Now that the cooler weather is here it is time to do some end of season pond maintenance. You'll be happy to know that the preparations required do not consume a lot of time and certainly don't threaten to take over an entire weekend. However, it you prefer to leave the project to someone else, most pond installers can usually be hired to do it for you. But if you are up to getting your hands dirty here are a few things that you'll want to take into consideration when preparing for winter.
First, decide whether you want to run your waterfall through the winter months. If your pump moves 2000 gallons of water per hour (gph), it can be run throughout the winter as long as it is run continuously. You must be careful with ponds that have long or slow moving streams. In such cases, ice dams can form and divert the water over the edge of the stream. In our area there are a few extremely cold days each winter when you'll need to keep an eye on your water and watch for any ice dams that may have formed. Also, remember that even in cold weather your pond will experience some evaporation.
Hardy bog and marginal plants will need all of the dead leaves and plant materials trimmed down one to two inches above the water level. It's up to you whether you do this in the fall or the spring. Some people leave these plants over the winter to add interest to the winter pond-scape.
Maintenance can save you time and money come spring when the weather warms up. Happy pondering.If your plants are at the correct depth, any hardy aquatic plants will do just fine where they are. Hardy lilies deeper than 12 inches will over-winter in the pond with no difficulty. Simply cut the dead lily leaves and stalks, leaving two to three inches at the base of the plant. Try not to leave plant debris in the bottom of the pond. It will decay over the winter and create toxic gases and plenty of organic food for algae when spring comes.Now that our water temperature is dropping it is time to cut back and then stop feeding your fish. Your fish have been putting on extra weight so that they can winter over without eating. Your fish will do just fine all winter in your pond if you have 1.5 to 2 feet of water. During the winter, organic debris in the bottom of the pond continues to decompose, giving off gasses that are harmful to fish. So keep a hole in the ice to prevent the buildup of these gasses. Although your fish are sleeping their way through the winter they still need oxygenated water for their survival. There is a new alternative to running the waterfalls or using a re-circulating pump in your pond. The new device is called a winter return de-icer. Using your current pump, this item threads on to the check valve and extends over the side of your skimmer back into the pond. As the water is pumped through the return and back into the pond, it projects a heavy stream that keeps a hole open in the ice.