Winterizing Tips For Your Garden Pond

Posted on: 3 October 2016

With winter coming, it's important to make sure that your garden pond is properly prepared. Here are some tips to help you keep your pond healthy during the winter months.

1. Keep it clear.

As the leaves fall, be sure to clear them out before the water freezes. Leaves release tannic acid as they decompose, which will drastically affect the pH of the pool. Also, decomposing plant matter in the water increases the levels of methane gas as winter progresses. If you have fish in your pond, the gas is toxic to them and will reduce their chances of surviving until spring. In order to avoid this issue, use a light net and have it settle over the surface of the pond. This method will help prevent any stray leaves from settling in, and you can continue to clear stray debris easily.

Also, after the first frost, clear any annual plants like water lettuce and dead lily heads to keep them from sinking to the bottom. Perennial plants will go dormant, but they can also be removed and kept in warm pond water indoors until the the pond is ready to be revived in the spring.

2. Decide what to do with your fish. 

Deep water ponds are able to house fish all winter long. The fish will hibernate and come back to full life when winter leaves. However, shallower ponds in climates that have long stretches of very cold weather will be more hostile to fish. In this case, you will need to bring your fish inside and keep them in a pond water aquarium with some plants and features from your original pond. If you do leave your fish in the pond, check the water periodically to make sure it is still aerating -- if the surface freezes, you'll need to break up the ice in one part of the pond, use a de-icer to prevent further freezing, and use an aerator to make sure your fish are still getting oxygen from the water. 

3. Protect your pond liner and pump.

The best thing to do for your pond pump is to keep it deep enough that it runs all winter long in cold but unfrozen water. Keeping the pump running is what will keep it in good shape. If you turn it off and let it sit, water can freeze in the pump and expand, causing the pump components to break. Running the pump will also help keep oxygen levels high when fish are remaining in your pond. If your pond is shallow, it's best to drain it entirely and cover your liner with a tarp to protect it from sharp ice shards. Prevent people from walking on the liner to reduce to risk of damage. Move your pump and accessories inside until spring. 

4. Freshen the water.

As you're prepping the pond for winter, it's a good time to bring new fresh water to the pond before the big freeze (if you're not fully draining it). After removing leaves, debris, and the sludge that comes from a summer of algae growth, partially drain the pond and add new water in. The new water will be full of fresh oxygen and help promote fish health during the long months ahead. After filling the pond, the water will be murky from the upset. However, if the water is still murky after a day or so, more fresh water is needed. Continue to partially drain and refill the pond until the pond is partially clear the day after. 

Your pond can remain healthy all winter long if you take the right maintenance steps. For more information on pond maintenance and liners, contact a manufacturer in your area, such as Billboard Tarps