Seasonal Information for 2000

The Seasonal Information page has gotten rather large now runs for approximately six months at a time.  If you want to go back to earlier Seasonal pages, go here. These topics will change from month to month as we encounter things we find interesting. Hopefully, what interest us will interest you.  We update this page at least every three weeks or as needed.  Not all the subjects listed below are updated every time we post.

Shade Trees Canker Worms Landscaping Ponds Irrigation Night Lighting


new1.gif (332 bytes) Emergency phone numbers ... If you are local and want to get in touch with us here is a list of our regular numbers plus emergency phones. 704-332-4628, 704-332-9812, 704-201-0811

In 2000, we plan to use hot links more.  Every department does not experience a noteworthy change each month.  For example an ice storm might affect trees and shrubs but would not have much if any impact on an irrigation system that is closed and serviced for the winter.

Look for links that will take you to the section you are interested in, and use your back arrow key to return to this page.

Hit Counter  as of 1-1-99 


December 13, 2000

More on the absciss-layer

I mentioned my theory on why our leaves are staying on so much longer this year to Jim Monroe who is a horticulturist with the county.  He said he used to work with cotton treatment and what they were trying to do was encourage the leaves to drop.  This would create a cleaner cotton with less trash in it.  They found that if certain chemical were used, the leaves would turn black and just stay of the plants.  He stated that the forming of the absciss-layer was a very slow process and could not be interrupted with cotton.  Since I have observed many shade trees and under story trees also, it is obvious that different trees respond differently to the effects of a sudden cold snap. 

December 10, 2000

Usually, the leaves fall from all the trees around here by Thanksgiving time.  This year there are still many leaves in the trees of many different species.  The willow oak is the most common tree we have, and some of them have dropped all their leaves, and others still have lots in them.  In some cases they are crisp and dark brown.  Yesterday I saw a dogwood that had retained all its leaves and they looked like they had been frozen on the twigs.

We have been applying Tanglefoot to trap fall cankerworms here for years and usually get it up by the first of December.  Reason being that we do not want leaves getting in the sticky Tanglefoot.  This year the city has not given us the go-ahead because of the number of leaves still hanging on.

I have a theory.  We had a severe very early cold snap, and I believe it hampered the natural dropping of the leaves.  I equate it to a lightning struck tree.  Such a tree will hold its leaves on for a long time after it is struck..   The natural process of the leaf dropping is when the abscission scar *** slowly dries up, and the slightest wind will cause it to fall.  When there is a sudden death of the leaf, the scar does not develop naturally, and I think (my unscientific opinion) that is why the leaf is staying on. 

***  I looked this one up in a very old dictionary and found the term absciss-layerA zone of tissue forming the layer of separation.  In Botany  The natural separation of parts by disorganiszation of the absciss-layer.

October 7, 2000

As I look at the willow oaks today, there is a lot of sunshine and it is very easy to spot limbs that are weak.  The leaves are thin on the weak branches and in many cases have turned brown.  Otherwise the leaves are still very green.  One can expect that such a limb that is already turning with leaves dropping off will not live another year.  So if you are pruning it is wise to go ahead and remove such a limb now rather than have to come back a year later.

Another reason is that what energy is stored in the tree will be wasted trying to keep a weak limb alive, it is better to cut it off and let that energy go toward placing callous over the wound.

September 17, 2000

Every year the subject of lawn renovation comes up as it should.  Refer to this earlier document that is still true today. Lawn Install

September 16, 2000

Well we finally got the web page back up.  We changed servers and have been off line for a few days.  We also have been unable to edit for a week or two.  Glad to be back.

September 16, 2000

It is time to plant your lawn now.  If you have irrigation and lots of trees do so.  If you do not have trees and do not expect a lot of leaves to fall on your newly planted lawn, then you can wait.

What happens is that the seed needs to stay moist for about ten days.  Do not let it dry out.  As the leaves start falling a little later in the season, they will be less likely to choke out the grass.

September 4, 2000

Lately, it has been pretty muggy and hot.  A cold front is on the way, and we all look forward to that.  Unlike the rest of the country we have had a pretty decent summer.  Everything is lush and green.  In fact we are seeing a lot of tree damage from heavy fruit loads and wind storms.  Now while the leaf is still on the trees, it is a good time to have someone come out and look at the trees for limb and structural problems.  Also, it is easy to spot weak trees now because they tend to drop their leaves early.  704-332-4628  or Send E-Mail to arbormaster    

back to the top

July 28, 2000

The comments below refer to the volunteer peach trees that grew between our pond and the garden.  Now the peaches are ripe and I will tell you what has happened. The two trees grew up close to each other and last year provided a nice shade over a bench. This spring as noted below they were both loaded with blooms, and I have learned that peaches need to be thinned on the branches.  One of the trees had a slightly obround fruit when it was small and the other one which is closer to pond seemed to have a larger fruit.

Branches are low on both trees so thinning was pretty easy although the tree farthest from the pond was not thinned as much and lost a big limb due to heavy fruit load.  Other than that mishap, the one tree is sweet with a little tartness and is a "cling" type.  The tree closest to the pond is a "free stone" and taste great although the fruit is still pretty small.  This year has been a bumper crop in the southeast and I understand that the farmers are only picking 20% of their crops.  My peaches are not as pretty as the ones you buy but some are surprisingly large and nice.  I also have some bugs and too much pond water on the garden so many have cracked the skin.  All in all the peaches turned out better than I expected.  It goes to show that just because something volunteers does not mean that it will not be good. 

May 1, 2000

back to the top

The Koi Peach Trees

I have learned something through observation that I will share with you.  It concerns trees in that it deals with some peach trees which were given to me about 10 years ago.  There were three of them, and they came from Stark Brothers Nursery.  I had them planted in a row down at the bottom of the garden behind our office.  

