Although it might feel as though you just nailed down your leaf raking and perennial care routine for fall, winter in the northeast will be here before you know it. For homeowners in this region, that means it is already time to start switching gears and coming up with your winter landscaping plan.
The first things that come to mind when you think of winter landscaping are probably snow removal and plant protection. If you have water features on your property though, your cold-weather preparations do not stop there. You also need to take steps to winterize waterfalls, ponds, streams, fountains, etc. to protect them from damage—and you need to do it soon. Use the guide we’ve put together below to prepare your water features for a northern winter!
Waterfalls & Fountains
Clean it out.
Start the process of winterizing smaller water features, such as waterfalls, fountains, and bird baths, by thoroughly cleaning them out. Remove any plants, dirt, algae, fallen leaves, and other debris that has settled in the water or anywhere on the feature. This is both to prevent clogging and keep it in good shape. Now would also be a good time to give it a good scrubbing, just to keep it looking fresh.
Drain the water.
If any water is left in your feature when the temperatures drop low, it runs the risk of freezing over and causing damage. When water freezes, it expands, which can lead to cracks in water lines, pumps, and other sensitive equipment that you will then have to replace in the spring. Make sure your feature has been drained completely and dried before the first frost.
Remove the pump and other equipment.
Even if you do drain every drop of water from your feature now, that sensitive equipment will still be vulnerable to moisture from snow and ice, as well as potential damage from harsh winter conditions in general. Water pumps, filters, pipes/lines, nozzles, and other components should be removed, cleaned, and stored in a warmer place until spring.
Cover and/or store.
To protect your water feature’s structure, you should cover it to prevent moisture build up and other winter weather damage. Most hardware stores sell special water feature covers online and in-store, which will offer the best protection. If your feature is small enough and portable, you may want to consider storing it in the garage, shed, or basement for winter.
Ponds & Streams
Clean in and around it.
Just like for smaller water features, larger features and the area around them need to be cleaned to prepare for the onset of winter. Again, this will prevent debris from building up and clogging or damaging the feature.
Drain or maintain with chemicals.
You can choose to either drain your pond or stream for the winter or maintain it through the season. If you want to drain it, follow the same process you would for smaller features. If you want to leave the water through the winter, you’ll need to keep it healthy with the right chemicals and bacteria. Be sure to research which chemicals are okay to use with any of the wildlife species that might inhabit your pond or other large feature.
Keep up with fish and aquatic plant care.
A lot of aquatic wildlife can survive the winter in your pond or stream if the water is deep enough, and as long as you don’t allow the top to freeze over. If you’ve filled your pond with fish that do well in backyard ponds, you actually won’t need to feed them as often, since they use less energy in the winter. You may want to consider getting a water aerator to keep oxygen flowing and possibly a water heater, to ensure the temperature doesn’t get too cold for them to inhabit. For plant life, hardy aquatic plants can be trimmed back, moved to deep water, and survive the winter just fine. Tropical plants, however, will need to either be moved inside or tossed and replaced in the spring.
Did you know that winter is actually the best time of year to start making a landscape plan? If you’re thinking about adding a water feature to your property next spring, get in touch with VistaPro Landscape & Design now! We’ll begin the process of custom designing your water feature and the rest of your landscape, so that we’re ready to construct and install everything at the first signs of spring.
Contact our team today to discuss a unique water feature for your property!