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Best practices to get water features and ponds ready for falling temperatures

September 21, 2022 -  By
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Todd Cruikshank of The Pond & Rock Shop says winterization is a great time to perform renovations on water features. (Photo: Todd Cruikshank)

Todd Cruikshank of The Pond & Rock Shop says winterization is a great time to perform renovations on
water features. (Photo: Todd Cruikshank)

As temperatures drop for parts of the country, the clock ticks away for water features and pond winterization. Experts share why it’s important to winterize ponds and water features and what professionals should keep in mind during this time of year.

Todd Cruikshank, owner of The Pond & Rock Shop in Cicero, N.Y., says anything with an external pump, whether it’s a water feature or pond, is susceptible to freezing. He suggests contractors begin the winterizing process by communicating with clients.

“It’s an opportunity for education from the contractor to go over why they shut down the systems,” he says.

The 411 on ponds

Brandt Reynolds, sales representative with Blue Thumb Distributing, suggests pros should consider netting ponds, water features and fountains in early fall to keep leaves from contaminating the pond or water feature. Reynolds recommends contractors remove the netting before the snow falls so the weight of the snow doesn’t damage the netting. Reynolds also suggests contractors use cold water bacteria when the water temperature hits 35 to 55 degrees F.

Cruikshank says contractors will want to deploy an aerator and a deicer if there are fish in the pond.

“The aerator will create oxygen in the water, which will allow the fish to thrive,” he says. “The deicer will kind of do the same thing by having the water remain open in a small area, which will allow the oxygen to flow.”

The 411 on water features

Reynolds says contractors should bring vase fountains inside and store them in a dry place, although you can cover and leave glass fiber-reinforced concrete fountains outside.

Water basins are also OK to leave outside in the winter and should be kept about half full of water to keep them in place as temperatures drop, Reynolds says.

“We think of our basin as a big ice cube tray during the winter,” he says. “We want to make sure that water is in there to weigh down the basin so that it doesn’t get pushed up with the freeze-thaw periods.”

Winterizing best practices

Reynolds says contractors should store submersible pumps in a 5-gallon bucket with water in a place in the shop that won’t freeze. This extra step, he says, will extend the life of the seals on the pump. Meanwhile, contractors should store non-submersible pumps in a dry place that won’t freeze.

As contractors remove pumps and any other water feature parts, Cruikshank says it’s critical to label everything so it’s easier in the spring to reinstall them.

Cruikshank and Reynolds say contractors should keep handy general tools such as wrenches, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, channel locks, pliers and an air compressor. Reynolds also suggests contractors keep waterproof gloves and waders on hand because fittings can be sharp in colder water temperatures, especially when servicing ponds.

“Depending upon what they’re working on, the pump may be down in the bottom of the pond if it’s not in a skimmer, so having those waders would help keep them high and dry,” he says.

Reynolds also keeps plastic shopping bags in his truck in case he needs to cover and protect something late in the season.

Opportunities abound

Cruikshank says winterizing is a great time for contractors to take a close look at a water feature or pond, change filters and see if anything within the system needs servicing, is out of warranty or needs upgrading.

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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