How To Drain A Pond (Small & Large Both)

A college friend of mine bought an old house with a small pond (7 by 4 feet, bean-shaped) in the garden. By looking at the pond, you can say it had been a long-forgotten one, and the pump has waned. There were tons of rotten leaves, icky muck, and the water stinks like something has been dead in there for a long time.

He tried to clean it by himself, searched on the internet, read a few blogs, and saw some videos. But he wasn’t sure what to do (actually, he didn’t want to do it alone).

He asked me to help him get it back up and running since I had few experiences and have several ponds (though they are much bigger than this one).

Today I will talk about how we drain that pond and get back running like a fresh one.

Also, will share some related queries like- how to drain a pond (whether it’s a big or small pond); if you really need to drain a pond or change some water instead, what are different alternative methods you have for draining a pond.

Well, let’s start our main discussion. Don’t get confused by the subheadings. For the sake of writing, I tried to put myself in your situation and decided what and how to do it. Just keep reading; hope I would be able to answer all the queries regarding pond draining.

If you don’t find your answer in the article, please leave a comment about your situation, query, or problem; I will try my best to give you the right information.

Do I need to Drain that Pond?

Before going to my friend’s house, I didn’t saw that pond before (I forgot to take pictures of our work; I never thought I would be putting an article about this. So, all the images I shared here are sourced from the online with some similarity in it).

Just looking at it, I knew there’s no other way for me except draining that pond. As I mentioned earlier, lots of different waste and sludge occupied the bottom, and the water was deep green and covered by green algae; and the foul smell, a fish, was out of the question.

So, there was no alternative to draining the water.

With that being said, what do you have to do?

Before deciding on draining your pond, you need to ensure there are no other ways to recover your pond. As you may know, a mature pond has a complex and vast ecosystem. Containing a wide range of different life forms like insects, plants, microorganisms, and necessary bacteria.

Draining water removes all these essential elements from the pond, and the ecosystem balance could destroy. If you have fish in your pond, draining the pond should be a last resort.

Even partial water change requires some time to balance the pond water ecosystem. As outside water doesn’t have the natural bacteria and organisms, your pond fish could die from that drastic change.

So, you shouldn’t change the pond water?

Yes, of course, you should. But have to do it gradually, provide regular maintenance, and always keep track of water quality.

However, when you should drain a pond?

Since I am continuously talking about pond draining’s negative effects, then when should you drain the pond? Or you should never?

No, there is no rule written on rocks that you can’t drain your pond. I am just making sure you understand the depth of importance, and you shouldn’t perform it unless it’s necessary.

Then, why drain a pond? Or, reasons for draining-

  1. Repairing or Changing your pond liner. Or, you may need to reseal your pond liner.
  2. If you are renovating and changing the pond structure and decorations, you need to drain the water out.
  3. Catching fish to check health or injury (mostly for larger ponds)
  4. Moving your fish to another place like transferring them inside during the winter.
  5. To obtain sediments from the pond bottom to fertilize farmland.
  6. Obviously, when your pond has been abandoned for long, the situation like my friend or the water became harmful for living fish.

Well, we did lots of related talking, but couldn’t start our work yet. Let’s hop into that part.

How to Drain a Pond

The first thing you will face after deciding to drain. Now, how you do it? There are many ways you can perform pond draining. But before talking about all those methods, let me share what I did with my friend.

Where to drain pond water?

The next thing I faced was where to drain the water from the pond? you just can’t through it anywhere.

Here’s a suggestion for you-

If your pond water is comparatively clear, you can use this water in your garden; pond water packed full of nutrients and beneficial microorganisms, making it excellent natural fertilizer healthy for plants. So, rather than just releasing the water into a drain, you should throw the water into your garden.

If you don’t have a garden, you can use this water on any plants or just on your lawn.

However, what I did?

Since my friend’s pond water nowhere near in a reusable situation, I decided to let it go into the drain.

But before releasing the water into a drain, I had to clear things up a bit. The drain was a little far from the pond, so we have to use a pump or something to transfer the water. With all those algae sludge, icky muck, and rotten leaves in the water can disrupt the water flow.

How to clean sludge and debris from a pond?

We managed a bucket, old fishing net, and rake to remove debris, sludge, and rotten leaves. Used rake and old fishing net to collect the floating loose waste materials from the pond. We used the bucket to transfer them.

How do we drain the pond water?

After removing rotten leaves, debris, and loose algae, the water looked transferrable through a pipe. To make it more dilute, we added some freshwater into the pond.

We installed a small electric motor (external pump) since the pond was small. When you also use an electric motor, remember not to put the sucking pipe at the very bottom. Keep it little above the pond bottom; otherwise, the tube will start sucking up sludge, debris, and other waste materials.

Whenever the water level starts to reach the bottom, we must be careful that the sucking pipe doesn’t run without water.

