While summer pond maintenance might seem more crucial than winter pond maintenance, there are actually several steps that you need to take as the temperatures drop to help maintain water quality through the winter months and into the spring.
- Clear Away Dead Plants
Late fall is the perfect time to tackle some yard maintenance and we recommend cutting away dead plant leaves and trimming back trees as well as removing as many fallen leaves as possible from your yard. This dead matter can easily end up in your pond where it will sink to the bottom and form a sludge layer.
While the temperatures in a winter pond might not facilitate the growth of floating organic matter, as soon as the temperatures begin to climb, that sludge layer will become an issue quickly. When you have a heavy layer of sludge or pond muck, this reduces oxygen levels in your pond, which can accelerate the growth of floating green organic matter. With a small decorative pond or a koi pond, it is highly recommended that you cover the pond with netting to prevent dead leaves and other debris from ending up in the pond.
- Remove The Sludge
If you do have a sludge layer, this can be a great time to break out the pond vacuum and remove the sludge and muck. Once you’ve bagged up fallen leaves, trimmed back plants and skimmed the surface of the pond, vacuum away the sludge and your pond will be nice and clean. If you have a larger pond, you might need to hire a pond company to come and remove the sludge layer.
Investing a bit of time in winter pond maintenance will make spring and summer maintenance much easier because you will be starting out with a cleaner, healthier pond and with proper spring and summer pond care, you may be able to prevent a new sludge layer from forming.
- Toss In A Sphere
If you live in a cold climate where your pond typically freezes over for several months each year, you may not think about treating the water monthly with beneficial bacteria, but that could be a mistake. We highly recommend that you toss in an AquaSpherePRO® just before the ice begins to form. The bacteria in the AquaSpherePRO® will consume any excess nutrients and can help keep your pond in good shape and better able to manage higher temperatures come spring.
Of course, if you do live in a place where the water doesn’t ice over and water temperature doesn’t drop below about 50 degrees for an extended period, we recommend monthly treatment with the AquaSpherePRO®. Typically, during the winter months, AquaSpherePRO® is often all of the treatment you will need, although, in very warm areas, such as Florida, you may need additional bacteria treatments if the temperatures spike.
Our all-natural beneficial bacteria for ponds provide a safe, effective treatment for ponds and small water features. These bacteria products, including AquaSpherePRO®, contain no chemicals, are veterinarian-approved and safe for fish, wildlife, livestock, pets and people. The beneficial bacteria in AquaSpherePRO® and our other all-natural pond treatment products consume excess nutrients in your pond and can help prevent the growth of floating organic matter.
- Manage The Ice
If you do live in an area where ice is common, ice management can be tricky, especially in a pond stocked with fish. In some cases, your winter pond maintenance should include the addition of a pond heater and de-icer. This can ensure that there is a hole open in the ice at all times, allowing for a flow of oxygen.
Some people prefer to keep their pond aeration system in place, as well, and use that to keep water circulating, which can prevent freezing. You can use an aeration system and a heater/de-icer together, as well. We highly recommend speaking with a fish pond specialist before purchasing any type of heater/de-icer or aeration system to ensure that you find the best models for your pond size and type as well as learning how to properly use these systems throughout the winter.
Additionally, as part of winter pond maintenance, talk to a fish expert about feeding. Many fish enter a state of hibernation during the winter and often don’t need to be fed. However, this entirely depends on the water temperature. For instance, once the temperature falls below about 40 degrees, they don’t need to be fed, but if the temperature ranges between 41 and 50 degrees, they might need occasional food.
A fish expert should be consulted so that you don’t overfeed or underfeed your fish. Overfeeding can cause serious problems with fish at any time, but winter feeding can be tricky to manage, so you must know precisely when to feed and how much. Even if the temperatures spike unexpectedly, you might want to hold off on feeding until you are certain that the temperature will remain consistent. If that water temperature drops and your fish’s stomachs are full of food, this can cause health issues.
- Get Ready For Spring
If there is one word to describe the weather, “unpredictable,” would be at the top of our list. Weather experts certainly provide us with a good idea of when to expect a spring thaw, but you really never know for sure when those temperatures are going to start to climb, which is why we always recommend that our clients prepare for spring before the ice and snow melts.
We recommend that you keep some AquaSpherePRO® on hand as well as some of our Natural BLAST®. When the water temperature in your pond begins to rise, toss in some spheres and add the Natural BLAST® to jumpstart your pond and give it some help to adjust to the changing temperatures. It takes just a few minutes to add these beneficial bacteria products to your pond, but it can make a huge difference in your water quality.
While winter pond care varies by location, the team at Healthy Ponds is always here to help you maintain a beautiful pond. We offer free personalized pond water treatment plans for any size water feature at https://healthyponds.com/free-pond-plan/. If you have any questions about our pond maintenance products, feel free to contact us at any time.