Ponds can be amazing backyard features, but if they are not closed properly before freezing, expensive equipment can be damaged and delicate plants and animals may be lost. By taking the right steps to safely and easily close your pond, you can save time, effort and money on pond maintenance, improve the survival rates of plants and fish and be ready to enjoy your pond more quickly in spring.
8 Easy Steps to Close Your Pond
While every pond's needs vary and your exact closing procedures and timing will depend on your region's climate and overall pond design, the basic steps to close your pond include…
Slow Feeding When Temperatures Drop
As the autumn temperatures drop, fish feeding should also slow down. Gradually change to fish food with less protein, and decrease feeding frequencies as fish activity slows. When water temperatures are below 50 degrees, the fish will begin to hibernate and all feeding should stop.
Trim and Move Aquatic Plants
While delicate pond plants should be considered annuals and will not survive the winter, hardy varieties can be overwintered in deep water. Before moving them to the deepest part of the pond, trim dead or damaged foliage to minimize decay that will contaminate the water.
Clean the Pond
To keep your fish and plants healthy through the winter and make it easier for the pond to regenerate in spring, clean it thoroughly in fall. This includes removing excess debris and sludge, trimming adjacent landscaping and making any necessary repairs.
Clear Away Leaves
When leaves fall into the water, they gradually decay and ammonia levels will rise. If the water has a high ammonia concentration, it can be toxic and even fatal to fish. Skim leaves off the pond regularly, or install a net at least 15-18 inches above the water to catch leaves.
Shut Off Moving Water and Pumps
As fish slow down in fall, it is time to shut off any waterfalls, fountains or bubblers and remove the pond's pump to store it for winter. The warmest water will be at the bottom of the pond where fish are hibernating, and continuing to move the water in winter would cool the pond and endanger its fish and plants.
Remove, Clean and Store Filters
When water is no longer moving in the pond, filters no longer need to be used. Remove them and be sure they are thoroughly cleaned. Make any repairs or plan for replacement or upgraded filters as necessary so they can be reinstalled in spring.
Install a De-Icer
While fish have very low metabolism in winter, they still need to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen to keep from suffocating. If the pond freezes, the ice on the surface will block that gas exchange and kill the fish, so a floating de-icer is essential to keep a small portion of the surface liquid. Do not use toxic chemicals, however, and do not de-ice the entire surface, which would cool the water too much and be dangerous to the fish.
Store Equipment Properly
After the pond is prepared for winter, store pumps, filters, cleaning gear and other pond equipment properly to keep it in good condition through the winter. If delicate plants or fish must be overwintered indoors, take appropriate steps to keep them healthy in their temporary accommodations.
By taking the proper steps to close your pond in fall, your fish and plants will be safer, your pond will be in better condition and you will be able to restart the pond easier in spring for even more enjoyment.