How to Winterize Water Features in Your Yard

A fountain covered in snow.

With winter coming, there’s a lot to do to prepare for the season. From stocking up on shovels, firewood, and salt to getting all of your winter coats and accessories out of storage, we know that you wish to leave no stone unturned. This includes something that might not immediately come to mind, which is winterizing the various parts of your yard—especially any water features you may have. To help you take care of this cold weather chore, we’ve rounded up instructions, tips, and tricks to guide you through keeping your water features protected all winter long!

Fountains and Small Water Features

Remove Plants

The first step in winterizing your water features is to remove any plants that exist around the space. This can occur as late as during the first frost of the season, although we recommend getting it done prior to that point of the winter! Once the physical plants are gone, remove any remaining debris from the plants that may be floating around your water feature or that has fallen around it. At this point, you’ll also need to decide whether you want to keep your plants and preserve them over the winter or get rid of them and replant new ones when the warm weather returns.

Clear Algae

A fountain with algae.

You’ll definitely want to make sure you get rid of any algae that exists within your water feature as you get it ready for the winter. To do this, use a water-activated granular algaecide. Keep in mind that ridding the feature of algae completely may mean you have to scrub it clean.

Drain the Water

Now it’s time to get rid of the water in your fountain or feature. Not only should you drain the water from the aesthetic of the feature, but you should also drain all of the water that exists in the plumbing lines as well as within the hard-to-reach recesses and smaller spaces. This must be done prior to the first frost of the season in order to ensure that any water left over will evaporate from the plumbing lines.

Remove the Pump

To protect your pump from a harsh winter, it should be removed and stored indoors. This is because the inevitable presence of ice during the colder weather exerts pressure on the outside casing of the device. This could lead to cracks that result in water entering the interior of the device. It’s important to address this potentially dangerous issue, as the electrical lines of a pump exist inside the tool. Allowing water to enter the pump could result in reduced functionality or in it becoming completely unusable. To save yourself the hassle and money, just remove it and store it inside to relieve yourself of the worry!

Winterizing your small water features is as simple as that! It doesn’t take much effort, but it’ll save you a great deal of annoyance once the spring comes around, and it also ensures that your water feature remains in pristine condition.

Winterizing Ponds

Ponds are another water feature in your yard that you’ll want to protect during the winter. This process differs slightly from what we explained above, but we broke it all down for you below.

Remove Leaves and Debris

A pond with autumn leaves on the surface.

First, removing any leaves and debris that have collected in your little oasis over the fall is a necessity to winterizing your pond. A great way to make this step easier is to lay a net over the top of the water towards the beginning of the fall. That way, you can simply roll it up once all the leaves are down and your pond will be clear! Regardless, ensure that you have scooped all the debris from the bottom of the pond with a long-necked net, as leaving it there will cause a problem come spring.

Add the Right Chemicals

Adding in cold water bacteria is the best way to keep your pond clean and clear during the winter. This substance is designed to work in temperatures below 50 degrees and it’s great for maintaining water quality and clarity and helping to digest debris that your pond comes into contact with as the winter progresses.

Ponds That Run all Winter

A pond surrounded by snow and ducks.

You may choose to keep your pond running during the cold weather season. It will create pretty ice and frost formations, so we can understand why you might want to do so! If that’s the case, be sure to add water to the feature frequently due to water lost in evaporation and to keep an eye on ice formations to ensure that they don’t create dams that lead to unnecessary water loss around the edges of the structure.

Ponds That Are Turned off for the Winter

A pond drain with water flowing into it.

On the other hand, you may want to shut down your pond for the winter months. If that’s your decision, remove the pump from your pond and store it in a warm place as less exposure to the cold can lengthen its lifespan. Next, drain the water out of the plumbing to prevent freezing, expanding, and potentially cracking the equipment and pipes. You’ll also want to remove and clean the filter and associated pieces, spraying them with a garden hose and storing them with your pump.

The next step is to install a small recirculating pump in order to oxygenate the water within your pond during the winter. This measure opens a small hole as ice begins to form, allows harmful gasses to escape, and permits oxygen into the pond water.

Winterizing your water features may not be the most glamorous of tasks, but it’s one that must be done! Give these beautiful parts of your yard the TLC that they deserve to ensure they’re in tip-top condition once spring rolls back around.