Life gets busy and a lot of responsibilities fall by the wayside. Winterizing your pond may be one of those tasks that just fell through the cracks and now you are wondering, is it too late to winterize the pond? If you are still experiencing Fall weather, you can learn about all the winterizations steps here.
If you are having “Winter” weather and your pond has not frozen over, then congratulations! You are not too behind to whip that pond into shape to handle the frigid cold. Although you are a little late to the game, there are still some tasks you can do to prep your water garden.
If your pond has frozen over, you can learn what to do here.
CLEAN YOUR POND
The task of removing leaves will help to make sure there is no decaying debris in the bottom of your pond. You can take a fish net and clear the water of any leaves and debris. Pond nets are suggested to cover the surface to catch any falling leaves, but if the trees are already bare you may not need one. Cutting back aquatic and marginal plants will help to prevent any decomposing material over the cold winter months. If necessary, use an additive like pond cleaner tablets to help accelerate the decomposition of leaves, scum, sediment, and other pollutants to keep a healthy balanced ecosystem. This will also help to make sure your pond is healthy when you reopen your pond in spring.
CLOSING DOWN THE POND
Determine when and if pond equipment like pumps, filters, and UV clarifiers should be shut down. If your winter temperatures are moderate, then you can keep the pump running all season long to keep the surface from freezing. It’s also good to reduce the circulation of the pond water by either turning off the pump for the winter or preferably by placing the pump or the intake to the pump closer to the water outlet (waterfall or fountain) so it picks up water from mid-level of the pond. If you are keeping your equipment on, turn down the water flow. Keeping the water flowing through your biological filter allows the beneficial bacteria to live, which will make for good water quality early in the spring.
If the temperatures are more extreme, we recommend shutting your pond down to prevent hyper-cooling, which is when colder surface water mixes with warmer water that is on the bottom of your pond, where fish hide and hibernate, changing the overall temperature. Also, you run the risk of diverting water out of the pond and emptying it when the flowing water begins to form ice, especially on features like waterfalls. At a water temperature of 40°F or below, turn off and remove pond equipment.
CLEAN AND STORE EQUIPMENT
If you are choosing to close down the pond, we recommend cleaning the equipment and inspecting it to see if any components need to be fixed or replaced. Storing the equipment indoors safe from the elements will increase functionality and longevity. Make sure to check for water left in any device to avoid icing up and/or causing the body/housing to break if storing outdoors. For submersible pumps kept inside, it helps to place the pump in a bucket of water to keep the moving parts and seals wet. Cleaning your filters is important because a dirty filtration system is inefficient. It works harder, accomplishes less, and may clog and not work at all. Use this opportunity to clean everything, replace media if needed, and make sure it is in perfect working condition. Make sure they are drained, cleaned, and the features are working in top condition. Fix or replace any non-functioning pieces.
WINTER POND EQUIPMENT
Assuming your pond isn’t frozen yet, getting a deicer is recommended to ensure there will always be an open hole in the ice. One of the most important things to remember about winter is to keep the pond surface from freezing solid to allow the exchange of toxic gases to escape the water into the air. If the pond freezes solid and there are too many animals under the ice, carbon dioxide will build up in the pond and oxygen will become depleted leading to fish and plant kills.
FISH HABITS DURING THE WINTER
It’s usually best to leave fish in the pond during the winter, providing the depth of the pond is 18˝ or deeper and there is little to no water circulation. As cold weather approaches, monitor pond water temperatures daily. To successfully keep your fish or koi alive, you will need to change their feeding patterns when it gets to 60 degrees or below. Read our Fish Guide to keeping your fish healthy during cold months.