Well in 1994 or thereabouts, we decided to place a koi pond in the same area adjacent to these three peach trees.  Unfortunately, the overflow from the pond keeps that area very wet, and one peach tree is gone, and the other two are not far behind.  The peaches have been excellent but they do get some bugs and can not be sprayed because of the koi pond so I have just given up on them.  I also allowed them grow too tall, and it is hard to pick the peaches, and as I have learned, it is necessary to thin the peaches so that the ones that remain get large.

As the years have evolved, the peaches developed and would very frequently drop into the pond.  The koi liked to eat them and the bigger koi will push a ripe peach around much like water polo players, and its fun to watch their antics.  Eventually the peach pits (seeds) end up on the bottom of the pond, and I would use a net to scoop them out.  The net is made from an old pole saw handle, and I would fling the pits over my shoulder into the garden.  I did not think much about it, and one year noticed two large weedy plants directly behind the bench at the edge of the garden and koi pond. 

Quickly, I realized that they were peach tree volunteers, and since a lot of pond water ends up in the same general vicinity, the trees have grow fast and well.  In the spring of the year 2000 they were both loaded with peach blossoms and later with hundreds of small peaches.  I had left the plants very low to provide shade to the bench, and I have thinned out the peaches about four to six inches apart.  One tree has an ob-round fruit at this point, and the other has much larger peaches that are about the size of a fifty cent piece at this time.

We all know that many plants do not breed true to their parent so I still do not know what I will get in the way of good peaches.  Still it is an interesting situation, and I will be very curious to taste them in a month or so.  This process has taken about ten years from start to production, and I certainly did not plan it.  But isn't Mother Nature interesting. jmm 5-1-00

back to the top

April 4, 2000

Every year I wonder where we are in the spring as compared to last year or the year before.  Below are a few things happening right now which gives us an idea as to what will happen next year also.

Trees flower about 3 to 4 weeks earlier here in Charlotte, then they do up north in areas such as Rochester New York.  Washington is about 3 weeks behind.

To day the boxwood leaf miner came out.  I have seen the little orange fly emerge as early as the last day of March and as late as the 15th of April.  Most azaleas are in full bloom or will be in a day or three.  Daffodils are mostly gone, only the latest varieties are still hanging around.

Willow oaks in full leaf although some of the young trees in cooler areas only are partially out.  The tassels of the willow oak are falling but have not reached their peak.  They are a real mess and pollen from the oaks and pines will coat everything soon.

Sweet gum pollen will turn ponds dark coffee color.  We actually spray them in a soon to keep the sweetgum balls from forming.  This works well if you are interested.  It beats cutting down the trees and the balls are really a pain.

I will continue to post as plants come into leaf.

March 5, 2000

back to the top

It looks like spring is really here.  The Bradford pears are about to bloom, daffodils are in full bloom and the forsythia has been out in full for about three days.  Generally, time to do things to the lawn and clean up those trees.  It seems there is a lot more deadwood around this spring due to the two ice storms here.  Lots of small limbs and twigs are hiding in the shrubbery and many trees have obvious dead wood.  Since the grass will be tender pruning trees is good to do because you will not scuff the lawn whereas if you have to wait a month, then just dragging limbs through the yard might do some damage to tender grass.  On the other hand, in a few weeks the new grass will fill in bare spots pretty quickly.

back to the top

February 28, 2000

Just had to post something on the last day of February.... well it is a leap year and there is one more day.  Maybe I will post something tomorrow.  

We are getting flooded with phone calls.  I do not recall that it has been like this in years past.  I hope we will be able to keep up.   Which reminds me that we have a pretty slick client management program that stores all our job tickets for any type of repeat work, such as the lawncare program, or the shrubbery insect control program that will have repeat applications during the year.  Every Friday Susan hits a few buttons and all the work for the next week pops up.  That should make it a lot easier to handle our repeat services.

As far as trees are concerned, we will probably get some ice or wind about the time things get into full bloom.  On the big picture, spring is here and we are off to a roaring start.  If you need help or things do go the way you think they should give us a call and talk to me directly.  jack mcneary  332-4628

back to the top

February 17, 2000

Ok we had 65 degrees two days ago and 70 yesterday.  I believe today will be equally as warm.  So spring is around the corner.  Of course a few years ago we had snow and lots of ice on March 3rd.

We are getting lots of calls since everyone is out checking out the landscape and trees.

back to the top

February 8, 2000

My prediction of one spring-like week during the month of February might be this one.  Starting today it is supposed to get to 60 degrees.  The trees are a little behind in putting on flowering buds.  Usually we see the red maples in full bloom and I have seen daffodils up and flowering.  We have lots of deadwood that dropped from trees during the recent snow and ice storm.  Our area right here in Charlotte got by pretty well and we have had lots of calls from the surrounding areas 5 to 10 miles from Charlotte.

Spring will be here soon.

back to the top

January 25, 2000

Wow!!  We have not had a decent snow for a few years and this year it came with a vengeance.  Charlotte proper got about 6 inches, less as one moved north and much more as one went south.  I live close to the center of town, and we got about 6 inches and a little ice damage.  Five miles south 12 inches of snow and some folks with out electricity last night at 8:00 (Monday) with prospects of getting it back on by Friday.

To the east the storm dumped an unheard of 18" on Raleigh NC and pines snapped everywhere in Pinehurst NC which had 12" of snow.  Atlanta had a major ice storm on Saturday and parts of North Carolina had lots of ice damage.  

Concerning tree work, we had some calls for mostly small stuff, but we have seen major trees down in Matthews NC about 10 miles down the road.  Certainly, our backlog has increased but storm damage is not what keeps us in business.  If you had lots of small deadwood fall out of your trees than they probably need to be cleaned out.

Check for branches that need cabling and realize that cables last about 10 years before they need inspection and up fitting.  Again see details on Cabling.

back to the top

January 13, 2000

It has been unseasonably warm here for January.  I understand a cold front is on the way this afternoon with 70 mile an hour gust.  74 is hurricane force so we will likely have some tree damage.  Winter time is a good time to look at the trees and see signs of weakness that might indicate cables are necessary.  Call us if that concerns you, but if you want to look for yourself, check out the forks for included bark and possible splits.

For more details go to our article on Cabling and Bracing

 back to the top

January 8, 2000

Every year when the leaves are off the trees, we hear about and notice ourselves trees that have been topped. Much has been written about the subject and it is a timely subject.  See our article on topping 

We have just sent out our information to our existing clients about services for the coming season.  These are repeat services that are done yearly and deal with shrub insect control and fertilizing and lawn care.  Most tree issues are done on two or three year cycles and we usually contact clients individually. If you have questions contact our office bye email or call us a 704-332-4628.

back to the top

Cankerworms 2000

April 7, 2000

I have seen a few fall cankerworms in the last few days but nothing like years past. I had a total of 110 cankerworms in the band on my test tree this year and there were days in the past when I would capture 100 per day.

The city's spray job in 1999 did the trick at least in this neighborhood.  I see no major defoliation.  As we see the extend of the damage this year we will report it here.

back to the top

January 1, 2000

One of the issues that is both interesting and unique to Charlotte is the cankerworm problem that we have had since about 1989.  In September of that year Hurricane Hugo hit and IMO (in my opinion) that is when the cankerworm problems started in a big way.  One could drive up Selwyn Avenue and see willow oaks in the early spring totally defoliated with glistening spider-web like threads throughout the entire crown of the tree.

Since that time with the city spraying particularly in April of 1999, the severity of the cankerworm attacks has dropped a great deal.  Rather than rewrite the entire episode, let me refer you to these articles.

A report on the status of cankerworm for the 2000 season.   

Cankerworms in 1997

Cankerworms in 1998 ... reference 1998 Seasonal Information Page 

back to the top

Ponds & Watergardens

November 25, 2000

We have been offline for almost a month.  A couple of months ago, went belly-up and we had to move the site.  It was a hassle and I transferred it over to where I had this site plus three other nonprofit sites located.  USiWay threw in the towel with about three days notice.  Fortunately, I had a pretty good backup of the entire site but it has taken this long to get things back up and running.  Had we been totally dependent on the Internet for our business we would have done it sooner, but other things took priority.

October 22, 2000

Its about the end of another season.  The leaves are falling, koi are eating less, but koi are still very active.  Daytime temperatures are in the mid 70's and it is really beautiful.  I sat today looking at the fish in the main pond and they are especially beautiful two times a day.  About 11:00 the sun hits the pond and fish so that their colors are really sparking.  Late in the afternoon as the sun is at a nice angle, they are also very spectacular and also very restful.

I have thinned out the main pond so that only the best fish are in it with a number that are Tategoi, and I just want to see what they will turn into in a year or two.  The extra fish are in the second pond which is 30 by 4 feet.  These guys do grow and eat so we have lots of nice pond fish for sale to locals.  We specialize in butterfly koi and have lots of them now in various sizes and colors.

If you are local and want to visit, please call 704-332-4628 to make sure I am here to show you around.  Also, I can tell you what we have.  We are not a walk in office, but I always like to show off the fish.  These fish will be fine till spring and the I really will have to sell some off.  They eat a lot and keep on growin....

In this climate, you can move fish into your pond most anytime.  Rapid change in temperature is not good so if you come to get fish in the cooler months, do not plan to leave the fish in your car for any length of time and allow them to heat up.  The best way to transport a few fish would be in a cardboard box to stabilize the bag and possibly insulate it with some Styrofoam.  We have fish bags and Oxygen if necessary, but come prepared.

Remember, most of my fish (certainly the better ones) are pets and not for sale, but since we install ponds, most of the people we meet in that regard are newcomers to koi keeping.  We grow the fish mostly to stock the ponds we install, but there are always a lot left over.  We also bred some nice butterfly koi this year and purchase them occasionally from some nearby koi breeders.  

September 25, 2000

Professionally, I am a consulting arborists which means I am supposed to know something about plants and trees in particular.  Well I do know a little, and therefore I have always been extremely interested in plants that are hazardous to our heath but also as to what plants or plant parts are poisonous to our fish.

An interesting and tragic episode happened this past Saturday which I will relate.

Two of use were expecting to have some people come to purchase some fish from us, and we had separated most of the show quality koi from the others.  We moved some nice pond quality koi and many butterfly koi to the new 4 foot by 30 foot container we had built over the past few months.  Since these building projects always seem to take a long time to complete, this one does not have its filtering set up yet, but at the end of the long pond is a 300 gallon container which we will use for a biofilter.

Now it so happens that the 300 gallon container is directly under the outermost limbs of a pecan tree and the squirrels have been having a wonderful time eating the bumper crop of pecans.  Unlike much of he rest of the country, we have had a very moist summer and the nut crops are going to be big.  The open container has lots of pecan husk and partially eaten nuts in it.  The container was clean on Friday, but we had a heavy rain on Friday night and early Saturday morning.  On Saturday morning there was about 4 inches of water in the container along with all the nut debris.

Some of the fish we removed from the major pond had been promised to a client for their new pond, and we decided to move the fish to an empty container.  Since this tank was close at hand and unused I scooped out much of the pecan residue and filled the tank with about 100 gallons of water.

Five rather nice fish were placed in the container with an air stone and covered to keep more debris from dropping into the container.  I came back about 20 minutes later and saw the largest koi which was about 20 inches long lying on its side.  Two others were also in the same condition.  I immediately caught all the fish in my hands and placed them back in the long pond.   One butterfly about 12 inches long and one koi about 8 inches survived, but the other three died in about 15 to 20 minutes.  I ran oxygen enriched water on them and even through their gills all to no avail.  

It appeared that the gills were burned.  Normally the gills are a deep dark red and when damaged by gill flukes or from chlorine poisoning. they become gray.  I am sure there are other things that affect the gills but in this case they were also gray.  Also, we both noticed that all three fish had a funny appearance in their eyes.  The coloring in their eyes had separated and fallen to the bottom of the eye in small granules.  To explain it another way, the eye is white with an iris in the center.  Over part of the white part is a circle of brown.  This circle looked like it had been broken up into a coarse powder and settled in the bottom of the eye.

We lost some nice fish but learned a lesson.  I have seen pecans in the main pond before, but the broken up parts of both the meat and husk create a lot more surface area than the whole nut.   I should have taken a ph test of the polluted water to see what it read.  The container had been cleaned of debris the previous day, so all the nut debris was from one day.  Previously, when the container was open and exposed to the debris for a few weeks, it had about 8 inches of very dark brown water and trash in it.  

September 4, 2000

We have been working hard to get our pond ready for our little fall sale.  A few weeks ago, we had a pond tour which was quite a success.  A number of people asked if the baby Yamabuki ogon koi were for sale.  Well, the time is about here.  We will be selling the fish on Saturday September 23, 2000 for 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.   Here is a link to the flyer we printed that gives more details.  (9-4-00 Fall Koi Sale)

August 22, 2000

Well we have a lot of good looking baby koi to sell this fall.  Many of the people who visit us are beginners, and I have observed that they like yellow fish and in particular butterfly koi.

Well, the purest do not and that is ok, we do not want to sell really expensive koi to beginners until they learn how to take care of them.  In our situation this year we bred a very good yamabuki ogon female with two excellent yamabuki males and have some very excellent babies.  

In addition about a week later we mated a female named the Green Hornet with two yamabuki males.  The Green Hornet is a gray green fish with some metallic scales on the back but some of the most magnificent fins  you have ever seen.  Also she has these great eyebrows which are on some butterfly koi.  The offspring look great and we have lots of each of the above.

We also have some other nice two and three year old butterfly koi for sale and some show quality koi too.

We have not picked the exact date but expect it to be mid September.  Our general plan is to open at 9:00 in the AM and go till Noon.  We will be sending a notice to local koi enthusiast prior to the date.  If you read this and want to be notified, please drop me an email  ....  Send E-Mail to arbormaster

back to the top

August 22, 2000

Our local pond tour went well.  Our pond is located in a cluster close to three other ponds and we had an excellent turn out. We had about ten ponds on tour, but some of them area spread out quite a distance and I doubt that attendance was very good with them just because of the distances involved.   I wish we had some ponds on the tour that were of other ponds than koi members.  I know that are some great ponds in Charlotte, but apparently our insurance does not cover ponds on the tour unless they are an active member of the club.

I always try to be low key about what we sell and certainly would not sell any fish or plants on the tour day.  I try to talk about the koi of which there are many and because I get a lot of questions about the baby fry, explain about the breeding and the parents.  We kept quite busy during the pond tour talking to people.  It was a steady stream except for about 30 minutes around 1:30 or so.  We opened at 9:00 and went until 5:00 pm.. 

back to the top

July 28, 2000

The rebuilt pump has been in a week, and the UV was fixed with new bulb, and within three days the water was crystal clear again.  I also had to do a major cleaning of all filters.  Because I ran out of fish food I fed a lot of veggies to the koi.  I have lots of aquatic plants, and rather than throw them on the garden as mulch, I fed many of them to the koi while I and the fish waited for the Misty Mountain Gourmet Koi food to arrive.

Regular fish food is about 30% protein and no telling what the plants were, but there was tremendous debris left over from their partial consumption of the plants.  My advice, do not feed your fish plants unless you do not care about water quality. 

back to the top

July 21-00

We have had lots of things happen all at once at the pond. I stopped in on Sunday a week ago and shut the pump off to drain the vortex settling-chamber. The Sequence pump, which has been in for about four years, would not start back up. I rigged up a temporary pump, which did not work very well, but at least I kept things going.

A week before the almost new Alita pump in the skimmer gave out. I put in another extra pump that we had around the shop, and it lasted about one week. It got a small twig in the impeller and shorted out which kicked the circuit breaker. The whole pond was off in 90-degree weather for about 5 hours before I discovered it. So now I am loaded with green water. Now the algae did not come from the pump failure, but from the fact that my UV was on its last legs. I shall explain.

Sometimes when we install a pond and use an UV, which just so happens to be the same brand as the type on our pond, mine gets robbed of a vital part. One time the quartz cylinder was broken on shipment; the next time the unit was sent with out the top cover etc. So my UV is constantly being robbed of a part and now is a combination of about three different UVs. All were the same type which is the Rainbow 40 watt. We like it very well and have had good success with Rainbow over the years. Anyway, the only original part is the main housing, and if you keep up the information in the koi magazines, there is a lot of fanfare about whose is best and who has the reflective sleeve etc.

Well the photo below is an example of what the UV does to plastic over a few years. In case you have never looked in one, here is how it works. The water comes in the bottom and goes out the bottom but first has to travel to the top of the UV where a ¾ inch PVC tube carries the water back to the bottom outlet. The purpose is so that the water will have to traverse the length of the tube and will be exposed to the UV bulb for the entire length of the housing. If the plastic of the ¾ tube is eaten away by the UV, then water will go directly from the intake to the outflow and bypass most of length of the UV Bulb and hence the UV light. You can see that the entire ¾ inch tube is eaten away.

The new version for Rainbow has a plastic sleeve adjacent to the housing that can be removed. The ¾ inch tube came out easily from the old unit after I had removed the entire assembly and replaced it with a new unit. Had I know that the ¾ inch tube would come out so easily, I probably would have just replaced it even though the outer walls of the unit were somewhat deteriorated.

I tired to pull the ¾ tube free in the new unit when I first started examining it but could not get it out and assumed it was glued in. I guess I should have read the instructions. We are up and running again, and the next step is to get some of the unwanted fish out of the 6000-gallon pond and place them in a new pond we have build. The new pond is 4 feet by 30 feet and will allow us to easily catch and resell the fish we desire to sell. My plan is to keep the larger pond for show quality koi and Tatigoi (potential show quality koi).

back to the top

July 7-21-2000

Today I went into a pet store and noticed some butterfly koi for sale. They seemed to have a concave stomach starting about their pectoral fins. At first I wondered if it was a new type of koi. I then recalled that a few years ago I had a few fish that became forgotten in a 50 gallon container and had very little to eat. They developed a similar sunken chest / stomach. I wonder if these fish were just starved before they got to the store. Another person who runs a fish store told me sometime ago that he did not feed his fish much because he was interested in selling them and not growing them. What brings this to mind is that this year I have about 500 baby fry and it amazes me what the differences in size are. I believe it all comes down to how much food they can consume. Some fish are more aggressive and get more than their fair share at a given feeding and these fish grow fast. Others never seem to compete and remain stunted. All these fish hatched in April and some are three inches long and others are ¾ of an inch in length. I do realize that there is a genetic factor.

I keep them in different containers and some are nurtured and fed four or five times a day while others are left to fend for themselves in containers with lots of plants. In some cases I do not even feed them once a day.

When I took the photos below I observed the yamabuki and tried to zero in on one that was really gorgeous. In the light the ginrin (metallic) really showed up. I can't wait for her to grow. You can bet she will not be in the new pond to give away or sell.

Here is a photo of the fry. I mated one large ginrin yamabuki ogon female with two almost perfect yamabuki males for these fry.  I just showed this photo to my wife she suggested naming this fish Cinderella. 


back to the top

July 1 2000

Our Server made a change about three weeks ago and forgot to move our password to the new location. I have not been able to get on line to add to these pages. Quite a lot has happened concerning the construction of our new pond and the with the new koi fry so I will try to bring things up to the present time which is the weekend before the Fourth of July.

We are getting ready for the August PKWGS Pond Tour (August 12, 2000) and there is a lot of cleaning up to do. We recently build a long above ground pond that is about forty feet long, four feet wide and four feet high although the water level will only by three feet.

What is the purpose of this new pond? Well the large 6000-gallon pond is overstocked, and many of the fish in it are just marginal specimens. As most of you know capturing koi in a large deep pond is not easy, and we decided that if we build the pond described earlier we could section it off and would be able to put the fish we wanted to get rid of in the new smaller pond. We plan a fish sale later in the summer and would like to just keep our pets and show quality koi in the larger pond. I am sure our fish would like that also.

The Fry

As mentioned in previous post, we had a successful mating of yamabuki ogons (solid yellow) in early April. Culling has largely amounted to moving the larger ones to another tank so they would not eat the remaining smaller koi. Some of the koi are now 2 ½ inches long and yet in some of the secondary tanks there are fish that are only ½ an inch long. I believe the reason is that they just do not get enough food and are genetically less aggressive. My older theory was that if we created a natural habitat for the young fry by providing lots of plants etc. in a well-aerated pond they would thrive.

That theory proved to be wrong in that the larger fish eventually eat all the smaller ones or compete for the food to an extent that the smaller ones just never get enough food. Also there are other predators that get into the pond like frogs, and the larvae of the dragon fly. I believe that once the fish get about and 1 ½ inch long to 2 inches long they seem to be able to survive. I have some smaller tanks that are about 50 to 100 gallons and if just left to the natural selection there will be about six fish in the container at the end of the summer.

Meanwhile the most successful tank I have is the 300-gallon quarantine tank, which has a 30-gallon barrel with a box of Springflo in it for biofilter material. This seems to work well and there are hundreds of young koi fry in it. Most of them are about two inches long and some larger ones were culled to another tank. I had a second mating of a yamabuki with a large butterfly koi that I called the Green Hornet. Green Hornet is mostly gray with a greenish cast to her back. She has absolutely gorgeous long fins and is quite spectacular in the pond. So far her babies don’t look so great so I do not know what to expect. In the past I have been able to separate the butterfly because the longer fins show up at a very early age.

The yamabuki fry on the other hand are doing very well. Most seem to be solid yellow and there is a lot of ginrin (metallic scales) showing up.

back to the top

July 2, 2000

A few weeks ago we filled the new pond with about a food of water and watched it drop a few inches overnight. Unfortunately the liner was placed in the pond for a month with some cement cinder blocks on the top edges weight the liner down. On a few occasions I saw some of the blocks in the pond, which means they either fell or dropped into the pond. Maybe the liner was abused in some other way, but it certainly leaked. Herman, one of our employees, has the incredible ability to find leaks and eventually did by cleaning the liner and just getting on his hands and knees and looking very carefully for leaks. In this case he found one that was about a half inch long. I knew the leak must be close to that location because when one would walk in the pond the area below this was mushy and my heel would sink in. We had pretty much decided that the leak was in a ten-foot area and hopefully there will not be additional leaks when we patch this one and fill the pond again.

back to the top

July 3, 2000

How much water should evaporate from your pond per day?

I recently read an article about swimming pools that suggested putting a five-gallon bucket filled to the top ½ inch in the pool on one of the step. Adopting the idea for ponds here is what to do.

Place a bucket on bricks, a milk crate or whatever so that the top of the bucket is just above the water level of the pond. Fill the bucket so that the initial water level is exactly the same level as the water in the pond. Mark the level of water in the bucket. Since both the bucket and the pond will receive the same outside temperature and exposure to the elements, they should evaporate evenly. If you have a leak then the pond water will drop more quickly. If you have a waterfall, fountain, or other outside condition then these factors would throw off your measurement. I suppose if you could leave the pump off for a day so there is no waterfall flow then you would have a truer picture of exactly how much water you are losing to evaporation or a leak. Obviously the mark inside the bucket gives a good point of reference.

back to the top

May 16, 2000

I now have four containers with thousands of baby fry in them.  The containers are 100, 200, 200, and 300 gallons, and each have an air stone and various plants in them such as parrot feather, anacharas, water lily, and duck weed. I have made an effort to develop algae both string and suspended algae to try to create as natural an environment as possible.  Unfortunately, there is a frog in one container which I will need to remove since when the fry get a little bigger, I am sure Mr. frog will feast on the fry.

In all ponds the fry are starting to eat powdered koi food.  I got an used coffee bean grinder at a sale a few years ago for $5.00 and use it to pulverize the koi food.  I use Misty Mountain Gourmet Koi Food which has krill and other goodies in it.  Baby koi are supposed to be fed five times a day with special food and watched very closely, but I am trying to make it easier and really just want a fraction of the baby koi that I now have swimming around.  Natural selection and culling will take place and create nutrient for the plants that are in the containers.  I am not too worried about sprinkling dry food on the water and watch it float down and rest on the anacharas.  I think if the fish do not get it, the plants will use the nutrients too.  I am checking ammonia daily and siphon water and debris off the bottoms occasionally.  

back to the top

May 9, 2000

Yesterday I placed the Green Hornet, female butterfly koi, in my cleaned out quarantine tank along with two yellow Yamabuki males.  The temperature was right at 68 degrees in the water, and I also added a big batch of parrot feather.  Well it worked again, as soon as I went down to the pond early this morning I saw foam on the water from a distance and smelled the distinctive smell that appears when the fish spawn.

Again I had 50,000 eggs and placed some in three new containers for the young eggs.  I should have lots of yellow, green, maybe blue butterfly koi.  It should be interesting and the odds will be much better this year of getting some interesting fish. 

As we follow this along I will tell you what I am doing about feeding.  I try to keep it simple and really do not want 1000's of baby koi.  I suppose a hundred or so might be good, but then I would have to worry about good homes for them and then the hobby turns into WORK.

back to the top

May 9, 2000

The first batch of koi are now a few days old and seem to be doing well.  I placed them in two of the containers one of which has lots of plant material in it.  Click on thumbnail for larger photo.   (insert here) ( sorry this did not get done.  jmm)

back to the top

May 1, 2000

I have mentioned before that peaches from my peach trees drop in the koi pond.  Rather than repeat what I wrote check this link  Koi Peach Trees. in the Tree Section of this column.

back to the top

April 28, 2000

The fish mentioned below (April 27, 2000) spawned this morning.  The water temperature is 60 degrees F. in both the big pond and the smaller 300 gallon tank.  The outside temperature is about 55 degrees and it is warmer to the west of Charlotte.  Optimum temperature should be 68 degrees F., but I did a couple of things that speeded things up I think.

The black 300 gallon tank is in the full sun above ground.  It warms up quickly and I have observed that a temperature change seems to bring about spawning.  The second thing is that the female needs something to spawn onto and as mentioned many times by me I like parrot feather.  Parrot feather is hardy here and tolerates light freezing weather.  The fish seem to find it to their liking and this entire operation has been pretty painless so far.

In a week many of the koi will hatch and in some of the tanks in more shade and a little cooler, it will take a few days longer.  I spread the eggs around to various other tanks that have plants in them and have successfully raised koi this way.  Culling can be difficult because as the fish mature, the larger ones will eat the smaller in a cannibalistic manner. 

I will see if I can improve on my hobbiest method of culling.   Also this was so easy this time, I plan to try to breed a  few Kohakus also.

back to the top

April 27, 2000

The water temperature is 62 F. today and it has been very cool.  We expect the air temperature to get up into the mid 70's over the weekend, and if the water gets to 68 F. I expect to get some spawning.  I have placed a 22 inch Ginrin Yamabuki ogon which means metalic, solid color yellow fish in a separate tank with two young males of the same type.  The two young males have very clean heads and this should be an interesting match.  This is the first time I have tried to breed specific koi and it will be fun to see what happens.  I will keep posting about it.

back to the top

April 25, 2000

We have had a return to cool weather which seems to have slowed down pond activity.  The azaleas have faded and usually it gets in the 80's about now.  I am expecting the koi to spawn any time now and have made preparations for them.  I am using the same technique that I have used in years past so here is a link to Raising Koi Fry for 1998.  Last year I accidentally had a controlled spawn.  I had a very pretty female butterfly in the quarantine tank because she had a small wound.  Also there were some other koi and a big clump of parrot feather.  The day after putting the female in the tank, she spawned.

With the cool spring and the potential for disease, I wrote the following article about spring preparation and being prepared for potential problems.    Prepare for Surprises: Learn to recognize problems before they appear.

back to the top

April 5, 2000

When treating with potassium permanganate, knowing the proper amount to use is very helpful.  I made up this small spreadsheet with some information I gleaned from Dr. Roddy W. Conrad.  Pot-perm.xls   If you have excel and click on it you can read it on screen.  Also you can save it to disk.  I have placed it on my desktop, and any time I treat one of our ponds, I refer to it to make sure my dosage is accurate.

back to the top

April 3, 2000

Sometimes my pond gets a lot dirtier than I think it should.  I really believe stain would be a better word to use.  In the fall as the leaves are falling, the water turns tan to brown.  This spring I noticed as I usually do that a sweetgum tree ( Liquidambar styraciflua ) near my ponds was dropping sweetgum balls fast and furiously.  They drop frequently all winter and seem to stain the water although I have never really checked to see if the sweetgum balls were the culprits.   

This spring the water has turned a very dark brown color, like very dark coffee, and I suspected it was the sweetgum balls or flowers.  To prove the point we had a lot of wind in the last few days, and many of the pollen laden flowers fell in and around my pond.  Here is a photo of a container that had a little water in it.  Look at the amount of color that came from the pollen in the flowers.     Now there is not a question about it, the sweetgum flower will really mess  your pond up quickly. 

The Christmas tree shaped flower is just below the knife point and is about two inches long.


back to the top

April 3, 2000

Quite a bit is happening with the koi, and I have cleaned the filters a couple of times. The water is quite clear, and the females are getting fat.  I get concerned this time of year because it is when the problems with fish are likely to creep up.

I spotted one of my yellow butterfly koi the other day with a fin that was slightly eaten out on the tail and immediately took her out and put her in the quarantine tank.  I have treated that water a number of times with PP, and watched the fish closely.  I did not inject, which maybe I should have, but only have been keeping a close eye on the fish.

I did have one large koi get into the filter and banged herself up pretty badly.  I was worried about aeromonas and likewise placed her in quarantine.  This fish I did inject with Baytril.

back to the top

Improved Protocol for PP treatment.

One of the recommendations for clearing the pond of parasites is to treat with Potassium Permanganate at 4PPM.  This can have disastrous effects on fish if not done properly.  Dr. Roddy Conrad has written a very detailed protocol which is what he does with his fish.  I have started this practice at least with splitting the dosage into two treatments, one after the other one clears.  Here is the article.  PP Protocol

back to the top

March 5, 2000

Water temperature in the main pond is 55 degrees and climbing.  It will be 80 in two days and I imagine that the water temp will get up close to 70.  I salted the pond with .3 % about 12 days ago.  Latest advice on when to salt is to wait until the water temp is in the high 50's because the pathogens it affects are not active in the low 50's.  That makes some sense, but I believe it is not entirely true.  I will check that out and report.

I also cleaned out all filters and have things looking pretty good.  Also treated my smaller tanks with potassium permanganate since there are mostly plants in them and I want things to get off to a clean start. 

back to the top

January 28, 2000

I lost my first fish of the new year today.  A tancho koi jumped out of the skimmer even though I have rocks around the lip of the skimmer.  This has happened many times before, and I put a nursery plant tray in front of the opening last year and although it worked ok, it did not look very good.  I have a few ideas which I will share later.

We use and sell the skimmer sold by Pond Supplies of America and to my knowledge have not had a fish jumping problem with it.  Unfortunately, the skimmer on our pond here is an inferior design, mainly in that it is round and very difficult to clean.  Also the weir is not baffled as the PSA skimmer.  If it were not for the cost and inconvenience I would change it in a minute.

back to the top

February 24, 2000

I just got through treating my pond with salt and for flukes.  I am treating earlier than I thought about doing it a few weeks ago, but a couple of things prompted me to do so.  The main one is the message sent out for Dr. Erik L. Johnson, D.V.M. about things to do in the spring time.  

I have made a separate page for his message because it is timely every year, and it came to me as an email.  Here it is. 

I was amazed at the gunk that was in the bottom of the filters.  I cleaned things out thoroughly in the fall but I imagine lots of leaves still ended up in the filters.  The pond it self was clean but unless the open filters are covered, leaves will get in.  This would be one reason that a bubble bead would be desirable because it is a closed system.

Also it is wise to use a muck net to get this debris out before it all goes down the drain.  I am sure there are some 90 degree elbows in the piping form the filters to the sum and sure enough, they got clogged.  I either need to put a screen over the drain openings or just get out all the leaves.  

To make bad matters worse, one of the trees close by is a pecan and the leaf is a compound leaf so the leaf stem is about 10 inches long and it really does a job of clogging up pipes.

back to the top

February 18, 2000

Below is one of the neatest links on the web if you are seriously interested in fish, koi in particular..... .    Roark, who is a frequent visitor on the message board has a wealth of information.  Now with that said I am posting his site because he has a number free programs and one of them is for measuring salt.  This is the time of year to do so as non  iodized salt wipes out most koi parasites and diseases.  We like to get our fish off to a good start in the spring when the fish are at their weakest and sometimes the "baddies" get cranked up before the immune systems of the fish are fully functional.

So go to his site and download salinity calculator.  It is located in the sidebar under Free Downloads.

back to the top

February 17, 2000

Water temp was 50 degrees F. yesterday.  Koi are really swimming around looking hungry.  I checked the salt in my 6000 gallon pond today and it read .1.  I salted in the fall about September at .3 and unsalted water does not register on my hydrometer.  Anyway it normally takes 120 lbs to bring it up to .3.  I will measure what it takes and post that here. 

back to the top

February 9, 2000

There is a lot of technology out there and even though bubble bead filters have been here for quite a few years, there have been many improvements.  Generally, how they work is that water flows past floating beads and these beads trap debris.  The surface area of the beads also is a Hard Surface Area where the beneficial bacteria can grow.  It is a fact that if not maintained pretty often the bead filters tend to clog up so need frequent flushing.  The methods of flushing have improved and there are back washing techniques that make the job quicker.  Since I do not know what different methods are used on all of the different brands, I can not address all of them.  

If the bead filter is not flushed, it tends to clog.  In the older styles, once clogged, it was difficult to get things working again, and various types of backwashing methods developed.  The problem that I see is that many of the beneficial bacteria will be washed out with the backwash.  It takes about six weeks for these bacteria to become established and the rule is that it takes 450 square feet of Hard Surface Area on which the bacteria can grow to nitrify one pond of fish food per day.  An expansion of the rule is to allow 1000 square feet of Hard Surface Area for each pound of fish food or 50 pounds of fish.  

It would seem that the rule needs to be further modified with bubble bead filters.  One cubic foot of beads equals 400 square feet of Hard Surface Area which is very good if the bacteria are still functioning at 100% in the filter after the backwashing.  One of the newer bubble bead filters referred to as a fluid bead filter can hold 9 cubic feet of fiber glass beads.  That's a lot and would be the equivalent to 3600 square feet of Hard Surface Area.  Our 6000 gallon pond here has a total Hard Surface Area of 877 square feet before any of the filters are concerned.  With four boxes of Springflo at 180 square feet and some other biomaterial, the total is 1677 square feet of Hard Surface Area.  The fluid bead filter mentioned above will have over twice as much area for the bacteria to grow as in our pond.  It probably cost more than our setup has also. 

back to the top

February 3, 2000

A friend came in this morning to get a copy of a book, and said her husband had seen our pond and she wanted to also.  We hiked through the snow and ice out the back door and made our way to the pond.

There they were in the middle of winter, the koi slowly swimming around on the bottom of the pond.  There is no ice and it is supposed to get to 60 degrees today.  As always in the middle of winter, the water was crystal clear and my friend was really impressed with the colorful koi.  All the planting nearby was dead or drooping and I pointed out that one of they reasons I like koi is that they are pretty all year long and not like a plant that only blooms for about 21 days.

It will not belong before I start the spring treatment.  Add salt to bring the level back up to .3%.  Treat with Dimilin.  Acquire some Fluke Tabs so I can treat in the isolation tank.  Fluke Tabs are too expensive for treating my 6000 gallon pond but are great for the 300 gallon quarantine tank. 

I must also check the medicine chest and see what else I might need.  Later I will post the inventory in the koi-medicine chest and post it here.  Meanwhile, if you are thinking of building a pond or want to see how much biofilter material you need for your pond, refer to How Much Biological Media Do I Need to Support Koi..  The gist of this article is that beneficial bacteria need a place to grow and that place can be on the liner, the bottom, plant containers, the bio-filter, etc.  This article helps explain how much Hard Surface Area you need with a real-pond demonstration.  Also see Springflo our favorite bio-media.

back to the top


September 4, 2000

If you do not have an irrigation system, you need to consider planting grass now.  As the leaves falls a little later in the season, they tend to choke out the young tender grass.  If you plant early and can keep the grass seed growing it will be stronger and can tolerate better some leaves.

If you want us to do lawn renovation for you, then you had better plan to call us soon.  We fill up all available slots pretty quickly.

back to the top

March 5, 2000

Spring is here and fertilizer and lime should already be down.  Although it does not hurt anything if you have waited until now to get down the fertilizer, your neighbors lawns will be greening up sooner than yours.  Also you will probably have less weeds than your neighbors for the same reason.  It is always hard for us to get all of the work done in the early spring.

Pre-emergent crab grass and weed control should go down immediately.  The forsythia is out and it is a better indicator than the dogwood tree as to soil temperature.  There are lots of choices of pre-emergent to use and this year as the last few we are putting it down in two applications.  That way we get a longer range of control with less damage to the fescue.  Some of the earlier pre-emergent chemicals damaged tender grass.

back to the top

February 10, 2000

Insect Control 

This is about the time of year we start our dormant spray for insect control.  We have an insect control program that treats the shrubbery about four times a year.  The main problems we have in this area are scale insects, boxwood leaf miner, and lace bugs.  There are other problems but these give us the main problems.  If you would like to read more about the common insects that thrive in this area and do harm to landscape shrubbery, take a look at our free booklet called. Common Insects for Piedmont North Carolina.   

We also have a program for fertilizing shrubbery.  We have been doing that for many years.  Just yesterday I spoke with a client who has been having us perform that service for her for over 30 years.  We like to keep them happy for a long time.

If you live in the area and would like someone from our office to talk to you about caring for your trees and shrubs, please give us a call at 7704-332-4628.  Ask for David or Bryan.

back to the top


Below is a very handy reference about how to manage your residential irrigation controller.  We are active in the Carolinas Irrigation Association and this publication was printed up by its members.

Consumers Guide to Efficient Irrigation (by CIA)

September 4, 2000

As our landscaping crew installs jobs, many times we are called upon to install an irrigation system as well.  We have kept out irrigation staff small since we try to service our existing clients as well as do a reasonable number of irrigation installations.

Since we have been doing irrigation work for over ten years, we think we know a good bit about the subject.  We find that we are different from many companies in that we pay a lot more attention to detail than some.  A typical irrigation installation will have the following options, most of which are standard.

If you want a well designed and installed irrigation system, give us a call at 332-46528 or Send E-Mail to arbormaster 

 Night lighting

Much of the information about lighting and how we do it is similar to the way we install irrigation.  See comments directly above.

If you would like to examine some of the issues we have addressed in past years, they are contained in our Seasonal Information Archives.

1996 Seasonal Information. 

1997 Seasonal Information

1998 Seasonal Information  

1998 and 1999 Seasonal Information Page