Winterizing Water Features – Don’t Wait for a Freeze

 
Winterizing water features like this small pond and waterfall require basic seasonal attention to detail. With care and planning they’ll provide years of enjoyment.

Winterizing water features like this small pond and waterfall require basic seasonal attention to detail. With care and planning they’ll provide years of enjoyment.

 

Winter is inevitable in Madison and now’s the time to be winterizing water features to avoid last-minute stress. A routine pond maintenance plan for late season prepping for ponds, pond-less waterfalls, fountains or other water features is easy to create. With a little care and forethought in the fall you can protect your installation and extend its life.

Steps for Winterizing Water Features

Preparing a water feature for the harsh Wisconsin elements is mostly common sense. Steps include:

  1. Clean it – falling leaves and debris from summer plants finds its way into ponds and fountains where they can clog pumps and filters. Keeping the area around a water feature clean in the fall helps keep these nuisance elements out of the system. Once the pump is shut down, make sure to get all the debris off the bottom of the pond – even if you don’t completely drain the pond. Thoroughly clean the pump and filter system, too, so there’s nothing left inside that will decay or harden to form a blockage when it’s time to turn the system on again.

  2. Protect it – putting a system of netting over the pond will keep late season leaves from falling in and reduce the work you’ll have to do next spring. Smaller water features like fountains and urns need to be protected from freezing so make sure they’re completely drained.

  3. Plants and Fish – If you have fish in your pond and it is at least 3 feet deep at some point and you keep it from freezing over completely, they can overwinter in the pond. Winter temperatures will cause fishes’ metabolism to slow, which means they need less food. Use a low-protein food and feed them less. Find out which of your aquatic plants are hardy in Madison – a professional from Proscapes can provide all the information you need. Cut back hardy plants and place them in the deepest part of the pond. Non-hardy plants will have to be replaced in the spring or you can try moving them indoors.

Pond Maintenance – Focus on the Pump

 
Water features that don’t have a traditional pond still require the same care included in a regular pond maintenance program.

Water features that don’t have a traditional pond still require the same care included in a regular pond maintenance program.

 

No matter what size, shape or style water feature you have, the pump is the most critical element large or small. When it comes to winterizing water features there are two options for the pump – leave it in place, remove it until spring.

Benefits on leaving the pump in the water feature all year long include:

  • Keeping water circulating continually helps to keep it from freezing – aquatic life in a pond benefit from added oxygen and warmer water.

  • Gases building beneath a covering of ice can be toxic to plants and animals – water moving even under ice disperses the gases.

  • Pre-formed ponds can be damaged by shifting ice and keeping the pump working helps to reduce ice buildup.

Perceived benefits of removing the pump for the winter include:

  • If there are no fish or delicate plants, turning off the pump makes pond maintenance easier.

  • If you plan to empty your pond there’s no need for the pump.

  • Water features have small reservoirs for water so they are more likely to freeze and crack putting the pump and other elements at risk so draining them is the best advice.

  • While water feature pumps use very little electricity, turning them off will reduce energy consumption.

  • Winter is the time of year when mice and other pests are most likely to damage power cords, etc.

Holiday Decorating

Depending upon the size and shape of your water feature you may want to cover it with a tarp or wrap it with a protective blanket for the winter. Or, you may want to include it in your holiday decorating plans. Creative uses of evergreen boughs, holiday greenery and lighting can give a fountain, urn or pondless waterfall’s rock formation a completely new charm. Snow can also provide a unique sculpted look to your fountain or decorative piece. A garden fountain looks amazing strung with tiny lights and strewn with reindeer moss, pinecones and other natural elements.

Call Upon Professionals for Tips on Winterizing Water Features

Call Proscapes LLC today and learn how a routine pond maintenance and water feature care plan comes together specifically for your space and lifestyle. Contact us at (608) 244-6464 or email us for a professional’s approach to seasonal pond maintenance and tips for winterizing water features in Madison.