Though you may not want to think about it, colder weather is just around the corner. If you have a pond in your yard, taking the proper precautionary steps to get it ready for fall and winter can make a big difference. Not only can preparing your pond help to ensure that any fish or other wildlife stay safe, but it will make it much easier to reopen it in the spring.
So, what can you do to prepare your pond for the cold months? A little extra leg work now can make a big difference when warmer weather rolls back in! Let’s look at a few simple tips to use before the temperatures drop.
Clean the Pump and Filter
You’ll want to make sure to clear and remove anything that could freeze and crack during the cold winter months. A good place to start is by accessing both your pump and filter. Make sure they are free of any debris.
Depending on the type of pump you have, you will either need to prepare it for storage or drain the water. For example, if you have a waterfall or skimmer, you will need to completely disconnect the pump and allow the water to drain. If you have filters that contain UV or ion, simply disconnect them from the pump itself, and drain out the water.
Lowering the Water Level
You only need to lower the water level in your pump if it contains skimmers. Pond skimmers are meant to get rid of debris in your water and return clean, clear water back into the pool while aerating it.
If you do have a skimmer, lowering the water in your pond is necessary after you’ve disconnected your pump and filter. Thankfully, it’s an easier task than you might think. You’ll have to use a drain hose, along with a pump that can be submerged in order to drain out the water until it is below the opening of the skimmer.
You’ll also want to completely drain out the skimmer box of any water so it doesn’t freeze. If it does, it could expand inside the skimmer box, and cause it to crack or break. While you don’t necessarily need to remove the skimmer box from your pond, taking these precautions will make sure it works properly in the spring.
Clean and Replace When Necessary
When you have removed the filter and pump, it’s important to give them a thorough cleaning before storing them away. In order to do that, you can start with the media in the filter. That includes media pads and bio balls. If any of the media looks excessively worn or it’s in bad shape, it’s worth it to consider replacing it in the spring, rather than trying to stretch it out for another year. Remember, it needs to be clean and in good working condition in order to filter your pond properly.
The same goes for your pump.
After cleaning off any debris from your pump, take a look at its condition. If it has any damage or too much wear and tear, it could be time for a new one. The last thing you want, if your pump is in good condition, is for it to crack during the winter. You can prevent this by storing it safely in a bucket of water.
A good rule of thumb for any parts that have been removed from your pond is to keep them in a location where they won’t freeze, like an insulated garage or basement.
Clean Around Your Pond
Once you’ve taken out the necessary equipment and lowered the water level in the pond itself, it’s time to clean the surrounding area.
That starts with getting rid of excess debris both around and in the pond itself. Things like rotting leaves or aquatic plants, and even fallen twigs and sticks can make a hostile living arrangement for any fish or other creatures living in your pond and trying to survive the winter. With colder temperatures and water levels, they’ll need all the oxygen they can get. So, having a clean pond surface for them is important. You can also saturate the oxygen levels in the pond over the winter by investing in an aeration kit that will keep gases from getting trapped beneath the surface.
Speaking of aquatic plants, don’t assume they all need the same treatment. Things like water lilies will likely need to be removed and replaced in the spring. Other, hardier plants, can be trimmed back and will regrow once the weather gets warmer. Don’t be afraid to do your research on which aquatic plans can survive harsh temperatures, and learn what you can about proper care and maintenance.
Give Your Fish Something Easy to Digest
There are plenty of fish varieties that can survive in cold ponds throughout the winter, including:
But, it’s important to give them the proper nutrition in the colder months to keep up their strength and keep them sustained until they go dormant. The best thing you can do to promote healthy digestion in the winter is to introduce wheatgerm-based fish food. You can start to reduce the feedings as the temperatures drop, and once they near freezing, you can hold off on feeding again until spring. If this is your first year maintaining a pond, you’ll undoubtedly be surprised at how well your fish handle the winter months!
Thankfully, preparing a pond for the colder months doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can take a bit of time, and if you’re new to pond maintenance, doing your research can play an important role. But, take the time to complete these steps, and you’ll be able to enjoy your pond that much faster and with less hassle and stress when spring comes again.