Winter is here! This leaves us lots of small chores and tasks, some of which it’s very wise to not put off for very long. If you have a water feature, chief among them is to make sure you’ve taken the time and the small effort to winterize it and protect if from the season’s elements. Winterizing your water feature equals a big potential savings both in money and even in time later down the road. Believe me minutes spent now could save you hours come spring!
Let’s take a look at some easy tips to get your water feature ready for winter. We’ll keep them pretty broad so they’ll cover small features all the way up to the medium end of things at 200 gallons or so. Most of us fall within this range.
Here we go!
1. Keep the Water Moving. This is very important, especially if you have fish. Most people will either keep their pumps at a maximum flow to ensure big water movement and avoid it freezing over or warm a small area of their feature for the fish (if any) to take up residence in. This should keep you fro freezing over totally and help protect your water feature.
2. Take out the Plants. Removing plants is a great idea for the winter and I’d suggest taking care of this at first frost.
3. Clean, Clean, Clean. I know, cleaning your water feature is no fun but it’s also absolutely necessary. Start with any large debris and then work your way down to the small stuff. Check carefully and see if there’s algae either on the bottom or sides of the feature or on or near the pumps (if any.) Don’t worry if you do find algae, it just means you’re going to have to follow through with a algae treatment or two. These treatments are pretty inexpensive and all you do is follow the simple directions on the bottle. Another one of the possible options is to drain the feature (if practical) and totally scrub it down and then refill before freezing weather comes in but this depends on your individual water features size and complexity as well as your own time and desire to deep clean.
4. Pump Removal. OK should you choose not to keep the water moving (tip 1) it’s very important to remove your pump or it will freeze and break. This will turn into a very big avoidable expense as water gets into the inside of your pump and ruins the electric work. Whether you choose to follow tip 1′s advice or tip 4 here is really up to you, and the aesthetics of your outdoor area but please, for your winter garden’s sake, do one or the other!
5. Prune Surrounding Trees. This will save you lots of time having to clean your water feature every day. Prune your surrounding trees so they are constantly dropping debris into you feature. You’ll look nice and not have to worry about your pump clogging should it still be running or other issues. Spring will go much smoother as well!
6. Clean up Brown Water. If you didn’t act fast enough with cleaning out your water area and removing debris / pruning your surrounding trees you may notice your water taking on a hint of brown. Follow the steps above first and then add activated carbon to the water to quickly get it sparkling again.
7. Consider a De-Icer. If your area is known to become super cold a floating de-icer is a good option to protect your water feature in winter. These are very cool (no pun intended) floating in the water and automatically turning on when it reaches a freezing temperature, turning back off once the water is heated. A great way to save money as well as ensure your feature isn’t damaged.
8. Keep the Fish Happy! If you do have fish there’s no need to feed them all winter as they’ll naturally enter a sort of hibernation. In fact once the temp gets around 55F if you do keep feeding them you can even endanger their lives! So cut them off at that point. What you will need to consider is adding a small re-circulating pump to keep the water oxygenated for them. This will also keep a whole in the ice, if any, ensuring a gas exchange and live, happy fish.
So as you can see there’s lots of winter excitement to be had keeping your water feature protected from the elements! Did I miss any tips you do every year? Let me know I’d love to hear them!