Here's what Homestead's water-gardening expert Dave Kemon recommends that pond-owners do in October.
Steps in Getting your Pond Ready for the Winter
- Drain your pond halfway down and scoop out all leaves and debris with a net. Fill the pond back up with fresh water and a de-chlorinator if you have chlorine in the water. (Stress Coat brand is recommended.)
- Bring in all UV filters, lights and clarifiers so they don't freeze and break. If your outside filters are large, drain all the water out of them and shut them down for the winter. Also, shut off all water pumps if you have concerns about the pond freezing them. Finally, add a pond de-icer or raise your pump halfway up.
- Cut back all water lilies and hardy bog plants, and bring tropical plants indoors. Remove all water hyacinths and water lettuce so that they don't rot in the pond.
- Cover the pond with netting but never lay it flat on the water, or falling leaves will push it down and turn the water dark. Always place your net like a tent using PVC pipes so the leaves fall to the side and frogs can still get up on the ledge.
- Switch fish food over to cold-weather food, and you can stop feeding them in early December. There will be enough organic matter in the pond to sustain them through the winter months.
Things NOT to Do
- Never bang on or try to smash the ice, as the vibrations can kill fish and frogs. Always use warm water or a de-icer to keep the ice from solidifying.
- Don't leave equipment, including UV filters, lights and clarifiers, outside in the cold temperatures. These filters have water in them that can freeze and crack.
- Never add chemicals to pond water in winter, as they are not designed to work in cold temperatures, so it's a waste of money and effort.
Things that Help you Winterize your Pond
- Micro-Lift Autumn/Winter Pond Prep. This two-part system helps accelerate the decomposition of leaves, scum, sediment and other organic matter during the fall and winter months, which keeps healthy bacteria going year-round.
- Pond-Zyme with Barley. This highly concentrated formula of beneficial bacteria breaks down fish waste and dead algae that cause cloudy water, sludge build-up and troublesome organic debris, while it digests leaves and grass clippings that may enter your pond. Through natural nutrient competition and enzymatic action, it reduces pond maintenance and keeps pond water clean and clear.
- Pond De-Icer or Pond Air Pump. Creating a small opening in the top of your pond where it normally would freeze over allows the release of toxic gasses from decomposing organic matter to escape and at the same time, allows oxygen to enter the pond.
- Cold Weather Fish Food. When the pond water's temperature drops, fish require a highly digestible cool-water diet. Cold-weather food is made with lesser amounts of protein but contains wheat germ, which is easily digested and also contains a higher level of fats. Only feed fish through November, as there is enough organic material in the pond to feed them in the winter.
- Pond Netting. Using a pond or leaf net in the fall and winter will help to prevent debris from entering the water and help maintain a cleaner, healthier environment for fish.