6 Steps to Maintaining an Outdoor Pond

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An outdoor pond can be a beautiful addition to any garden, and can truly be something to admire and enjoy during the warmer seasons when it is covered in colorful plants and fish thrive in their environment. However, when the cold temperatures of fall and winter begin to set in, a few measures need to be taken in order to protect your plants and fish from perishing and keep your water circulation system in tip-top shape.

Cleaning and preparing your pond for winter might not seem like the easiest or most pleasant of activities, which is why we have narrowed it down to 5 very simple steps you can follow to easily cover all aspects of maintaining a healthy pond in your garden.

  • Clean your pond: With the help of a pool cleaning net, scoop up all dead plants, leaves, flowers and debris. Rotting plants release gases that could kill the fish in your pond and make it impossible for plants to grow back in spring.
  • Prepare your plants: Remove tropical plants and floating plants, like water lilies, that could be sensitive to surface freezing, and plant them in pots indoors where the low temperatures won’t get to them. Cut back the foliage on the rest of the plants and submerge them deeper into the water below the ice zone to keep them protected.
  • Prepare your fish: A great way to start caring for your fish is to feed them high-protein diets during the summer so they can accumulate fat for colder seasons. Starting during fall and as temperatures begin to drop, you should start feeding your fish less and less frequently, preferably a wheat-germ-based diet, since colder temperatures will bring hibernation, and thus, slow down your fish metabolism. By the time temperatures are down to the forties, you should have stopped feeding them altogether. Make sure to turn off or reduce water circulation to gently move water from the bottom of the pond to the top (and not the other way around), helping oxygen to run through, but especially not to pull cold water down for fish to stay warm on the deeper areas of the pond where warmer water sets.
  • Avoid freezing: If you have a pond more on the shallow side, which tends to completely freeze over or usually gets a layer of ice covering the surface, you will need to purchase a deicer which breaks open a hole in the ice at the top for the gases that accumulate underwater to be released, otherwise, your fish and plants could suffocate.
  • Prepare your pumps and filters: First, clean out the filter from any accumulated debris. If your pond tends to freeze over, this will also affect the pumps and plumbing. The best solution is to turn off all pumps and filters during the winter for better protection of your equipment, and make sure you drain all plumbing and external pumps and filters so the water remaining inside doesn’t freeze and make them burst. Cold water has much more oxygen than warm water, plus plants and fish have gone into hibernation mode, so there won’t be a need for much water circulation, and a hole on the surface of the ice will release the gases trapped underwater.
  • Cover your pond: In case you don’t have fish, it might be a better idea to fully cover your pond with plywood and bags of leafs on top as insulation, or build a frame around your pond with PVC pipes and a clear plastic cover a few inches over the water that would help keep temperatures higher and allow sunlight to still pass through. If you are going to leave your pond uncovered for your fish and plants, install a leaf netting that will catch snow, falling leaves and even protect your hibernating fish from predators like raccoons and birds. Just wrap your netting around the pond and secure all edges. Other good alternatives are shade cloth or landscape fabric.

Keep your beautiful pond clean and protected for it to be ready to welcome new flowers and plants when spring makes its way in. Replant anything that was stored indoors, bring your submerged plants back up to their shallow levels, and reinstall all pumps and filters needed to prepare your pond for the warm and sunny seasons.

This article was written by Guizmo