Grow Guide: Preparing a Pond for Winter

Gardening expert Felder Rushing provides tips on getting your water garden ready for winter.

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Pond

Pond

Photo by: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

Q: Is there anything I need to do to get the fish in my little water garden ready for winter?

ANSWER:

Absolutely! In addition to preparing the pond in general for winter, your fish will need some help getting ready for and then coping with cold water. I know it’s a heart breaker, but if you are passionate about feeding your fish, it’s time to slack off. Once water temperatures dip below 60 degrees F, try using a wheat-based fish food, which is more easily digested by fish with slowing metabolisms. Wean the fish toward one- or two-time a week feedings, and when the water temperature dips into the 40s, stop feeding them completely. 

Also keep in mind that raccoons and other predators find sluggish fish easy prey; either put something in the pond your fish can hide under, or stretch a lightweight but strong netting over the pond (which also helps keep a lot of falling leaves from clogging the pond).  

Because solid ice can trap gases given off by decaying organic matter, always keep an open area in the ice. But use warm water to melt the ice -- banging on the ice with a hammer can stun and even kill fish. I would also not run a water pump during extremely cold weather, because cold water holds more oxygen than warm water; your fish will make it just fine without regular water circulation. 

During general fall pond preparation, regularly dip out as many falling leaves as you can, to prevent their sinking and turning into nasty sludge.

Gardening expert and certified wit Felder Rushing answers your questions and lays down some green-wisdom. You can get more of your Felder fix at www.slowgardening.net.

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