With the temperatures starting to drop, those of you with ponds will need to start thinking about ways to prepare them to withstand whatever winter brings.
One of the first issues is temperature – especially if you have a pond that is a home for fish or wildlife. As ice forms on top of a pond, it traps in the gas that is released from submerged decaying vegetation. If the gas isn’t released it can build up to toxic levels and kill the wildlife in the pond – so to ensure the gas doesn’t become trapped, it is vital you find ways to stop your pond freezing over. As well as stopping a fresh supply of oxygen entering the pond, ice can also put the sides of concrete ponds under a lot of pressure, which may lead to cracking.
So now you know why it is important to stop ice from forming, how can you go about stopping it? For short-term solutions, try placing balls into your pond such as a tennis ball, football or beach ball – just make sure they float first! The ball will move around the surface of the water thanks to the natural water movement, but be warned – this will only work for a short! In very cold weather, you’ll need something more substantial to stop the surface freezing – such as a pond heater. Pond heaters keep the water at a set temperature and although they are quite expensive to purchase, they can last many winters with the right maintenance. Another option is an air pump that has the added benefit of being able to aerate the water in the summer, which reduces carbon dioxide levels.
Once you have the water sorted, you’ll need to pay some attention to the plants surrounding the pond. You’ll want to prevent dead leaves, flowers and stems from sinking into the pond (as they will produce toxic gases as they break down) so once plants start dropping their leaves, give them a good prune and collect up all of the cuttings. Especially important if your pond is positioned under trees or shrubs, make sure you skim off as much floating debris as possible and dispose of it away from the water.
If your filtration system has been lacking throughout the year and your pond has collected debris at the base, you’ll want to try and remove as much as you can – a pond vacuum will be especially helpful for this. For those of you with filter systems in place, make sure you give them a good clean and store in a warm place, ready for next spring.
If you have fish in your pond, you’ll notice they become less active as the temperature drops and as a result, will need less food – so gradually cut down on the amount you are feeding, which will also help reduce the risk of significant algae growth. If your pond does freezer over, don’t panic and smash the ice as this will send shockwaves through the water that can damage, and in some cases, kill your fish. To melt the surface safely, place a hot pan on the ice and wait until it melts through.
If you have any questions or concerns about managing your pond in winter, please do pop in store to speak to our friendly staff in store and browse our products.