Garden Ponds: Winter Maintenance Made Easy
Many homeowners, when considering the installation of a Garden Pond are fraught with unnecessary concerns, mostly attributable to maintenance issues. Indeed, some informed knowledge is required to ensure a living ecosystem remains vibrant, however an advanced degree is hardly a prerequisite. Given the free flowing exchange of information via the Internet, a few hours invested in self enlightenment can provide nearly any answer imaginable in a timely fashion.
From personal experience the best source of information is your local Garden Pond Dealer/Supplier. It would make perfect sense to seek advice from a professional who not only is knowledgeable of the subject, but also educated in processes, materials and available products. Many times the same person who sold/installed your Garden Pond is the savior of any pond dilemmas. A glowing customer testimonial is worth a million dollars in advertising to a business, and most will more than accommodate any inquiries.
For the purpose of Winter maintenance in Garden Ponds, the initial work begins in Fall. Frequently during Fall months, clean and remove any debris – falling leaves, dying plants, dead bugs, etc. Fall is the perfect time to apply pond netting given the volume of falling vegetation. A matter of particular care should be organic matter on the pond bottom. It is required to do so more than once, and is easily forgotten in value of importance. Check the outside of a raised pond for leaks, and make any necessary repairs before it gets too cold. Fall is a good time to perform a partial water change,ensure fresh new water is the same temperature as the existing pond water, add it slowly over time so as not to disturb the delicate water balance. Also examine any wildlife in the pond for disease or illness and if deemed appropriate, remove them.
As Winter approaches and the water temperature reaches 40 degrees, quit feeding any fish. Remove the Pond Pump and store it as per manufacturers recommendations. Clean pump filters, remove filter media and perform any other suggested pump maintenance. Install Pond aerators or de-icing systems to prevent water freezing causing the loss of pond life or damage to the pond itself. Also, unusual warm spells in weather can enable bacterial activity which can deplete oxygen. These devices usually have adjustable thermostats, cycle on and off, and are quite energy efficient. Placement of these are critical, and they should be very close to the surface. Don’t allow snow to accumulate on a frozen pond surface, gently brush it away if possible, this allows sunlight to access the pond and will help with algae. Keep a watchful eye on fish if there are left in the pond over Winter. Fish tend to gather at the bottom of a body of water in the cold weather, and if you notice them close to the surface and the pond is iced over, move quickly. Make certain there is a fair sized whole in the ice (12 inches should do) and check to ensure the aerator is working properly. Most likely, an iced over pond allows methane gas to accumulate and can easily kill aquatic life if left unchecked.
In warm climates Winter Garden Pond maintenance is much the same as Spring maintenance. Regardless of location Garden Ponds can be a source of tremendous enjoyment and peaceful reflection. The best advice for maintenance is to view them as living entities, rather than a landscape attraction.