Winterizing help

CaraRoseOctober 27, 2013

I've just covered the pond with netting (late fall here, the leaf dump has not begun yet) for fall.

What should I be doing for winter prep? Should I cut back my water lilies or wait until the leaves die back? We've had a frost but the the leaves are still green and healthy.

What should I do for the waterfall?

Should I remove the pump/filter for the winter, or just make sure it's up on the higher shelf? Should I remove or keep the biomedia in the waterfall filter weir over the winter?

There's a ton of anacharis now (that stuff grows like crazy, doesn't it?) should I thin it or just leave it?

Should I sink the bog plants or will they do okay on the shelf?

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Hi Cara
I'll try to help, you will find many people winterize their pond's different ways. I'll give you a run down of what I do for my small pond, and why. The pond netting I like to keep on all winter. I have metal stakes in the ground with a thick wire running criss-cross over the pond. This keeps all the leaves out. Plus my fish don't get hung up on sunken netting. I live an hour below Binghamton NY. I know I don't have the Chicago winters, but it still gets cold here.
Do you have fish in you pond. If so you want to worry about plant waste. I cut all my plants back, and drop bog pots in the deep part of the pond. For me it is only 2 feet deep.
Waterfall: First take all the media out of the bio filter at the top of the falls. I clean and store everything in garbage bags. Do not throw away your bag of bioballs or lava rock. Rinse off your media bag and throw it right into its own separate garbage bag, that bacteria will live for a long time. In spring, you already have pre-colonized media to go in your pond.
Now this is where its your choice, you have the option of running your waterfall all winter. I personally don't like doing that. First, my water fall is 30 feet long, an ice block can cause all the water in the pond to drain out and kill my fish. Second, with really cold winters, you don't know when a line will freeze. So I take out the Pump and filters in my skimmer. Now I have a bigger pump, I've heard that if you let them dry out, the inner seals can crack. So I keep my pump submerged all winter in a plastic tote. Check your manufactures suggestions on storage.
Winterizing: I like to place closed empty milk containers in my skimmer. This way if my skimmer does ice up, the ice will put pressure on the milk containers before putting pressure on the walls of your skimmer. Now if you don't have fish, your done. If you do, look into getting a small heater that will float on the surface to keep ice from totally freezing. You can also add an air pump with air stones. I have a submersible pump that I use just for winters. I sit it on the top shelf and let the water spit almost straight up. This keeps some kind of circulation.
I know this seems like allot, anyone will tell you that winterizing your pond is the worst part of year. After doing it the first year its a snap. Just remember to clean things good and let the dry. Do an inventory or what you might need to replace. This way spring start up is a breeze.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 4:03AM
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jan2(z5 Illinois)

What size is your pond? That has a lot to do with how you winterize in the Chicago area. I live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and have a 1,500 gallon pond. Will be happy to help you but prefer private emails to not clutter up the list.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 4:29PM
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It's a small pond, somewhere between 150-200 gallons, 2' max depth. I have some goldfish. I bought the deicer a few months ago so I have that ready to set up.

Most of what Craig has said sounds similar to what I was thinking I needed to do. Good to know I'm not all that offbase.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 4:52PM
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I'm in the same zone CaraRose - sounds like you're on the right track! The only thing we've found is that plants can be tricky to over winter, because as you know, every Chicago winter is different from the last. A good snow cover before a bitter cold can make the difference between a plant surviving the winter and not. What works one year may not the next. And your pond is different from anyone else's, so your challenges will be unique to your pond. Learn the principles, do your best and keep your fingers crossed until spring!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 9:10AM
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Well, after a bunch of rain, the pond level flooded over into the bog zone, and somehow some of my dumber comets got over the netting. They're fine, but I pulled the netting until i can rework it . I think I need to raise the end near the waterfall, or otherwise there's a spot that they can get over if the water level is higher than normal. Netting them out, it cool to see how big those feeders get in a season. One's was big as my hand.

Pulled the water lily pots and trimmed the hardy, pulled and am attempting to overwinter my tropical colorata.

I can't believe how much those lilies grow over a season. I had the hardy last year in my container water garden, one of those cocofiber net things you get at home depot. I freed it from the net and fiber this year and potted it in pea gravel. The roots had grown through and were rooting into the sludge on the bottom. It was as struggle to lift it!

Still need to sink the bog plants and my colorado water lily that's in a container. Thinned the anacharis and tied it into some bunches before tossing it back in. Not sure how long I should wait to pull the pumps?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 3:59PM
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