Winter Pond Maintenance

Tips for winterizing your backyard pond

Preparing your garden pond before the cold winter temperatures begin is essential for ensuring that your pond and your fish survive the harsh winter conditions.

In this article you’ll learn some handy winter pond maintenance tips to care for your fish, plants and pond equipment over winter.

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pond in winter

Winter pond maintenance for temperate climates

If you live in an area with mild winter temperatures, there are only a few steps you need to take to get your pond ready for winter.

Removing leaves and other debris that has fallen into the pond will help to reduce hydrogen sulfide gases building up in the pond over winter. These gases are toxic to fish and beneficial bacteria in the pond.

Cleaning the pond before winter will ensure that you don’t have a big mess to clean up in spring.

frozen pond

Adding cold water bacteria to the pond can also help to break down waste material in the pond and keep the water cleaner during winter.

It’s also a good idea to cut back any wilted plants in and around the edges of the pond.

In temperate climates you can keep your waterfall running over the winter months and this will help to keep the pond aerated.

The metabolism of fish slows down during cool weather so you won’t have to feed them over winter.

Fish pond in winter

Winter pond maintenance for cold climates

In cold climates there are a few extra things you need do to ensure that your fish stay healthy over winter and your pump and filter aren’t damaged by the freezing temperatures.

If you don’t have fish in your backyard pond, then it doesn’t matter if the pond freezes over.

Just make sure that your pump and filter are stored somewhere where they won’t freeze during winter and drain the water out of the pipes so that they don’t crack.

If you live somewhere that is cold enough for your pond to freeze over it’s important to ensure that there is a hole in the ice to allow carbon dioxide and other gases to escape.

If gases build up in the water it can cause the water to become acidic and the fish can die.

Frozen pond water

There are a few ways to create a hole in the ice; you can gently pour some lukewarm water on a small section of the ice or place a hot pan on the ice to make a hole.

You can also use a pond de-icer to keep a hole open in the ice.

Don’t try to break the ice because it can stress the fish and cause them to die.

Keep an eye on the water level of your pond over winter and top it up if necessary because there will still be a small amount of evaporation in the colder months.

winter garden pond

Pond Pump Maintenance

The end of fall is a good time to pull your pump out of the pond and give the pump and filter a thorough clean.

You can store the pump in a deep section of the pond where it’s not likely to freeze or you can place it in a bucket of water and store it in a heated garage or basement over winter.

Keeping the pump submerged in water will protect the seals inside the pump and prevent them from cracking.

Garden pond in winter

Winter pond plant care

Water Lilies are hardy pond plants that don’t need much care over winter.

Just cut back any leaves that have turned yellow and submerge the pots in a deep section of the pond where they won’t freeze. [1]

You can do the same thing with Lotus plants and they’ll survive during the winter as long as the tubers don’t freeze.

Tropical plants can be removed from the pond and brought inside before the first frost of the season.

backyard pond in winter

So there are my tips for winterizing your garden pond and keeping your fish alive and healthy over winter.


Do you have any other winter pond maintenance tips? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest?  I have boards dedicated to Garden Ponds and Water Gardens that you may enjoy.

Winter pond maintenance tips
pond maintenance in winter

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener with a special interest in ponds and water gardens. For over a decade, I've been designing and creating beautiful gardens that feature stunning water features, from small garden ponds to large water gardens. Read more