A Checklist for Preparing your Pond for Winter: Follow These Steps to Close your Pond for the Season

Posted by Bill Hoffman on Nov 3rd 2020

A Checklist for Preparing your Pond for Winter: Follow These Steps to Close your Pond for the Season

Ponds require some extra attention when preparing for fall and those cold winter months ahead. Temperatures start dropping which means more and more questions on what to do next are arising. Remember, doing some fall pond maintenance means there will be less work in the spring to get your ecosystem balanced. Before you panic, take a look at our steps, and things you should keep in mind, when prepping your pond for Winter. [ Ohio = Zone 5 ]


Pond Winterizing Steps are as Follows: 


1. Clean Out your Pond: Decomposing plant matter causes buildup of dangerous toxins and low oxygen levels in your pond, which could affect the health of your fish. 

  • Remove any dead plants, leaves, algae and other large debris from your pond. 


2. Plant Care: Different pond plants require different care. 

  • Submerged Plants: Hornwort should be trimmed down to 2-4 inches tall. 
    • **TIP: You will want to do this before water temperatures get too cold. Now is a good time to re-band them with weights if necessary. 
  • Floaters: Water hyacinth and lettuce are treated like annual plants. 
    • They can be thrown away or added to your compost. 
  • Tropical Marginals: Should be taken to a warmer, sunny location and treated like house plants until Spring. 
  • Hardy Marginals: Should be placed in its designated zone and the foliage cut back as they go dormant - or after water temperatures stay below 50° F. 
  • Hardy Water Lilies and Lotus: First trim off dead foliage and then gently place them deep enough where the tuber will not freeze (18-24”). 

3. Remove and Clean your Pump and Filters: Shutting off and removing your pump should not happen until your water temperatures are between 40-50°F and expected to keep getting colder. You should also be done feeding your fish for the year. 

  • We do recommend pulling your pump from the pond. 
    • Store it in a bucket of distilled water and keeping it indoors, where it will not freeze - garages or basements work well. 
    • Learn more about running a pond pump in winter here.
  • Now is also a good time to clean your skimmer and bio falls. 
  • Remove your pond filters and any filter media to rinse thoroughly and let dry out until spring; or throw out your filter media and replace it next season. 
  • UV Bulbs need to be removed, cleaned and placed indoors. 
  • Pond Lighting can be removed and stored indoors or can be lowered to below the freeze line (18-24”). 

4. Important Fish Care: If you have fish we recommend additional steps to ensure happy healthy fish for in the Spring. **TIP: It is a good idea to test your water, before you shut down, to make sure your levels are where they need to be. 

  • Fish Food: 
    • Feed your fish a Cold Weather Fish Food (low protein) when your water temperature is between 50°-70°F.
    • Stop feeding fish completely when your water temperature is below 50°F and expected to stay below 50°F. 
      **Do not worry. This is not cruelty to your beloved fish: 
      • The fish digestive and immune system slow down as they prepare for semi-dormancy during the cold winter months. A sudden change in weather to colder temperatures just after a heavy feeding can actually harm or even kill fish by late Spring. If your fish are still hungry, they will find algae and other things to sustain them until Spring if necessary.  
    • Late October to late November is typically when weather is consistently colder in Ohio - but be sure to check your water temperature (keeping an eye on those pond thermometers). 
  • Pond De-Icer and Aerator: 
    • You need to keep a hole in the ice to keep your fish happy and healthy. 
    • pond de-icer (some people refer to this as a pond heater) will keep a hole in the ice to allow harmful gases to escape. 
    • Having an aerator running, with an air stone half the depth of your pond, will provide your pond fish with the necessary oxygen they need to survive under the ice. 
    • **We strongly recommend that a pond de-icer be used with an aeration system - especially if your goldfish or koi are larger than 8 inches. 

Learn what to do with pond fish in winter with this blog.


5. Cover your Pond: You will want to keep your pond as clean as possible over these cold Fall and Winter months. Many ask; "Should I cover my pond in winter?" Our answer, YES. 

  • Netting your pond and securing it down around the perimeter helps keep as much of those leaves and other debris out of your pond as possible. 
  • If you have fish, covering your pond also plays a role as an extra line of protection from hungry predators looking to fill their bellies before the cold weather hits. 

Stop by Hoffman’s Water X Scapes where our pond experts can answer all your water feature and pond questions and help you choose the proper pond supplies and accessories. If you have a pond (or water feature) and do not want to close it down yourself for winter, our Pond Crew provides Fall pond Shut Downs and Winterizing Services. Be sure to schedule your appointment early! 


Here is Atlantic Water Gardens video on "How to Winterize your Pond" 


TIP: If you are shutting your pond down for winter, shutting off and removing your pump should not happen until your water temperatures are between 40-50°F and expected to keep getting colder. You should also be done feeding your fish for the year. 


Must Have Seasonal Pond Items:

Pond Water Thermometers |  Pond Water Test Strips |  Cold Weather Fish Food |  Pond Aeration Systems |  Pond Netting & Nets |  De-Icers (Pond Heaters)


Shop All Pond Winterization Supplies Online HERE


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