Enjoy water fixtures all year by winterizing

For many people with backyard ponds, fountains and other water-garden fixtures, the arrival of cold weather means draining the pipes and pulling the plug.

But water gardens can be attractive winter gardens, too, with the right preparation and landscaping.

Turning off a garden’s water fixtures may not be necessary, depending on where you live, said Keith Folsom, president of Springdale Water Gardens in Greenville, Virginia. “Their wintertime effect is always different and attractive with the use of landscape lighting and the right plants.”

“We had an extremely cold winter here last year but it wasn’t a problem,” he said. “Pay attention and know how much water you’re using below the ice. You have to keep that flow topped off.”

Ensure that water lines and fixtures are drained if you do decide to turn them off so they won’t expand with freezing and break, Folsom said. “Running water, on the other hand, prevents icing. That’s one of the reasons I tell people to keep them running.”

Landscaping around water fixtures can mean simply adding a few evergreens for contrast against snow, or stringing some lights around the ice.

“People who live in the South will most likely keep their ponds going, and use cold and frost-tolerant landscaping for visual interest,” said Tavia Tawney, technical services manager for Aquascape Inc. in Chicago.

Tips for preparing your pond for the winter freeze-up:

— Remove debris before it can decompose. That prevents organic rot, loss of oxygen and an accumulation of toxic gases. “But the bigger problem comes if you stir it up,” Folsom said. “That can turn up bacteria that will be harmful to fish in winter.”

— Use netting. Cover the water with a screen, sweep the surface with a long-handled net or install skimmers like those used to vacuum swimming pools.

— Prune. Pinch off aquatic plants as they die back. Reposition your hardy potted water lilies into deeper water. “Tropical plants will die after a hard frost and should be removed then, or you can bring the tropicals inside the house for winter,” Tawney said.

— Stop feeding the fish. “It is very important to stop feeding the fish once water temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as they go into a deep slumber and do not digest the food they may eat,” Tawney said.

— Use a bubbler or tank heater if you have fish. “We use an aerator bubbler to add oxygen to the pond if the falls are turned off,” Tawney said. “Once we are continuously below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, we use a supplemental heater to help the bubbler keep a dinner-plate-size hole in the ice.”

It’s best to maintain water gardens throughout the year rather than scramble to get things done before winter sets in, she said.

“It is not advisable to do any major cleaning once the fish are ‘hibernating’ because that is very stressful for them,” she said.

More in Life

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: What’s OLD?

It occurred to me that we go through stages all our lives.

This Rip Rider photos shows a successful fisherman posing in front of the Russian River Rendezvous in the mid-1950s. (Photo courtesy of the Mona Painter Collection)
The Disappearing Lodge, Part 2

In late May 1959, officials from the Russian River Rendezvous, Alaska Sportsman’s Association, Inc., made a splashy official announcement in the Anchorage Daily Times

File
Minister’s Message: Who is this man?

Over and over again, they struggle to rightly name who he is and what he’s up to

A still from “Casting Maya,” a film about Ascension Bay on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is seen in this screenshot. From Pure Films, the short will be one of nine shown at the International Fly Fishing Film Festival on Aug. 10 in Kenai, Alaska. (IF4/flyfilmfest.com)
Anglers’ night out

Annual International Fly Fishing Film Festival returns to Kenai

Candy pecans make a sweet snack to enjoy on excursions. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Road trip reimagined

Candied pecans accompany more subdued wandering

Robert C. Lewis photo courtesy of the Alaska Digital Archives 
Ready to go fishing, a pair of guests pose in front of the Russian River Rendezvous in the early 1940s.
The Disappearing Lodge, Part 1

By the spring of 1931, a new two-story log building — the lodge’s third iteration — stood on the old site, ready for business

Viola Davis stars in “The Woman King.” (Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.)
On the screen: Women reign in latest action flick

‘The Woman King’ is a standout that breaks new ground

Artwork donated for the Harvest Auction hangs at the Kenai Art Center on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Auction, juried show to showcase local talent

Kenai Art Center will host its annual Harvest Auction this weekend, juried art show next month

Sweet and tart cranberry pecan oat bars are photographed. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Cranberries to match the bright colors of fall

Delicious cranberry pecan oat bars are sweet and tart

Most Read