Your water garden hopefully required little attention during the summer while providing hours of pleasure. Now that the nights are getting cooler it is time to do some preparations for winter so that the inhabitants can survive the winter and the water garden will come back to live in all its glory in the spring.


Plants

Tropical floating plants should be removed from the pond before they start to deteriorate and foul the water. It is best to discard these plants and plan on buying new ones in the spring. Tropical marginal plants such as Longwood Cannas, Umbrella Palms and Papyrus need to be moved inside and treated as houseplants in colder regions during the winter months. For better appearance trim any roots that have grown outside the pot. Hardy marginal plants just need to be trimmed and moved low enough into the water to avoid freezing.

 

All dead foliage should be cut off and discarded. Hardy Water Lilies will survive winter in the deeper parts of the pond. Tropical Water Lilies will have to be brought inside.

Submerged oxygenating plants can be trimmed back at this time.

Water

The quality of water in the pond should be maintained even during the winter months to insure the survival of the pond inhabitants. Removing debris and decomposing leaves with a skimmer net will help prevent oxygen depletion. The pond can be covered with a floating net if falling leaves from nearby trees are being blown into the water by fall winds.

Fish

All feeding of pond fish must stop once the water temperature drops below 48 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold-water fish such as Goldfish and Koi cannot digest food properly below these temperatures.

They will happily munch on algae and other natural foods if the water does warm up occasionally. It is very important to provide for sufficient oxygen in the pond. It must never be allowed to freeze completely for more than a day or so. A hole in the ice needs to be maintained to allow poisonous gases to escape and
oxygen to enter. Floating pond de-icers are the most efficient way to accomplish this. Never open the ice by beating on it. The resulting sound waves can injure the fish.

Equipment

Disconnect, clean and store away external filters. Drain all pipes and tubing to prevent bursting during freezing weather. Electric pumps can be left in the pond if they are located well below the freezing line. In ponds with a large fish population it may be necessary to continue to run the pump to keep a sufficient supply of oxygen. The pump should be moved just below the surface of the water under these circumstances to avoid cooling the lower layers of water too much.

Performing the above steps will insure the survival of the fish and make opening the water garden in the spring simpler and easier. The only thing left to do is a partial water change, if possible. Draining some water and adding new at this time of year helps dilute organic pollutants that accumulated during the summer. And, as a side note, the autumn is a terrific time of year to install new ponds and enlarge existing ones. Cooler temperatures and, usually, less rain than in the spring make fall a good time in many areas for digging and working with the soil.