To clear the pond walls and bottom, we added spray water into the pond by a garden hose. So, loose sludge and other debris fall from the pond’s sidewall. Then again, we run the motor to remove the remaining water from the pond.

We did this process 2 times; you do just according to your pond’s condition.

After that, we used a bowl to remove the sludge and other remaining waste materials from the pond.

Here’s another tip for you-

This sludge is full of nutrients, which will be great for your garden plants. So, you can use them as a natural fertilizer. Then we cleared the pond’s bottom.

How to refill pond water?

If you are planning to put fish into your pond, you must ensure the water quality just like when you changing aquarium water, but in a larger context. You have to do it, whether it’s a partial water change or full drainage.

As my friend had the plan to put some Japanese koi and goldfish into his pond, we have to prepare the water accordingly. Mains water has high amounts of chlorine and chloramine, which is harmful to fish and other necessary bacteria. We dechlorinated the water using a water conditioner and added some beneficial bacteria (which you can purchase from the local aquarium store).

 Those water supplements will help the natural bacteria to kick start the biological filtration. We performed a water quality test to check the ammonia, pH, KH, and nitrites levels are as our expected condition. Then, we add the water into the pond.

We have waited around one week before releasing fish into the pond. During this time, my friend added some plants into it and checked the water quality regularly. After that, he put some fish into the pond, and they are doing now.

What are the different alternative methods for draining a pond easily?

There isn’t a single way solution for the question- how to drain a pond. There are other alternative methods you can follow to the job. Now, let’s talk about that-

  1. Manual Draining (Labor-intensive)
  2. Using a Submersible pump
  3. Using an External/ electric motor pump.
  4. Using a pond vacuum
  5. Using a hand pump
  6. Solar Pump
  7. Using a Siphon Hose/Hose Pipe

1.  Manual Draining (labour Intensive and for Small Pond)

My favourite method for draining a pond, though most people won’t agree with me; well, isn’t for a large pond. For Small or small-medium sized pond, you can follow this manual method.

What you will need?

  • A pair of gumboots (not mandatory)
  • A bucket or bowl type something.
  • An old set of cloth (or something easily washable)

Yes, that’s all you will need. Now how to drain a pond without pump or something like this?

Put on the boots and clothes, take your bowl or bucket, and you’re ready to go. Get down in the pond, take your position by spreading the legs a little. Now, bend down a bit to reach the water with the bucket; fill the bucket with the water, and throw it outside.

That’s it!! Keep going until all the water has gone.

This method isn’t viable if your pond has high depth or has huge water in it (otherwise, your garden area will be flooded with the pond water); or has waste materials in it.

But for me, it’s fun doing this way. For a medium-sized pond, I follow this method. Sometimes it took several days; I drain the water until got tired. Then, I start from where I left off. For a mud pond, dripping the water from the bottom could increase the water.

2. Using a Submersible pump


For small-large ponds, you can use a submersible pump to drain your pond.

What is the fastest and easiest way to drain a pond or water? And, how to drain a large pond?

Using a submersible is the fastest and easiest way to drain a large pond or for water transfer.

How to drain a pond with a pump (Submersible)?

  1. Put the out-take hose into the garden or a drain (wherever you want to drain the water)
  2. Place the pump at the deepest possible position in the pond for maximum water takeout from one sitting. If your pond is too deep, you will need a powerful pump to lift the water to the desired area from the pond’s bottom. Pond pumps will have mentioned maximum “head heights” on the manual, which indicates the highest height the pump can lift the water before starting to lose its power. So, the higher the “head height” value, the deeper you can place the pump into the pond.
  1. Now, connect the power source and observe.

Having a submersible pump always simpler and easier for water draining or transfer. So, even you may need some investment to have one (if you don’t own one already), but it’ll worth your money according to how often you use it.

3. Using an External/ electric motor pump.

An external pond pump or an electric pump is a good alternative to the submersible. Depending on the installation method, it could get a little tricker. If your pump is below the waterline with a fixed intake, a deeper part from the intake height will be problematic.

You have to purchase some extra hose extension to reach the lower part and adjust with the current one if you don’t want to buy a total new hose.

How you use an external pump for draining a pond?

Follow the above guidelines for the submersible pump. The process and method are similar. You have to adjust to your situation.

4. Using a pond vacuum

Using a pond vacuum is a traditional method, and hard to drain a pond with it. But it’s very effective to clean pond water and control pond algae. You can use a pond vacuum to drain the pond if you have a good drainage system.

Cheaper pond vacuum doesn’t have a good water discharge system. It will be difficult to perform pond draining with cheaper ones, as they don’t have the automatic discharge system and need to be turned off to discharge the water.

How to use a pond vacuum to drain a pond?

