As the days grow shorter and the temperature falls, there are a few tasks that are essential to get your pond ready for the long winter and help ensure you have healthy fish next spring. Here are some tips to help you winterize your pond.
Goldfish and koi are very hardy fishes; they can survive water temperatures as low as 0°C, which means they can survive in the pond during the winter as long as it doesn’t freeze solid and they have adequate water quality and oxygen. To help ensure healthy fish in the spring, follow these steps:
Hardy Water Lilies are easily wintered, just cut back the yellowing leaves and submerge the lilies to a depth where they will not freeze, usually 2 feet is sufficient.
Lotus can be wintered in the same manner as water lilies. Lotus will survive the winter as long as the tubers do not freeze solid.
Hardy plants can survive even if they freeze solid, as long as they stay in the pond. These plants include most irises, sweet flag, rushes, reeds grasses hibiscus and horsetails. They can be submerged to deeper depths, but they will also do well if left near the surface.
Marginally Hardy plants can survive the winter cold, but will die if their crown becomes frozen. These plants include: pickerel plant, hardy water canna, parrot feather, water clover, water parsley and cardinal flower. To winter these plants submerge them below the ice line.
Tropical Plants will not survive the winter outdoors. But many of these plants will grow easily in the house if brought inside before the first frost, placed in a container of water and given plenty of light. Plants such as Umbrella palm, papyrus, cannas, taro, bog lily, etc. can be brought inside and make great house plants
In most cases it is best to remove your pumps from the pond, clean it thoroughly and store it for winter. If you have a direct drive style pump (not a magnetic drive or asynchronous pump) then it should be stored in water and protected from freezing. This helps to keep the seals moist. If you have a magnetic drive or asynchronous pump they can be stored anywhere dry.
Waterfall style filters can be left in place but should be drained. It is best to remove the filter pads and bio-media, clean them thoroughly and store somewhere dry.
Pressurized filters should be drained and stored inside somewhere dry. It is best to remove the filter pads and bio-media, clean them thoroughly let them dry and store them back inside the filter.
UV lights should be disconnected, cleaned and stored somewhere safe where there is no chance of them falling and breaking the quartz sleeve and bulb.
We often get asked by customers if they should leave their waterfall running all winter. Here in central Ontario, I recommend that you shut down your waterfall and remove the pump from the pond. Temperatures here can get quite cold causing ice ‘dams’ to form which can divert water out of the pond, draining your pond before you know it. Another reason to shut down your waterfall is that you can chill your pond even more than normal by exposing the pond water passing over the waterfall weir to the much colder cold air. We will often leave our waterfalls running into early December so that we can get some nice ice formations like in the photos above.
Insulating the pond, is another way to prevent a thick ice formation. If your pond is not too large, you can insulate it by laying boards across the pond, cover them with plastic, and insulate it with styrofoam, a thick layer of leaves, straw or anything else that would provide insulation.