Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fall Maintenance for the Water Garden

Every autumn falling leaves are inevitable, so it’s best to be prepared and minimize the maintenance you’ll need to do in the late fall and early spring. You may want to cover your pond with Aquascape Pond Netting until the bulk of the leaves have fallen. This is the time of year when you also need to make a decision about your water feature. Should you shut it down or leave it running through the winter?

Option #1: Keep Your Pond Running

A pond can be a beautiful addition to your winter landscape. The waterfalls create beautiful ice sculptures, as well as create a natural water hole for wildlife. If you choose to keep your pond running, please keep these factors in mind:

• You must stay aware of your pond, although the weather may not be very inviting.

• Do not keep the pond running if you out of town for long periods of time.

• You may need to add water periodically since water is lost during ice formation.

• Due to power outages, if a pump is off for a significant period of time during freezing temperatures, it will not be able to start and will need to be unplugged and disconnected if possible.

• Once the lines are frozen, you cannot turn your pond back on until it thaws, which is usually in spring.

• If you have a large pond, you may still require a small pump or heater near the skimmer opening.

Option #2: Shut Your Pond Down

Most people prefer to stay warm, giving up their waterfall until the spring thaw. If you choose to shut your pond down, just follow these simple steps.

• Most pond owners shut their ponds down in the middle to end of November after most of the leaves have fallen.

• Remove as much debris as you can from the pond.

• Cut back the lilies and any marginal plants.

• If you have a rubber coupling connecting your pump, use a flat head screwdriver to loosen the hose clamp and remove the pump, or if you have a newer one, remove the black collar from the pump turning it counterclockwise until it is disconnected. (Water from the biological filter will pour back through the plumbing into the pond.)

• Store the pump in a bucket of water inside. You can clean out the biological filter and filter media if you choose. (You can wait for spring to do this also.)

• If you have fish, install a bubbler. (Aquascape’s AquaForce 1000 is suggested.) You can use a bubbler alone or in conjunction with a floating heater. Place the bubbler on a shelf just above the deepest area. The discharge pipe (don’t put on a fountain head) should be submerged just under the water’s surface.

• If you choose to use a heater, place far enough away from the bubbler that it is not getting hit by water.

• Be sure the skimmer and biological filter are cleaned out before turning them on again in the spring.

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