Steps for Shutting Down your Pond for Winter

Oct 25th 2018

Steps for Shutting Down your Pond for Winter

Ponds require some extra attention when preparing for Fall and those cold Winter months ahead. Temperatures are dropping which means more and more questions on what to do next are arising. Before you panic, take a look at our steps, and things you should keep in mind, when prepping your pond for Winter.     [ Zone 5 ]

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. Winterizing steps are as follows: 

1. Clean Out your Pond: 

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

**Decomposing plant matter causes buildup of dangerous toxins and low oxygen levels in your pond, which can affect the health of your fish in the upcoming Winter months. 

2. Plant Care: 

Submerged Plants: Before the temperatures get too cold, Anacharis should be trimmed down to 2-4” tall. Hornwort can be left or thinned if it is taking over. Now is a good time to re-band them with lead weights if necessary. 

Floaters: Water hyacinth and lettuce are annuals that can be thrown away or added to your compost. 

Tropicals: Should be taken to a warmer, sunny location and treated like house plants until Spring. 

Hardy Marginals: Should be placed in its designated zones. Cut back the foliage as they go dormant or after water temperatures stay below 50° F. 

Hardy Water Lilies and Lotus: First trim off the dead foliage and then gently place them deep enough where the tuber will not freeze (20-24”). 

3. Clean/Remove your Pump & Filtration System: 

Remove and clean your pump. We recommend placing it in a bucket of distilled water and keeping it indoors, where it will not freeze, until Spring. Now is also a good time to clean your skimmer and bio falls. You can either throw out your filter media or rinse it off and store it indoors until Spring. UV bulbs need to be removed, cleaned and placed indoors. Pond lighting also needs to be removed and stored where it will not freeze, or can be lowered to below the freeze line (20-24”). 

4. Important Fish Care: 

If you have fish we recommend a few more steps to ensure happy healthy fish for in the Spring. 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 and stop feeding completely when your water temperature is below 50°F and expected to stay below 50°F. Late October to late November is typically when weather is consistently colder, but be sure to check your water temperature. 

**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. 

Aeration & De-Icer: You will want to keep a hole in the ice to keep your fish happy and healthy. Having a pond de-icer will keep a hole in the ice which allows harmful gases to escape. Having an aerator running with an air stone half the depth of your pond will provide your fish with the necessary oxygen they need to survive. 

**We strongly recommend that a pond de-icer be used with an aeration system, especially if you have fish larger than 8 inches. 

5. Cover your Pond: 

The final step is to cover your pond. You will want to keep your pond as clean as possible over these cold Fall and Winter months.  Netting your pond and securing it down around the perimeter helps to keep as much of those leaves and any other debris out of your pond. If you have fish, covering your pond also plays a role as an extra line of protection for those beloved fish. 

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

As always, we are here if you need any help or supplies for the Fall and Winter.

If you have a pond and don’t want to close it down yourself, our Pond Crew does provide Fall Shut Downs/Winterization Services. You can schedule yours by calling us at 330-896-9811.