

by Kerri Bailey, The Pond Pad

It’s that time of the year again, when our ponds wake up from the warmth of spring with active fish and budding plants. Now is a great time to take a look and decide what condition your pond is in & what you need to do about it.

Your pond or water feature needs to be cleaned when:

  • There is an inch or more of sludge build up on the bottom and shelves.
  • Excessive algae blooms and filamentous(string) algae problems.
  • Your water is turbid, cloudy and mucky or slimy looking.
  • It’s been more than 3 years since the last complete clean-out.

How often you clean your pond:

  • Typically once a year, or every 2-3 years depending upon your fish load & filtration – heavier the fish load (yearly), smaller fish load & better  filtration (2-3 years).
  • There are always exceptions, healthy water = healthy fish & plants.  Using beneficial bacteria products like Autumn Leaves Digester by Strata, will help maintain the balance by digesting the fish waste & debris that accumulate over time.  Having a veggie filter, bog garden or just a lot of plant coverage will also enhance water quality.  Most algae blooms are a result of excess pond waste, so decrease your waste, decreases the algae.

When to clean your pond:

  • Water features, ponds, etc. with no fish- clean just about anytime of the year.  If there are plants, protect them from the hot sun or cold winds.
  • Typically, ponds with fish, are cleaned in late spring through early to mid summer, weather dependent (around 60 – 80 deg F). Avoid cold days, extremely hot days or when fish are dormant. Fish can die from stress, so be careful with them!

To learn more about cleaning your pond, see my blog on How to Clean your Pond  and attend one of my classes at The Pond Pad on Sat. April 7th and April 14th at 10am or Sun. April 8th and April 15th at 11am.   www.alpinegrows.com/pages/pondpad.asp

Kerri Bailey is the owner of The Pond Pad water garden store located inside of Alpine Nursery in Puyallup, WA.  Kerri has been working with aquatic plants and herbs since 1989 and has been in the horticulture and water garden industry since 1998.  She holds a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist.





How to Clean Your Pond




What supplies you need to clean your pond:

  1. A Pump with pipe to evacuate (remove) the pond water
  2. A Skimmer net to filter debris
  3. Hose, running water and a strong nozzle (pressure wash with caution)
  4. Scrub brush and /or scrub pads
  5. An algaecide like Quick Fix (or several bottles of peroxide)
  6. Container for fish with a cover (net) and aeration (pump or air stone)
  7. Fish nets and/or tubs to remove fish from pond water
  8. Rubber boots (shoes) and gloves are optional (I usually don’t wear gloves)
  9. Beneficial bacteria, plant fertilizer tablets, water conditioner

Step One:  Turn off all pumps, filters, etc.  Place your clean out pump in the deepest part of your pond; plug it in and start to remove the pond water (drain into a garden or lawn area).  If you have fish, they need to be removed and kept in a tub or large container (keep out of direct sun) .  Fill it 2/3 with the pond water you are removing, before pond is empty. Continue to drain the pond,  leave little water, just enough to catch your fish. Clean filter pads while you wait.

Step Two: Catch your fish, carefully!  Use a  net to catch small fish and place them in the container with pond water. Larger fish should be caught with a tub or fish bag / sock as they can flop around inside of nets and could be injured.    Keep the water with the fish aerated with a small pump or air stone and cover with a net- koi love to jump.  Check your fish often for signs of stress. Treat any fish that may be “sick” or have parasites with an appropriate medication.

Step Three: Remove any potted plants and any plants that need to be divided.  Store them in tub with water away from the direct sun.  Cut back any plants that remain in the pond and any other maintenance that needs to be done-clean skimmer and debris net/basket. Divide plants and re-pot those that are pot bound.


Step Four:  Use your hose and a strong stream of water and spray down the stream and waterfall area, washing the debris into the pond.  Continue to remove the water with your pump.  Then work your way to the pond and spray down the side walls and shelves.  This may take up  a while- hours for a large pond. Sprinkle some Quick Fix powder on the falls and any other area where there is an algae or green build up.

Use your skimmer net to scoop out debris, leaves and muck.  Use your scrub brush to remove scum from rocks. When the water your pump out is almost clear, then you can stop “cleaning” and start to fill back up again.  You don’t have to get rid of every speck and have sparkling clean rocks.  The brown film on the rocks is beneficial bacteria and is a good thing.  If you remove it all, then you may have “green” water in the summer.  it takes time for the bacterial colonies to grow keeping the pond balanced.

Step Five:  Put your pond plants back into the pond, fertilize any that may need it- water lilies are heavy feeders.  Now is the time to fix any rocks or rearrange as needed.  Remove clean out pump and start to fill your pond.  This may take several hours.  Put the clean filter pads and filter media back in the filter; put debris net/basket back in the skimmer. Once the water is half to 3/4 full, add water conditioner (unless you have untreated well water) and beneficial bacteria.

Step Six:  Time to put your fish back into the pond, very carefully…..releasing them gingerly. Continue to fill the pond with water until it is at it’s normal level. Your fish may hide for a few days and may not want to be fed right away.  Monitor them closely for the next several days.  Add beneficial bacteria like Organic Digester by Strata on a regular basis to help keep your ecosystem clean, clear and healthy.  Enjoy!

If you want to learn more about cleaning ponds, see my blog on When to Clean Your Pond. We also provide pond cleaning services, call for a bid in the greater Tacoma area.

Kerri Bailey is the owner of The Pond Pad water garden online store and maintenance service.   Kerri has been working with aquatic plants and herbs since 1989 and has been in the horticulture and water garden industry since 1998.  She holds a BS in Biology and is a Certified Herbalist.