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women skating on frozen pond

Backyard water features provide so much enjoyment during the summer months: colorful koi provide hours of serenity, and the gentle burble of the water is endlessly soothing!

But what about when the weather cools down? Your pond doesn’t have to become a desolate hole in the ground during the winter…

Freezing temperatures can create beautiful ice formations, and even in winter, there are few things more picturesque than a water feature.

With any luck, we won’t experience those freezing temperatures for quite a while, but fall is the perfect time to prepare for the coming cold season.

Here are four steps to follow for painless pond winterization.

Step 1: Clean your pond thoroughly

Get the muck out! Especially if your pond is located near other elements in your landscape, there’s a good chance that falling leaves and other debris will have gotten into the pond as autumn has set in.

You may also need to change out your water if it’s discolored or dirty, but it’s actually a safer bet to leave water be, if possible. Replacing the current contents of your pond with new water may be too much for fish to handle before the weather cools down much more.

Step 2: Prepare your plants

If you’ve got any tropical plants in your pond, you’ll want to remove those from the pond and either take care of them indoors during the winter or treat them as annuals and replace them when the weather warms up the following year.

But hardy aquatic plants can actually be left in the water, moved to the deepest part of the pond so they’re at the smallest risk of freezing.

Cut those plants back as far as you can, removing excess leaves. Flowers and other parts of the plants will keep them from decomposing and clogging up your pond.

Step 3: Create air flow

Whether you leave your pump and filtration system running or disconnect and store it for the winter is up to you. But you’ll need to find a way to keep oxygen coming in and help gases escape that have formed at the bottom of the pond as a result of your fish, decomposing plants, and more.

One way to do this is by purchasing a heater for your pond, not to warm all the water in the pond (you don’t need to provide a spa for your koi!) but to keep one spot on the surface of the water warm enough that it doesn’t freeze.

You may also want to purchase an air pump to keep the air moving if you’ve opted to disconnect your pump and filtration system.

Step 4: Protect your fish

Did you know that fish hibernate?

Once the weather drops below a certain temperature, they need a lot less food and their heartbeats slow to about one beat — per minute!

To keep fish alive during the winter, there should be a spot deeper than two and a half feet so that fish can descend to that low point where the water is less likely to freeze. If you have a smaller, more shallow fish pond, buying a small heater may do the trick to keep the water warm enough for them.

As long as you’ve left that hole for oxygen to get in and other gases to escape, your fish should be able to ride out the winter just fine.

According to Aquascape, Inc., about seventy percent of pond owners whose climates get cold in the winter end up just shutting their ponds down. But if you want to maintain the aesthetic beauty of a water feature in your landscape throughout the winter, it’s simple to take the necessary steps and keep it running during cold weather.

Need help? The water feature experts at Neave Aquatics are on hand to walk you through winterizing your pond. It’s a job you’ll want to do right to protect that investment you’ve made!

If you’re in the Hudson Valley, call us at (845) 463-0592. If you’re in Westchester County, call (914) 271-7996; from Connecticut, dial (203) 212-4800. Or, fill out our simple web form, and we’ll contact you about setting up your free consultation with Neave Group.

 Image credit: Minnesota Historical Society

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