your water garden wake up fresh and full of life after its winter slumber.
Move hardy aquatic plants to deep water
to keep them from freezing. Some aquatic plants are fairly hardy but
won't tolerate freezing solid.
water gardening gained its current level of popularity, I lived in an old
house outside of New York City, surrounded by a pond, a stream that
supported a thriving crop of watercress, and acres of rich, moist soil.
The habitat functioned well without my assistance. The ecology of the pond
remained balanced without filters or pumps, and year after year, the
watercress flourished with no help from me.
It wasn't until
I started adding plants that I encountered problems. As a novice water
gardener, I had wrongly assumed that everything I put in my water garden
was perrenial and hardy. My introductions often did not survive the
winter. I soon learned that a water garden, like any other garden, is
easiest to maintain if you stock it with plants adapted to your climate.
must be reckoned with. Where winter temperatures dip below freezing, many
water garden favorites will fail to survive winter's wrath. Success,
therefore, depends on knowing your aquatic plants and their hardiness
winter, plant hardiness may be top of mind; however, being familiar with
the needs of your aquatic plants means more than just knowing their
hardiness. Regardless of the Zone you live in or the plants you use,
certain fall tasks are vital for a healthy, successful water garden.
perennial or herb or any other type of garden, a fall maintenance
checklist is helpful. Follow the checklist and plant recommendations here
to maintain a thriving water garden. Investing in your water garden now
will bring rich returns next spring and summer.
Cold-Climate Pond Checklist
Move hardy aquatic plants to deep water
to keep them from freezing. Some aquatic plants are fairly hardy but won't
tolerate freezing solid. Move these types (or example, hardy water lilies,
native arrowheads, pickerelweed, and parrot feather) to a deeper area in
the pond - at least 18 inches deep - where they'll remain submerged below
the ice. If the pond freezes top to bottom, you'll need to remove these
plants entirely. The freezing depth varies depending on your hardiness
Zone and the size of the pond.
Clean submersible filters and either store them for winter or move them
close to the water's surface. The bubbling action of a filter can prevent a
pond from completely freezing over in all but the coldest regions.
Vacum the pond to clean out residual organic matter. This
prevents the formation of toxic gases that can be lethal to fish.
Reduce the amount of food you give fish as
temperatures drop. When the temperature falls below 50F, stop feeding
them. Ample nutrition exists in the pond for the fish, which are in
semihibernation. If you continue to feed them, the fish will keep eating,
creating more waste products than the oxygenating plants can handle. The
toxic gases will eventually kill the fish.
Remove tropical lilies from the pond and put them someplace they won't
freeze, such as a heated garage or basement. If the lilies are in pots
without drainage holes, submerge them in shallow water in a container such
as that shown (above) or simply keep them well-watered. If they are in
regular pots, it's time to transport them into ones without drainage
holes. Check water levels weekly to ensure the lilies don't dry out.
Remove other tender plants from the pond, and store with tropical lilies.
Loosely wrap each plant with moist newspaper and store in a large trash
bag. Check the newspaper every few weeks to make sure it is still moist.
Don't overwet it, or you risk rotting the plants.
Place a screen over the pond, (left), to prevent leaves from dropping
into water and changing its chemistry. This is much easier than trying to
remove leaves as they fall, raking the pond weekly, or waiting until
spring for a major cleanup. Netting, shade cloth, or landscape fabric
works well if supported by a wood frame.
Drain a masonry or concrete pond in
regions where ponds freeze solid to avoid cracking the sides and bottom.
Use a siphon or a pump. Remove fish and keep them in indoor aquariums, or
give them away and get new ones in the spring. Alternatively, you can
avoid the hassle by installing an electric pond deicer. You don't have to
run them 24/7; just turn the deicer on whenever ice begins to form.
Keep other kinds of ponds from freezing over. Ponds
lined with plastic, PVC, rubber, or natural earth don't require draining.
In regions where ice is unlikely to exceed 2 inches in thickness, you can
keep the pond from freezing over by floating large rubber balls or a
2-inch-thick, 1-foot-square piece of plastic foam in the water. If you
expect the ice to get much thicker than 2 inches, use a deicer.
Be sure to drain fountains.