A guide to keeping ponds safe from ice in your winter garden
A pond adds some much-needed dynamic to a garden, but there comes a time when you need to consider winterising it. If you live in an area where water freezes, it will be a big mistake to make no effort to winterise this feature. Even if you live somewhere with a milder climate, expert landscapers recommend that you take some steps to prepare the water feature for the cold season ahead. In this guide, we will take a closer look at what you can do for your pond before winter comes. In case you have other water features in your garden as well, don’t miss to read our blog on the topic.
First, let’s see why you should winterise the pond
You may already be thinking that ponds in nature don’t have anyone to help them prepare for winter, so why should you bother with this? Well, the answer is rather simple. First of all, natural ponds don’t come with any equipment, whereas it is more than likely that your pond has some, which is vulnerable to water freezes. Then there is also the fact that natural ponds do not have that many fish, while some backyard ponds are all about the fish. Natural ponds also don’t come with non-hardy plants, which demand attention during colder months of the year.
What happens in the winter months?
If you have chosen hardy fish and plants for your backyard pond, you will not need to fear much about them in regards to winter. However, there is one factor that you must consider in any case: it is ice.
When temperatures drop below freezing, ice forms on the water surface, cold air temperature supports this process, whereas the sun stops it. Moving water and wind can also be a hindrance to ice formation. These forces manifest in the winter season, and they win with the advancement of winter. Once the ice forms above water, it traps some of the heat underneath, essentially serving the role of a blanket.
However, with the ice on top, there is also less gas exchange. The CO2 that fish and other living organisms produce in the pond can no longer escape due to the ice. There is also no oxygen entering the water. Some of the gases of decomposing organic matter build up in the bottom of the pond. If the layer of ice ever gets any thicker, it will reduce the amount of water, allowing for some of the aforementioned gases to reach critical levels.
Keeping ice from forming in your winter garden
If you wish to prevent the formation of ice, you will need to consider one of these options:
- Keep the water moving – and the way to achieve this is to keep the pumping system running. Even if the water freezes in some areas, it should be fine when it is moving around a waterfall and the pump.
- Air pump – an air pump and the bubbles it creates can keep the water from freezing. However, you need to remember that the lower the temperature is, the more air you will need. An aquarium pump works well, so long as there is no extended period of too cold weather.
- Pond heater – there are pond heaters, which you can use to keep the water from freezing. All you have to do is drop them in the pond in the autumn, and they will do their job. There are also advanced devices, which combine bubbling air with heat. Bear in mind that you are going to see an increase in operational costs due to the heater.
Now that you know more about ice in the pond during winter, you can better plan and prepare for it.