Whether you have a large, ecosystem pond or a small pondless waterfall, it requires some special care to preserve and protect it through the coldest winter months. With a little bit of know-how and some preparation, you can not only keep your water features and any fish and critters that are living in them safe, but you can even enjoy them all winter long!
Preparing Your Pond
Small or large, koi or goldfish, professionally installed or DIY, your pond is probably the jewel of your landscape. To protect that gem, you’ll need to give it a little TLC during fall and winter to ensure that plants are ready for bloom again in spring, and fish and other critters are safely tucked away until the temperatures rise.
Different plants require different care: trim marginals to just above the water line, cut back lilies and lotuses to just above the base of the plant and remove tropical floaters since these won’t be able to endure the winter. Bonus tip: bring tropicals indoors where they make for great container plants!
As for anything free-floating, like leaves or other debris, remove it with a net, and make sure you also grab anything that has sunk to the bottom of the pond. Decaying organic matter left over the winter can pose the greatest threat to the health of your pond and fish.
For more details on preparing your pond and equipment for winter, read this.
Preparing Pond Fish And Critters
Your koi don’t like winter – but they can survive, providing that you take the time to set them up in a protective winter environment. Fish metabolism slows during winter so they should not be fed once temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But while they may not need food, they do need oxygen. Be sure to keep an aerator or bubbler running near the top of the pond, but try not to disturb the warmer water below where you fish will be nestled waiting for spring.
And while fish can survive winter, they cannot survive being frozen in a block of ice! If there’s a chance that the surface of your pond will freeze over, choose safe over sorry and use a deicer.
These steps will also protect snails and frogs, who will find sandy and muddy spots where they can burrow and rock crevices to nestle into. The same rules apply – keep the oxygen flowing and don’t let the pond freeze over.
Here are a few more tips for protecting koi and fish during winter.
Preparing Your Waterfall
Have a waterfall, either as part of your pond or as a freestanding pondless waterfall? Then it’s decision making time! You can choose to shut it off, in which case you can simply turn off and remove the pump until spring. Never leave your pump in the pond if it’s not running or you risk costly or irreversible damage to the equipment. Be sure to store the pump in a bucket of water in a garage or shed where it won’t freeze. That will help to preserve it and extend the life of the seals.
But having a functioning waterfall can be one of winter’s greatest joys. It does require a bit of extra maintenance but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful water and ice formations that can add motion, texture and visual interest to an otherwise still winterscape.
If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll need to periodically check to be sure that your waterfall doesn’t form ice dams, which can divert water and drain it – and the pond it’s part of. You’ll also need to periodically replenish water lost due to evaporation.
Preparing Your Water Fountain
Unlike your pond or pondless waterfall, fountains are too shallow to keep running without inevitably freezing over.
Outdoor water fountains are designed to withstand the elements, but if water freezes it can cause them to crack and can ruin the pump. If you can, drain your fountain and store it dry, in a garage or shed.
If yours is too large or heavy, then draining it is the most important thing you can do. Remove and clean the pump (if you can) and clean it out so it will be free of dirt and algae and ready for spring. Store the pump in your garage or shed.
Cover your fountain to help keep moisture out. A specially designed fountain cover is waterproof and has a drawstring at the bottom so you gain maximum protective benefits.
Water features add beauty to any landscape and can be a delight all year long. Whether you have a small pondless waterfall or a vast ecosystem pond, these steps will help keep your investment safe and extend its longevity so you can continue to enjoy it throughout the years.
If you have questions about protecting your pond or water feature, let us know. We’re available for full service pond closings in the fall and openings in the spring!