Winter has been starting to show its face already this fall. One question that quickly comes is, how do I prepare my water feature for winter? There are two different options that you have. First of all you can shut it down for the winter and secondly, you can keep it going with a little of winter maintenance. We will explore both options.
If you decide to shut your water feature down for the winter, the process isn’t that difficult. First you need to make sure that the pond is free of leaves and that the plants have been taken care of. Then you can remove the pump from the pond so the pump doesn’t freeze in the cold weather.
You should store your pump over the winter in a frost free area, submersed in a bucket of water. If the pump dries out the seals will dry out and start cracking, creating more problems for you. Most submersible pumps are oil-filled and so they suggest that you keep them from freezing solid. One more way to help protect your pump is to clear the impeller shaft of any debris before you store it away for the winter.
A lot of people decide to shut their pond down over winter so they don’t need to worry about ice dams or pay for the cost to run a larger pump. If you decide to shut your waterfall down, you will need to keep the water oxygenated like the waterfall does in the summer for your pond. You can place a pump that circulates at least 150 gallons of water per hour in your pond close to the surface of the water. This will make the water bubble about an inch above the surface, keeping a hole in the ice and oxygenating the water until the temperature drops below 10º F.
If the temperature stays below 10º F for long periods of time, you will need to add a floating de-icer or heater so the hole in the ice stays open. You will want to make sure that you get a heater that has a thermostat on it so it only runs when it is needed instead of running all winter including days when it is warmer than 10º. The floating heater will need to be used with a pump because it doesn’t stir up the water, keeping oxygen it in.
Lastly, you will need to remove the filtration media and clean it up. We recommend that it is stored somewhere that it won’t freeze like your garage or shed. If you let it out all winter it will freeze solid making it harder to get your pond up and going in the spring.
Overall, it is a fairly simple task, but make sure that you pay attention to you fish when you shut your pond down, so they are still alive and well till spring!
The big question still is whether you should keep your pond running all winter or if you should shut it down. Is it even possible to run a pond or water feature all winter when it is freezing temperatures?
It largely depends if you as the owner are willing to do the maintenance to keep it going. Your primary responsibility would be to make sure that there is enough water to keep the pump(s) operating correctly.
Waterfalls are very beautiful when they are covered with ice and snow during the winter months, but you need to be careful with ponds that have long or slow moving streams as ice dams can form and divert the water out over the edge.
The second factor you need to consider to keep your pond running is the size of your pump. If running continuously, a 2,000 gph pump can easily run throughout the winter without a problem. The moving water helps to keep a hole in the ice around the waterfalls and in front of the skimmer.
The other thing you need to be careful about are your fish friends. What will happen to them in the wintertime? Do they hibernate and wake up in the spring when you are ready to get your pond going again? Is 2 feet enough of water to keep them alive without becoming solid fish-cicles? Ornamental fish will do just great in 2 feet of water, provided you provide some type of oxygenation. They also need to have a hole in the ice so the harmful gases can escape without hurting your fish. It is best to put a waterfall pump in a basket or surround it with stones to prevent it from clogging up. Then place the pump on the second or third shelf of your pond so the water can be broken by the aeration. The agitation from the pump will keep the surface from freezing and will give your fish some oxygen.
If you feel comfortable keeping your pond running during the winter, that go for it! There is nothing quite as beautiful as a winter pond in all its glory!
If you need any supplies to keep winterize your pond please contact us as we can help you out.