The arrival of the fall season indicates to us pond owners that it is time to begin preparing our ponds for the winter months. Water features in the landscape require special consideration. It is important that we take precautions to protect our landscapes from the harsh reality of winter. There are some basic guidelines to help your aquatic plants and finned friends weather the chill of Mother Nature. Following our simple fall pond care tips will ensure that your fish joyfully greet you again in the spring.
Install Protective Netting
Install a protective netting over your pond before the leaves start to fall. Your maintenance will be much easier. Collecting and discarding leaves will be as easy as rolling up the net come spring.
Unwanted Debris Removal
Be sure to remove any leaves or foliage from your pond’s surface before winter rolls into town if you decide against using a net. Leaves and foliage can produce toxic gasses that harm your fish when they decay. You don’t need to remove every single last leaf, but try to remove the majority.
Scrape Out Sunken Leaves
Leaves and foliage debris may build-up on the bottom of your pond. Be sure to remove this as well. Use a long handled pond net to scoop the debris out. Also, check your skimmer basket and remove any leaves that are still caught inside.
Utilize Cold Water Bacteria
Once temperatures drop below 50 degrees, begin adding cold water beneficial bacteria to your pond. Use twice weekly for two weeks, and then once per week until the water starts to freeze.
Trim Pond Plants
Trim back hardy marginal aquatic plants to 2″ above the water. This will keep dead foliage from drooping over into your pond.
Similarly, trim waterlily leaves and stems back to 2-3″ above the base of the plant. This will prevent their decomposition in your pond water.
Move Hardy Waterlilies
If you are housing waterlilies in a pot, do not bring them indoors. They require a period of dormancy. Instead, drop them into the deepest part of the pond to over-winter.
Relocate Tropical Waterlilies Indoors
Be sure to bring your tropical waterlilies indoors if you want to over-winter them. Keep them in 50 degree water or store them in sand. Be advised, even trained horticulturists lose a lot of tropical waterlilies when storing them indoors, so you might simply want to treat them as annuals.
Stop Feeding Fish
Use cold water fish food until temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Once temperatures drop below the 50 degree mark, stop feeding your fish altogether. Your fish need to get ready for a winter hibernation and can experience metabolic complications if you continue to feed them.