Winter has been starting to show its face already this fall. A question that quickly surfaces at this time of the year is this: How do I prepare my water feature for winter?
There are two different options available to you . First you could shut it down for the winter or alternatively, you can keep it going with a little 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, be certain 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.
You should store your pump over the winter in a frost-free area, submersed in a bucket of water to prevent the seals from drying out and cracking. Most submersible pumps are oil-filled and, therefore, you should keep them from freezing solid. An additional way to protect your pump is to clear the impeller shaft of any debris before you store it for the winter.
If you do decide to shut down only your waterfall, you will need a pump to continue to oxygenate the 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 deicer or heater to keep the hole in the ice open. Be sure to choose a heater with a built-in thermostat to ensure that it only runs as needed and shuts off when the temperature reaches 10 degrees F. One note is that the floating heater does not replace the pump since the heater contributes nothing to oxygenation.
Lastly, you will need to remove the filtration media and clean it. We recommend that you store it in a heated location as well since allowing it to freeze solid will make your spring startup much more difficult.
Overall, winter shut-down is a fairly simple task, but make sure that you also consider your fish as you shut your pond down, so that they are still alive and well in the spring!
The big question remains: Should you should keep your pond running all winter or should you shut it down? Another question: Is it even possible to run a pond or water feature throughout winter’s freezing temperatures?
The quick answer to the second question is that yes, it is possible. It largely depends on you as the owner and your willingness to perform the necessary maintenance. Your primary responsibility would be to ensure that there is enough water to keep the pump(s) operating correctly.
Waterfalls are an extremely beautiful sight framed by ice and snow, but ponds with long or slow-moving streams can require extra care to prevent ice dams from forming and diverting the water out over the edge.
A second factor to consider is the size of your pump. Running continuously, a 2,000 gph pump can easily power through the winter without a problem. The moving water helps to maintain a hole in the ice around the waterfalls and in front of the skimmer.
As mentioned above, you also need to spare some thought for your finny friends. Because, really what does happen to them in the wintertime? Do they hibernate and wake up in the spring as you are restarting your pond? Is 2 feet enough of water to keep them alive without becoming solid fish-cicles?
Answer: Ornamental fish will do just fine in 2 feet of water as long as you provide some type of oxygenation and a hole in the ice so the harmful gases can escape. 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 the needed oxygen.
If you feel comfortable keeping your pond running during the winter, then go for it! There is nothing quite as beautiful as a winter pond in all its glory!
If you are in need of any supplies to winterize your pond, please contact us here at Zimmerman’s Mulch and we will help you in any way we can!