Most of us have already prepared our gardens for
winter by pulling up faded annuals, mulching perennial
beds and raking up fallen leaves. Autumn clean-up
comes almost instinctively to seasoned gardeners.
But what about the water garden? Is your pond ready
for winter? Even the most successful water gardeners
sometimes wonder if the pond will "make it " through
the winter. Well stop worrying. Let's recap the
important steps necessary to over-winter the pond and
discuss how it relates to a beautiful water garden next
spring. -- See article at right -->
|Caring for Aquatic Plants During Winter
Long after the impatiens have been pulled out, water
gardeners are still hoping for that last lily bloom. For
some reason, we want to squeeze every leaf, bud and
blossom out of our aquatic plants before winter.
Unfortunately, cold weather often comes before we've
trimmed the cattails or pruned the lilies. Wait too long
and all those beautiful leaves will fall off and rot in the
water. Trim bog and marsh plants such as papyrus, taro
and cattails, before frost hits.
Pull out the hardy water lilies and trim off all the leaves.
Yes, even that last bud! Put all the potted plants into
the deepest area of the pond to prevent freeze
damage. Tropical lilies won't survive the winter and are
often treated as annuals, discarded in autumn.
Some water gardeners have saved tropical lilies by
storing them in peat moss. Trim off the leaves and
roots and cover the rhizomes in a tray of damp (not
wet) peat moss. The peat moss has antiseptic
properties and helps inhibit rotting of the rhizome.
Read on... »
|Let Nature Take It's Course?
All summer long, you've enjoyed the tranquility of the
water garden-beautiful foliage, sounds of trickling water
and colorful fish eagerly awaiting a handful of food.
The water garden didn't get that way by itself. You
added the right kinds of plants and fish to create a
balanced ecosystem. The water gardens we create look
beautiful and sustain life because we follow nature's
rules. It's the same during the winter months.
Despite all outward appearances, the pond is active
even when the water is cold or even frozen. Dead
leaves, algae, insects and solid fish waste that have
accumulated over the summer slowly break down during
the winter months.
This natural decomposition uses oxygen and produces
small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas that
normally never reaches a harmful level. Few water
gardeners realize that the pond must be balanced in
winter too. Fish, frogs and other aquatic life are
especially sensitive to poor water quality in winter.
Full Story »
|Wildlife in Winter Ponds
This may seem contradictory, but you may want to
leave a little bit of debris in the pond when preparing it
While some water gardeners net out the fish,
completely drain the water and scrub out the pond,
refilling it with fresh water. Frogs, tadpoles, snails and
microscopic pond life need to burrow down into mud
and leaves to survive the winter. So, some debris can
Fish also hibernate on the bottom, settling in around a
bed of leaves and mud. We usually recommend
removing about 90% of the leaves and silt that has
accumulated over the summer, but this is subjective
and depends on the amount of wildlife in and around
Leave the rest as "bedding material." You'll be amazed
at the diversity of pond life that emerges in spring. But
keep in mind that tree leaves will continually blow into
the pond as long as the water isn't frozen, so we do
recommend covering the pond with bird netting.
More On This... »
|Product Review - The Aquabead Filter
Even though it's drawing closer and closer to winter in
most parts of the country, it's still warm and sunny
here in Florida and in many parts of the country. And I
just can't wait to rave about the new pond filter I just
installed on my 3000 gallong KOI pond!
We finished the pond last month, but it quickly started
to turn murky and a little green. Even though I didnt
have a filter on the pond yet, I really wanted to bring
my prized Israeli KOI down from Virginia where we
used to be. With the hurricanes up along the Mid-
Eastern states last month, a few of them had died from
a 4 day power loss - so it was time to bring them down
to their new home in Florida.
With 5 new KOI in the pond, most of them over 14" and
eating like crazy, the pond really started to get a little
dirty. So, my friend Gary Cryer at GC Tek suggested I
put one of his Aquabead biological filtration systems on
the pond. I've been in the pond business for almost
ten years now, and have seen lots of filters come and
go, but I was really impressed with what he sent me.
We decided to go with an Aquabead 4.25 filter, a Zapp-
Pure stainless steel UV sterilizer, and a 1/3 Hp Dragon
pump. With 2 bottom drains in the pond leading
directly to the pump, I thought it would clear it pretty
fast - but I was amazed to find that I could almost see
to the bottom of the pond THE VERY NEXT DAY. And
24 hours later, you could almost read the date off a
quarter all the way at the bottom of the pond!
Click on the link below to see some pictures, and for a
more in depth review.
<< Have a Pond? We'd Love to See It! -- You Can
Send in Pictures of Your Backyard Paradise to Us at:
we'll post is in the upcoming 'Pond of the Week' section
of our newsletter >>
Click Here To See the Photos »
|Overwintering Pond Fish
The metabolism of koi and goldfish is controlled primarily
by water temperature. As the water cools, pond fish
require less protein in their diet. When koi and goldfish
are fed high-protein food in cool water, the excess
protein is excreted as ammonia from the gills. The
microscopic organisms that make up the biological filter
(and consume ammonia) also slow down in cooler
Improper seasonal feeding can lead to a build-up of
toxic ammonia, which stresses fish and reduces their
winter survivability. When the water temperature drops
to approximately 65° F, start feeding with wheat germ
or special Spring/Autumn fish food, as we've mentioned.
This type of fish food is better suited for the dietary
requirements of pond fish in cool water and won't
pollute the water with excess ammonia. Some water
gardeners continue to feed their fish until they no
longer come to the surface but usually recommend that
you stop feeding your pond fish when the water
temperature falls below 50° F.
There is no need to worry about "frozen fish" if a
section of the pond is at least 18 inches deep. Pond
fish will seek the deepest part of the pond and over-
winter there until the water warms in the spring. If your
pond is less than 18 inches deep, the fish may freeze
during a harsh winter. Check with your local pond
supplier if you live in an area with harsh winters.