Remove plants from the pond to make it easier to remove the leaves.

How to Clean Dead Leaf Buildup Out of a Pond

by Amelia Allonsy

A pond or water feature adds serenity to an outdoor space and, when coupled with a trickling waterfall, can help tune out traffic and other neighborhood noises. Ponds do need regular maintenance to keep them clean and free of leaves and other debris. It seems that even without deciduous trees in the yard, fallen leaves will travel miles just for the opportunity to fall in your pond. A sturdy net is all you need to clean the leaves from the pond, but you can also use a shop vacuum to pick up smaller leaf fragments.

Pull all water plants out of the pond and put them in buckets of water while you clean the dead leaves from the pond. This might not be possible, but in most cases, water plants are kept in pots submerged underwater that you can simply lift out of the pond so the foliage doesn't restrict access to the leaves. Remove fish from the pond, if applicable, so you don't have to constantly pick them out from among the dead leaves.

Pick up large clumps of leaves with your hands and put the leaves in your compost or in yard waste bins or bags. Wear long rubber gloves while picking up the leaves. You might only wish to try this method if you have a shallow garden pond in which you can see the bottom.

Scoop the leaves out of the pond, using a pond skimmer net attached to a pole. Sweep the net along the bottom of the pond to collect as many leaves as possible. Hold the net over the pond until most of the water drains from the wet leaves.

Vacuum along the bottom and sides of the pool with a shop vac or specialty pond vacuum to remove small leaf debris and muck. Wait about 30 minutes for the debris to settle on the bottom before vacuuming because your hands and net stir up the leaves. A pond vacuum requires a pump to pick up water and leaves.

Items you will need

  • Buckets
  • Rubber gloves
  • Lawn and leaf garbage bags (optional)
  • Net
  • Shop vacuum or pond vacuum


  • Instead of cleaning out dead leaves every year, cover your pond with a large net in early fall before leaves begin dropping from the trees. The leaves fall and stay on top of the net so all you have to do is remove the net to discard the leaves.

About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images