At Good Earth Water Gardens, we’re enjoying the gorgeous fall weather. But it’s not too early to think about winterizing your water feature. In the coming weeks, take the time to get your fountain, waterfall, or pond ready for colder temps. A little work can protect your equipment and make springtime a breeze.
With the milder winters we’ve been having in Kansas City, it can be easy to think that water features will be just fine, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us – and with many water features they will be just fine. But if you have winter travel plans or just feel more comfortable shutting your water feature down, here’s what we recommend.
Winterizing your pond
- Quit feeding your fish. Watch your water temperature and stop feeding fish when the temp is 55 degrees. The fish will hibernate over the winter. They’ll do just fine as long as your pond doesn’t ice over entirely. Start feeding your fish in the spring once water temperatures hit 55 again.
- Remove plants. Cut back marginals to just below the water level. If you have lilies, cut them three inches above the rhizome (it’s the part that’s like a bulb). Pull up the annuals around your pond. Any plant material that you don’t remove will decompose in the pond and turn into muck. Speaking of which …
- Prevent muck. Clean all the plant debris out of the bottom of your pond. Then, put a simple net over your water feature. This can prevent a lot of debris from falling into the water. Not only can debris be icky now, but it can add extra nutrients to the water and cause potential algae blooms. That can mean an extra-gross pond next spring. If you have algae, use a cold-water bacteria. It will continue to break down nutrients over the winter, which will mean less work for you come spring.
- Drain water lines. You know how hoses can freeze during the winter and mess with your plumbing? The same is true for your pond. Drain these lines before the first frost so that any water left has time to evaporate.
- Remove the pump. If you’re winterizing your feature, we recommend removing the pump and storing it in a bucket of water. Put this bucket in a frost-free location like your basement or heated garage. It’s important to keep the gaskets inside your pump from drying out. When water pumps freeze, the pressure from ice can cause cracks in the casing. That can allow water into the interior of the pump – you know, where the sensitive electronics live. That’s bad.
- Keep a hole in the ice. For ponds, it’s important to keep a hole in the ice during extreme cold temperatures. Excess ammonia and other toxic gases can build up under the ice and impact water quality. This can kill your fish. We recommend getting a floating heater, a bubbler pump, or a heavy-duty pond aerator to keep an area in the ice open.
Winterizing pondless waterfalls and fountains
In our climate, you can usually run your water feature during the winter. You just have to make sure the water level stays high enough. Otherwise, ice will displace water in the system. Running your feature in colder temps can create some really interesting ice formations. And they’re even more incredible if your feature has lighting. However, if you’d feel better winterizing your water feature, it’s simple enough:
- Drain away. Get all the water out.
- Remove the pump. Again, ice = water + electronics = bad.
- Cover it up or move it out. A waterproof cover can protect your fountain. Or, you can move it inside for the winter. This isn’t always an option for heavy or unwieldy fountains, but a cover will do the trick.
The biggest thing to remember with winterization? When it doubt, ASK! At Good Earth Water Gardens, we’re always just a phone call away. We can outline your winterization game plan or do the work for you. Give us a call today at 913-749-8090 or contact us online.