Winter is coming, are your ponds ready?
In just a few short weeks, freezing cold, wet weather, and snow will set in many parts of the country. Ponds and other man-made bodies of water will form a top-level sheet of ice (at the very least) or lose most of their vegetation during the annual winter fauna die-off.
While many golf courses and HOA’s will let nature take her course during the winter season, doing nothing in terms of maintenance and upkeep can have potentially negative consequences.
This is very true in climates that have frigid winters. The freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on a pond and the various life support systems (e.g., pumps & automatic feeders) that help keep it operational.
If you’d rather not face a maintenance headache in the spring of 2019 when things start to thaw out, we’ve come up with a few tips that you can do to keep your pond looking healthy and clean.
Remove Leave Debris
By now the area that your pond resides in has had a couple of pre-winter storms and the trees have lost almost all of their leaves. While it’s impractical to have a maintenance crew rake an entire golf course, it’s important that the leaves get cleaned up around the edge of the water.
As more storms come and the winds start to blow, the organic leaf matter will eventually be blown into the water. Once wet, the leaf will become water-logged and sink to the bottom of the pond. There is no oxygen at these depths which means beneficial bacteria can’t eat and begin the process of breaking down the organic matter.
As winter turns into spring and the big thaw starts to come, many ponds will experience a massive algae bloom on the first warm day of the season. When the sun combines with nutrient-rich waters (fed by decaying organic matter at the bottom of the pond), it doesn’t take much for nuisance algae blooms to take hold.
The more you rake and clean now, the less you’ll have to dredge in the future. Each leaf that falls into the water and makes its way to the bottom of the pond will stay there for many months, leeching rich nutrients into the water that will support nuisance algae outbreaks.
Turn off Mechanical Equipment
If you have any pumps or pipes that move water through the pond, now is the time to turn them off if you live in a part of the country where temperatures dip below freezing.
In many states, professional companies are called out to blow air into irrigation lines to remove drops of water that would otherwise freeze, expand, and cause costly damage.
If the pond has a biological filter, try to keep a steady trickle of water flowing over it if possible. This will help the pond get a head start when the temperatures start to warm up. If you plan on keeping a filter running through the winter months, be sure to take precautions to avoid water freezing in the lines or machinery.
Remove Dying Plant Foliage
If you’re fortunate enough to have a few days where the weather isn’t too cold, send a few maintenance guys to pick off the dead and dying plant foliage that clutters the shoreline.
While it may seem easier just to let it fall into the water and nature take its course, the organic matter will remain on the bottom of your pond and turn into a real buffet table for all sorts of nuisance plants and algae.
Most species of fish are well-equipped to survive freezing water temperatures and lack of food. Their metabolism automatically slows down at this time of year and makes it so that they don’t require a lot of nutrients to stay alive.
However, once the temps drop below the low 40’s, it’s time to stop feeding the fish until springtime. If the pond will freeze over, it’s best to add a floating deicer to the water. This will help facilitate the exchange of gases between the water and the air and promote a less stagnant pond. Fish and other aquatic wildlife will thank you.
If your pond suddenly gets algae outbreak after algae outbreak when the warm weather starts to return, you will most likely need to dredge it. As man-made bodies of water get older, they accumulate organic sediment that falls to the bottom and turns into a massive ball of food for nuisance plants and algae.
Once the weather starts to warm, give the professionals at American Underwater Services a call at (817) 377-8512. Our expert dredgers can travel to any state from our home base in Fort Worth, Texas to dredge your ponds and renew their lease on life!