  1. Connect all the parts of the vacuum.
  2. Connect the discharge system with a hose to the water releasing area.
  3. Take a bucket or something to put the sludge, debris, and other waste materials sucked up into pond vacuum.
  4. Adjust the extended cord according to your need.
  5. Now, slowly move the suction hose around your pond.
  6. Take a break after sometimes, and to check the internal reservoir or outer bucket or tank didn’t get filled.
  7. Then, continue the process until you sucked up all the water from the pond.

If you have a bigger pond or have high depth pond, keep holding the suction hose could be tiring work. So, you can set up the suction hose like you don’t have to hold it all the time. Use something to hold the suction to a selected place, then adjust the hose according to the water level and keep observing.

5. Using a hand pump

An old-fashioned pond draining system is using a hand pump. It needs manual labour like in our first method.

Why should you use a hand pump to drain the water? And, how to drain a small pond?

First of all, it’s a cost-effective method and the right choice for a small pond. Pond pump’s water flow rate is around 5-10 gallons per minute.

With that being said, if you have 1000 gallons water in your pond, you will need around 100-200 minutes (about 2-3 hours) to drain the water. Now calculate your time if you’re planning to use a hand pump for pond draining.

How to use a hand pump to drain a pond?

  1. Set the outer pipe at the desired water release point.
  2. Now, put the pump into the water. However, if you don’t want to put the pump into the water, connect some extra hose or PVC pipe to reach the water suction area.
  3. Then, start pumping until all the water has gone.

Simple but hard-working like the first one. To me, this’s another method I love to use for my smaller ponds.

6. Solar Power Pump (Slow Drainage)

If you have a smaller pond and don’t want to spend too much money on a new pump, there’s another option for you -a solar-powered pump. Also, it’s a slow drainage system if you’re not in a hurry.

It’s a good choice during the summer and for small pond owners, also if you don’t want to deal with the electricity, this’s the right choice for you.

As you may know, most of the solar pumps are designed to use in a fountain, so they do have some water-lifting power. For the best output, you should look for a pump with 200-500 GPH (Flow rate). Higher the GPH, the stronger the pump is.

For the remote location, a solar-powered pump is the best option for you as the electricity may be difficult to reach there.

Most solar pumps come with necessary equipment with it, even though you may consider buying some extra hose for further extension. And don’t try to drain a large pond with it; it’ll take forever to drain the whole pond.

7. Using a Siphon Hose/Hose Pipe

There’s another way you can drain your pond water without using a pump.

How to drain pond water without a pump?

Things you will need to perform water draining from the pond:

  • Spigot
  • Hosepipe (enough length for your work)
  • A Siphon or Garden Hose

How you can perform the pond draining with these tools-

  1. Connect a spigot with your garden hose. Confirm that your garden can extend from the pond area to the water release point.
  2. Connect nozzle to another side of the hose
  3. Now fill the hose by activating the spigot. Make sure water is filled the total length of your hose.
  4. Turned off the spigot and confirm your nozzle isn’t releasing any water.
  5. Now, remove the spigot and hold the hose in a position; water wouldn’t come out.
  6. Use one hand to block the water from coming out from the hose
  7. Use the other hand, to put the nozzle’s part at your water release point.
  8. And put the open side of the hose deep inside the pond.
  9. Use something to hold the hose into the pond and not falling out from it. You can use a brick or something with weight to keep the hose as it is.
  10. Then, take your nozzle’s part at the lowest possible area into the water release point and remove the nozzle.

That’s it! Just keep the adjustment as the water coming down into the pond, as the water pressure will decrease subsequently.

How else can you perform pond draining without a pump?

There’s another way to do the draining. Just like the previous one, but you wouldn’t need any tools except a small hose.

However, you can only perform this method if your pond is located slightly above the ground, and releasing water beside the pond won’t be a problem for you.

Take a small hose, dipped both sides of the hose into the water. Wait until the hose becomes filled with the water. Then, block both sides with hand. Give some shaking to make sure the water is filled.

Now, slowly put one side of the deep water and release the other one outside the pond. The water will start flow through the hose.

So, why did I mention those 10 steps for you?

 If you need to transfer the water at a long distance, that means the water release point is far from your pond, but you can follow this method only with a small hose. A big hose won’t fill by dipping into the water.

Winding Up

As I told you initially, draining your pond isn’t a difficult task or something you need to be worried about. This’s just as simple as it is. Follow the best suits for your condition.

Our article- “how to drain a pond,” we mentioned several methods for your convenience. Still, they couldn’t work for your situation, or you couldn’t get a hold of it, and not sure what to do exactly or where to start.

Just leave a comment mentioning your pond situation, we’ll provide the best possible option for you. Although I am not sure how much it could help. But even if I could be a little help to you or your pond, that’s enough for me.

So, until next time. See you later, guys.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *