Even as you enjoy the lazy days of late summer, it’s not too soon to be thinking about winterizing your pond. Good preparation starts long before the cold weather sets in, so get a jump start now and you’ll have an easier startup in the spring, and a healthier pond all year long.
Skim debris from the pond and remove any sunken debris with a long handled net.
Net and cover the pond before the leaves start to fall. Doing this will make it a lot easier to remove the fallen leaves, which can upset your pond’s natural balance if they are left to decay on the bottom. Keep an eye on the weather and remove the net as soon as the leaves are done falling and before the first snowstorm. Cleanup is easy, but if you leave the net on the pond, snow may collapse it and the fish can become tangled and die.
Add cold water bacteria when the temperature dips below 50° Fahrenheit. It will maintain water quality and clarity and digest debris that accumulates during the winter months.
Clean skimmer pads, brushes, debris net and pumps. Doing this now will keep your pond healthier during the winter months and make your spring startup a lot easier.
Add a recirculating pump just beneath the surface to keep the water oxygenated during the cold weather. Your fish may be inactive but they still need sufficient oxygen to survive.
Decide whether you want to turn off your waterfall for the winter. If you want to keep it running, you’ll need to take a couple of extra maintenance steps during the winter to ensure that it doesn’t form ice dams, which can divert water and drain your pond. You will also need to top off the pond due to water lost to evaporation.
If you choose to turn it off, remove the pump and store it in a bucket of water in your garage or basement where it will not freeze. Keeping it in water will help to maintain the life of the seals during storage.
Remove and clean filters and store these in a place where they will not freeze. A good cleaning now will make your spring startup a lot easier.
If you’re using an electronic water clarifier, like Aquascape’s Iongen system, shut it down. Excessive copper released by the system can kill fish during winter months.
Finally, add a deicer so the surface of the pond does not freeze over. Without an opening, harmful gasses cannot escape nor can oxygen be circulated in. And you certainly don’t want to be standing outside in the middle of a snow or ice storm pouring buckets of warm water over your pond just to keep it from freezing.
Cut back lilies and lotuses to just above the base of the plant and remove the debris. This will prevent the plants from decaying in the water and will prepare them for spring bloom.
Trim marginal plants to just above the water line. You can leave some grasses, like ribbon grass and sweet flag to add visual interest to your winter landscape.
Remove tropical plants, including floaters. They won’t make it through the cold months and you don’t want them decaying and throwing your pond’s ecosystem out of balance. Most of these will make great houseplants for the winter, or you can simply choose to treat them an annuals.
When the water temperature reaches 65° Fahrenheit, switch to a cold water fish food. Fish metabolism and digestion slows down in cooler temperatures and cold water food is specifically designed to aid digestion and help maintain water quality during this time.
Stop feeding your fish entirely when the water temperature dips below 55° Fahrenheit. Otherwise you’ll end up with decay and an unbalanced ecosystem.
If you take these steps to prepare your pond for fall and winter, you’ll maintain a healthy ecosystem and look forward to a simple spring startup. Do you have any questions about how to winterize your pond that we didn’t address here? Let us know.
And if this all sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry – our professional crew can do it for you. Just ask!