Water elements add a connection to nature in your landscape. The sounds of a babbling brook bring a serene atmosphere to your outdoor room. Here are three things to do now to ensure you can enjoy your pond next spring.
1. Install a thermometer or “temperature sensor” (or test/change the batteries in your existing one). In the upcoming months, monitoring the dropping temperature of your pond water is crucial to timing your maintenance correctly. While the first frost is a traditional marker for gardening, it isn’t the best measure for pond maintenance. Fish and plants have varying needs in cold weather, and you’ll have to keep an eye on the water temps to know when to act. The latest technology is a remote sensor that uses wifi. It enables you to check the temperature via your phone or computer. Make sure the unit has sufficient range in its wireless signal so you can check the temp while still indoors.
2. Clear out the filter and install a decontaminator/aerator if you have fish. A waterfall is great for oxygenating the pond but in the winter, less water will flow and the fish will need more oxygen until they hibernate. Ammonia buildup is the most common killer of pond fish. A decontaminator will work to remove the ammonia in the water. Also, make sure pumps are clean and working efficiently. According to pond supply vendor TheWaterGarden.org, natural disasters like heavy rains or floods can throw a pond’s pH levels out of whack. Keeping those pumps in working order may save those expensive koi fish. A generator will help keep the filters on during power loss, but if you don’t have one make sure to stop feeding the fish until the electricity is restored. Decomposing food adds to the ammonia build-up. The fish can go without food for weeks at a time. An electrical outage will most likely only last a few days at best.
3. Bring in tropical plants. Tropical plants are, after all, tropical. They will not last through consistent temperatures that dip below 50 degrees F. You’ll want to bring in these plants for the duration. Some tropicals are “high-maintenance,” meaning they will require more time and money than others. You may want to consider simply tossing them and buying new ones in the Spring. (One good thing about tossing them – plants are biodegradable!). Check with your local nursery on the prices to maintain versus installing new on each species of tropical plant from your pond. It may be better to start the spring with new plants than to struggle to maintain the old ones over the winter.
Ponds are beautiful and refreshing elements to add to your landscape, but they require a bit of seasonal maintenance. Break up the tasks over a week’s time and you and your pond will be ready for whatever winter brings.