If you have any kind of water feature as part of your home landscape, it’s important to make sure it’s ready for winter weather. Water features and backyard ponds are beautiful and look natural, but without a few basic maintenance tasks, they may not survive until spring.
If you have a small, plug-in fountain, the easiest thing to do is disconnect it and drain it before freezing temperatures settle in. For any kind of large water feature, including garden fish ponds, a little more care and effort is needed to keep the fish healthy and the overall system functional.
Water Feature Cleaning
Set aside a fall afternoon to do a thorough cleaning of your backyard pond or water feature. Start by scooping out accumulated leaves and organic matter. That will make it easier to balance pH and oxygen levels during winter. If you have aquatic plants, cut back the fast growing ones.
Inspect the pump, filter and tubing to make sure they are all operating correctly. Take apart the connections to clean them as needed. Doing these tasks now will keep you from working in water during freezing weather.
Like all of us, outdoor water systems have a metabolism that slows down during winter. Your pond product supplier has cold water bacteria that can keep your water feature clean during cold weather. If your pond has fish, the bacteria will break down waste products and reduce ammonia and nitrate levels. Your fish will be healthier, despite the cold weather.
One of the easiest ways to keep your water feature clean during cold weather is to put a leaf net in place. If you do this before leaves start to fall, your pond cleaning chores will be much easier. If you are worried about birds getting your fish, leave the net in place for the winter, otherwise, you can remove it after all the leaves have fallen.
Open Water Surface
The surface of your backyard pond is where interaction between water and air occurs, the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. To keep fish healthy, this should continue during winter. In addition, a frozen water feature is likely to damage mechanical and plumbing equipment. For Ontario winters, an aerator will keep the pond surface from freezing for much of the winter. When more severe cold spells are forecast, use a de-icing heater to keep the water surface from freezing.
Fish Food for Winter
Fish need less food during cold weather. Too much food in the water makes it harder to keep the pond system balanced. As the temperatures begin to cool, gradually reduce how much food you give your fish. Also, you can switch to a cold water fish food; it’s easier for fish to digest. During constantly freezing weather, you may be able to stop feeding them altogether. Talk to your pond supply experts about how to best manage the type of fish you have with local weather conditions.
These simple steps will keep your water feature operating throughout the winter. Even though the pond will be less active, you can continue to enjoy it all winter long. Check in with Lane’s Landscape Supplies for the best products to get your property comfortably through the winter.