Spring, summer and fall, your water garden offers a tranquil refreshing respite in your landscape. And while many water gardens features can still be enjoyed during the winter season, there are some tips to prepare it for the upcoming season
Most water gardens designed for consistent operation are left with the waterfalls and streams running continually through winter. Not only is this visually pleasing, but by keeping an opening in the water’s surface (other than short periods of being iced over), it prevents harmful decomposition gases from accumulating and potentially harming over-wintering fish.
Tropical water plants such as the floating Water Hyacinths & Lettuce are killed at first frost and need to be removed to prevent the dead foliage from adding to unwanted waste in your water garden.
Other hardy water plants can usually stay put in their normal summer time locations during winter, with water lilies & lotus staying in the deeper regions and other marginal aquatic plants around the perimeter. Some marginals, like Elephant Ears, Papyrus, and other tropicals, need to be removed and stored in a overwintering zone where they won’t be exposed to heavy freezes. Let them go dormant in a temperate garage setting or even indoors.
Use pond netting to protect the water surface from leaves and other debris. If you do not use netting, be sure to take a skimmer net and dip out the heaviest accumulations. Also check your pumps and filters for blockages or restrictions in the intake or filter. For pumps, filters and UV lights that will not be operating all winter, take them out, drain the water and store them indoors.
Pond hardy fish such as Koi & various types of Goldfish acclimate very well to cold water conditions, and do not require relocation or any type of special preparation. Adjust their feeding when the water temp dips below 60. Their usual food is high in protein and fat which is hard to digest when it’s cold. So cut back on the amount and the frequency of feedings and use a winter food with a more easily digested makeup such as Aquascape’s Premium Cold Water Fish Food Pellets.
Finally, continue to apply beneficial bacteria to your water garden during winter, but switch to a cold water formula like Microbe Lift’s Autumn Prep. And consider a Pond De-Icer designed to float on the surface and automatically turn off and on as needed, keeping a small circular area open to allow harmful decomposition gases from accumulating.