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Fall To-Do List


It’s hard to believe that summer is over and fall is now upon us! This is a beautiful time of the year, as nature begins to prepare itself for the long cold winter months ahead. Sometimes it can be confusing trying to figure out what needs to be done to your pond to get it ready for winter, so we’ve simplified the Fall Maintenance Process to help you out.
  • As leaves fall from nearby trees, you’ll probably have to empty the debris net every day to keep up with the influx of leaves. Another option to prevent a buildup of leaves is to install some Pond Netting, which comes in several different sizes to fit your pond.
  • Have an Aerator on hand for the cold snaps that are sure to come. Aeration is very important during winter months, as aeration helps to keep a small hole open in the surface of the pond to aid in degassing.
  • Switch over to feeding your fish a cold water fish food, such as our Cold Water Fish Food. Their digestive systems are in the process of shutting down, so a food formulated for the colder temperatures will help them to make the transition.
  • Lastly, take some extra measures to ensure your aquatic plants make it through the winter months with a ThermoPlanter, available at The Pond Store.

Pond Winterization – Part I


One of my water features

Let me start off by saying that winterization is not necessary for all ponds. Here in WA where I live, we leave our ponds running all year. Climate is a big factor when determining whether a pond has a real need for such seasonal maintenance. Debris cleanup from the fall may be inevitable in any part of the country, but only ponds that experience ice-cover over long periods of time will require winterization. 

 

When should pond winterization be done?Winter preparation should be started after the trees have ceased dropping their leaves in the late fall. Properly winterizing a pond at this time of year will make it easier for an annual clean-out the following spring. 

What should be done for ponds with heavy tree cover? 

Since a mechanical skimmer filter won’t catch all of the surface debris, and not all ponds have a skimmer filter, the use of a net may be necessary to remove the leaves and organics left in the pond during the fall. Debris left to rot in the pond will eventually decompose, producing gases that can be harmful to the fish. Physically removing the leaves and sticks from the pond will make a spring clean-out easier, and may even save the lives of a few dormant fish. 

Ponds surrounded by thick trees may require more maintenance during the fall, when the trees lose the majority of their leaves. Sometimes a net can be placed over the pond to keep leaves out. Be sure to check the pond’s debris net or basket daily during this time of the year to ensure the system functions properly. 

What about the plants? 

Cutting back plant material in the fall will prevent organic debris from decomposing in the water over the winter. Hardy bog and marginal plants should have all of the dead leaves and foliage trimmed down to 2″ above water level, and hardy lily leaves and stems should be cut back, leaving approximately 2-3″ at the base of the plant. Tropical plants can be brought inside for winter, or treated as annuals and replaced each season.

Tip: The ThermoPlanter is a great way to overwinter tropicals and lilies.

My pond running during the winter

Can a pond run throughout the entire winter? 

  

Maintenance is usually the determining factor in whether or not a pond owner keeps their pump running in the winter. The primary maintenance responsibility at this time is to make sure there is enough water for the pump(s) to operate properly. 

During the winter months, the usual water supply options are not available. Outdoor water spigots and automatic water fill valves should be turned off to prevent pipes from freezing and cracking. Therefore, pond owners who run their systems during the winter will have to find an alternate water source to replenish their pond. Water can be supplied via a hose run from inside the house or by making multiple trips with a five-gallon bucket. Generally speaking, it’s not uncommon to have to go out a few times a month during the winter to “top-off” the pond. 

Won’t the waterfall freeze solid? 

Pump size is important when determining a waterfall’s ability to operate during the winter. A pump that provides at least 2,000 gph can be operated throughout the winter without a problem, as long as it runs continuously.  Moving water will usually keep a hole open in the ice around the waterfalls and in front of the circulation system. However, repeated days in sub-zero temperatures may lead to excessive ice build-up and can cause the system to operate improperly. If the flow of water into the circulation system is unable to keep up with the pump because of ice build-up, it may be necessary to shut the system down. The system can be run again once the ice is melted and normal water flow is restored. 

Tip: If the pump is turned off during a heavy freeze, be sure to remove any backflow obstacles from the circulation system. Otherwise, the remaining water will freeze solid, and although this may not hurt flexible PVC pipe, ice may remain into the spring, preventing the start-up of the pond.