How to Winterize Your Custom Water Feature

Water offers an almost magical effect to any landscape. Soothing sounds, a reflection of light, and the ability to be simultaneously tranquil and wild; water features are a must for custom landscape design projects.

Whether you are considering a waterfall, koi pond, or water fountain, don’t be intimidated by the maintenance and care your water feature requires. As the summer days lengthen and the air cools down, preparation and a little know-how will help you get your custom water feature ready for winter!

Step 1: Clean It Up

Landscape Design LittletonDuring the summer and fall, you’ll find that leaves are yellowing and beginning to fall off trees, bushes, and flowers. If you have plants in your water feature, they are also starting to show signs of changing and getting ready for a dormant winter.

  1. Clean up your water feature by pruning plants nearby and removing any leaves or plant matter that blows onto the water. If you have pond plants, remove them before the first frost. Remember, you’ll need to remove leaves and debris about every week until they are all gone from trees.
  2. Consider whether pond plants are healthy and can be correctly stored or whether it’s time to compost or trash them. Some aquatic plants can be cut back and remain in the water feature over winter. Check to see what type of plants you have and prune accordingly.
  3. If you have fish in a pond, stop feeding them when the water temperature reaches about 55o F (10o C). Feeding fish too late in the season can create unwanted health problems. Also, don’t fertilize any water feature plants when the weather becomes cooler. It’s time to let fish and plants know that winter is coming so they can begin to hibernate or become dormant.

Step 2: Drain the Water

Unless you have fish living in your custom water feature or plan on performing maintenance throughout winter (see Step 3: Air Circulation), plan on draining the water from small water features and fountains. Be sure to empty or blow out water from the lines and pipes that feed the water feature.

Protect any exposed pipes or lines and shut off the water, removing any external water hoses from the feature. Winterizing water lines is important to protect the pipes and avoid water lines freezing over the coming months.

Step 3: Air Circulation

In Colorado, it is possible to keep water in medium-to-large size ponds year-round. If you have fish in the pond, you will need a re-circulating pump to oxygenate the water. This pump will create small bubbles and a hole at the water’s surface to help with gas exchange.

If the weather is very cold for long periods, it might be necessary to break a hole in the top of the pond where ice has formed. You may also consider a floating de-icer to help the water from freezing over completely.

Step 4: Winter Protection

If you’ve drained your pond or water feature, unplug the power source, remove the pump, clean any filters, and store it away for next year. Pumps left out during the winter can crack or freeze, which will shorten the performance and life of the device.

Some small water features, such as birdbaths or small fountains, benefit from being stored in a shed or garage over winter. Even larger water features will perform better in the spring if you take the time to cover them to avoid the stress of cold temperatures and keep the manufactured material looking good.

If your water feature is made of natural stone or concrete, use a surface sealer to keep out moisture. Natural stones absorb water and when it freezes, the water expands and can cause cracks.

Properly preparing your water feature for winter will save you money and keep your feature looking and working its best for years to come.

If your custom water feature is large, usually 200 gallons of water or more, or you’re just not sure how to winterize it, contact us! We can winterize your water feature quickly and reliably, so it’s safe over the cold months and ready to enjoy in the spring.