Over the year I have meet quite a number of water gardeners so this article is directed to them or any of the readers who hope to become water gardeners … so that should pretty much cover everyone.
It is that time of year to clean out the pond for the winter so it will be in the best possible condition when spring arrives, hopefully sooner than later. By this time of year I have cut way back on the feeding of my fish and will stop all together in the next week or so. The fish metabolism has slowed way down and once the water temperature reaches 45 degrees fish stop digesting food, so any undigested food can become toxic to the fish.
Cut back the lily pads on your hardy water lilies and drop them to the deepest part of the pond. Tropical lilies usually do not winter-over. Marginal plants will winter over as long as the plant’s crown is a few inches below the water level. Get out as many leaves as you can. A net or a pond vacuum can be quite helpful, but nothing beats a chilly dip on a warm day if you really want to get it clean. Too many leaves left in the pond causes too much nitrogen in the pond which leads to algae in the spring along with other problems. Cut back other water plants and remove the dead. Check your skimmer and filters for debris. I leave my steam running all year; this provides circulation and keeps the pond from freezing solid on those rare occasions when it has gotten cold enough. An opening in the ice is necessary to release toxic gasses which can kill fish and plants. Don’t forget to check the water level occasionally. Evaporation may not be as big of a problem as it is in the summer, but it is still occurring, so don’t let the water get too low.