Winter is upon us, but before you crack open the eggnog and settle down by the fire, we want to take a moment to make sure your pond or water feature has been properly winterized, so you don’t have to deal with the consequences once spring rolls back in.
By putting in a little bit of effort now, you can avoid costly mistakes like cracked plumbing or loss of fish and plant life.
Read our guide below to help you properly prepare your pond this winter.
Pro Tips for Winterizing Your Pond
It is best to begin winterizing your pond in the fall before the leaves start to fall, ground frost sets in and the water temperature begins to drop.
In Northern climates this may be around September/October while Southern regions may have a bit more time.
Consult your local pond or fish professionals to ensure you get to it at the best time of year in your area.
Here are a few tips to help ensure your fish, plants and pond are prepared for the winter.
- By installing a pond net you can catch most of the leaves and debris that trees and plants shed during the fall, saving you the unpleasant job of having to scoop it off the bottom later. This debris will otherwise accumulate on the bottom and decay, providing the nutrients that algae and bacteria need to thrive. Once the leaves have stopped falling, you can just roll up the netting and dispose of the refuse.
- While the leaves are still falling, you will need to clean out the skimmer basket every few days, as it may fill up quickly depending on how many trees and plants are in the area. Once the leaves have stopped falling, you won’t need to do this nearly as often.
- According to Marquis Gardens, all hardy water lilies and submersible plants can be dropped down to the deepest point in the pond for the winter (Foliage from Lilies should be cut back to reduce decaying matter). Floating plants can be removed, and hardy marginals can be trimmed back, leaving around 2" to 4” of the plant from the base and tropical water plants can be moved to a sunny indoor area (be sure to keep the soil moist).
Cold Water Bacteria
Adding cold water bacteria will provide beneficial bacteria that help maintain water quality and clarity. These bacteria are designed to work in colder water temperatures, and will also help to reduce spring clean up by digesting the debris that may accumulate over the winter.
When water temperatures start to drop fish need a more specialized diet that is easier to digest in cooler temperatures. It is usually suggested to change over to this diet when temperatures get around 50-60F/10-15C and to stop feeding them all together once you reach 45-50F/7-10C as they will become dormant.
Koi and pond fish can be overwintered in ponds that are 42-48” or deeper as long as there is a pond heater and aeration present. For shallow ponds, it is recommended that you bring your fish indoors.
Air stones should not be near the fish as they will transfer cooler air to where the fish are. Move them to around half the depth of the pond or at least 2 feet from the bottom for the winter.
To run or not to run (your pond over winter).
You may choose to keep your pond/water feature running over the winter or shut it right down.
If you are going to keep it running there will be some maintenance involved…
- You may need to top up the water from time to time to compensate for evaporation.
- You will also have to keep an eye out for ice formations that may cause water to spill over the edges
- You will want to maintain a hole in the ice by using an aerator or in-pond pump. A pond de-icer may also be needed.
If you choose to shut it down instead…
- Remove the pump from your pond and store it in a warm place. Keeping it in a bucket of water will help prevent the seals from drying out.
- Drain the water from your pond's plumbing. If you don’t and the water freezes it will expand and crack your pipes.
- Remove the filter media and clean them thoroughly. You can store them somewhere warm along with any UV systems. If you have an ionizer you will also need to remove the head and bring it inside. Be sure to clean off the anodes.
- Aerate the water to increase oxygen for your fish and maintain a hole in the surface of the pond, so oxygen can enter and harmful gasses can escape.
- In colder climates you may also need a de-icer.
Waterproof & Protect Your Pond With Liquid Rubber NeoPond SealantWhat happens if you don’t waterproof your pond?
- Concrete: Water can make its way to the rebar causing corrosion, which will onion/scale and cause spalling, delamination and cracking of the concrete. Concrete ponds are also prone to cracking due to settling, soil heaving, aging and poor construction. Cracks in your concrete pond will result in saturation of the ground around the pond and having to constantly top the pond up (not to mention excessive water bills).
- Wood: Due to the cost and ease of construction, wood is used more often than you may think to construct ponds, especially for indoor water features. Create a waterproof surface and protect your wood from rot by coating it with Liquid Rubber NeoPond Sealant.
- EPDM Liners: These are easy to install and do a good job if you have a fairly small pond. But if you have larger or more complicated designs you will have seams which are prone to failure. EPDM is also one of the softer pond materials and can tear quite easily compared to other materials. Use Liquid Rubber NeoPond Sealant to repair failed seams and tears and to seal your prond properly.
- PVC and HDPE liners: These will do a good job but can become quite brittle in colder temperatures or easily crack if a force is applied to them. Once they do crack, you will want to repair them with Liquid Rubber NeoPond Sealant.
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