Winterizing Your Pond

Preparing your pond for the winter does not have to be a difficult job. Just follow these few steps and your pond will be ready come spring time.

Fall Leaves and Debris:

Placing a pond net over your feature before the leaves begin falling is an easy way to minimize debris in the pond. Once the majority of leaves have fallen, simply remove the netting, disregard the leaves and store the netting away for the next time you need it.

If you did not get a chance to get that net up this season you most likely have a buildup of leaves and debris at the bottom of your pond. Using a long handled pond net, you can easily scoop out the majority of this debris. If you for spring just remember that the decomposing debris will certainly create a bigger mess next year.

It is also a good idea to trim and remove any dying or dead plant material around the pond and in the marginal areas as they too will decompose over winter leaving a mess next spring. Submerged hardy plants like lilies should be cut back above the base of the plant.

Cold Water Bacteria:

Add a cold water bacteria solution to help keep your pond water clean and clear. This beneficial bacteria solution is adapted to work in temperatures lower than 50° F to help reduce organic material and reduce ammonia, nitrite and other excess nutrients. Regular use of this bacteria solution throughout the cold months will help maintain water quality and reduce spring maintenance.

Healthy Fish:

As it gets cooler and the water temperatures begin dipping into the lower 70°F, your fish will have a more difficult time digesting their usual food. Switching to a wheat germ base fish food will keep them happy and full of the nutrients they need to bulk up for the winter months while being easily digestible. Be careful not to overfeed. You can feed 2-3 times a day what they’ll eat in 5 minutes or less, then remove any excess food. When the water temperatures fall below 50°F, it is time to stop feeding.


Keep Your Feature Running:

Ice formations on one of our display pond with basalt columns.

Running your feature year round can provide ever-changing and strikingly beautiful ice formations that create a wonderful addition to your winter landscape. If this is the route for you, make sure to top off your feature periodically throughout the winter as evaporation is still happening. Also inspect streams and channels for ice formations that may dam up the water flow and lead to unnecessary water loss.

Shutting Down Your Pond:

If you decide to shut down your pond for the winter months, here are tips on what you’ll need to do:

- Remove the pump from the pond, storing it in a warm place.

- Drain water from any pond plumbing as the freeze thaw cycle can cause pipe cracking within the system

- Remove and clean any filter media used in your system and store them in a warm place along with your pump.

- As the pump is no longer running, oxygenating the water is important. Place a small re-circulating aeration pump on the top shelf of your pond. This will help keep a hole in your iced over pond to allow harmful gasses to escape and oxygen to get into the water.

- In areas where the aeration pump will not be enough to keep a hole in the forming ice, consider adding a pond heater. This product will prevent a portion of your pond from freezing over and allow for the necessary gasses to transfer in and out of the water.

Birds migrate to fresh water sources during the cold winter months.

Taking these steps to prepare your pond for winter will help your fish survive hibernation while also making your spring maintenance easier. If you need any help in preparing this winter, contact Cedar Run Landscapes.

Getting over Winter; Prepping for Spring

What a winter in Southeastern PA — record snowfall, stiff winds, and cold temperatures had quite an effect on our daily lives and activities. The extreme weather has also impacted our landscapes.

Spring is on the way at last, and right now is a crucial time for getting your garden ready for the blooming season!

Below is some information that I shared with Cedar Run Landscapes customers and friends in my last e-newsletter on common problems for plants we’ve seen this winter, and what you can do to help when prepping for Spring:

evergreens

Many small leaved evergreens such as Hollies and Boxwoods have been splayed open by the snow. There are numerous broken branches and stems that will need to be properly pruned to allow for good healing.

yew

Shrubs that have soft wood like Yews and Arborvitae have branches and stems that have peeled apart. These also need careful wound-cleaning.

bamboo

Some plants that are marginally evergreen in our area (USDA plant hardiness zone 6b) such as Heavenly Bamboo, have leaf scorch from the cold winds and reflection of sunlight from snow. Fortunately, most years when this occurs, the plants will drop the leaves in the spring when new foliage appears.

Getting Ready for Spring!

* Over the next few weeks, it will be important to remove broken and damaged branches from shrubs and trees to clean up gardens and prepare for the season to come. Proper pruning, feeding and monitoring of landscape plantings helps them to recover from a harsh winter. Good mulching practices conserve moisture and keep the sun off of plant roots, which also helps. The Penn State Agricultural Extension Service has some great advice on dealing with the winter’s damage in this article.

* Unfortunately, some plantings will need to be removed. Plants that do not respond by regaining their stature after the weight of the snow is removed, or those that are no longer esthetically pleasing may need to make way for new plantings. The PA Horticultural Society has compiled a list of excellent plants that will thrive in our region. These Gold Medal Plants provide some great choices. Of course, Cedar Run Landscapes can assist with your selection, design, and planting.

* The winter has also affected outdoor environments including patios and walls. With all of the excess moisture from heavy snow melt, many hardscaping features are growing moss, some may have shifted or settled, and all could benefit from freshening up. Please give us a call so that we can help with such issues. Visit our website FixMyPatio.com to learn more about the hardscaping services we offer.

If you’d like to receive more garden and landscapes tips like these in your inbox, please email me at Info@CedarRunLandscapes.com, and I’ll add you to the mailing list for our monthly e-newsletter