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If you care for your yard, you likely have all of the important items knocked off your list: mowing the lawn for the last time before fall, raking the leaves, covering your vulnerable plants. You name it, you have done it and you feel like you are properly prepared for winter.

Then, a week after you have completed everything, you realize that you have done nothing to protect your water features. It might not seem like that important of a thing to do, but if you do not properly prepare your water features for winter, it could wind up costing you a lot of time and money come next spring.

San Pietro Tiered Outdoor Fountain

To properly winterize your water features for the coming cold, you first need to determine which of your features is likely to freeze over, because this can cause things like the lines, pumps, or even the feature itself to crack and break from the cold.

Water features like small ponds with shallow basins, bird baths, and bubbling rocks are the most susceptible to this kind of damage or destruction as a direct result of freezing, so you might want to give these fixtures your attention first and foremost.

How to properly winterize your water features

There are several steps that you can take to properly winterize all of your water features for the coming cold. These are relatively easy to do and will definitely be worth your time given the amount of money that it can save you in the long run.

Clear the algae

Algae is common in most water features; this is not a problem in and of itself. If you find algae in your water features, you should use a water-activated granular algaecide to get rid of it. Make sure that you properly read and follow the directions stated.

Persistent staining from algae typically means that you have to drain the vault or pond so that you can scrub it completely clean. Should you decide to do this, make sure that you refill the feature before the harshest point of winter arrives so that you can avoid damaging the pond or the pond-free features.

Remove any plants

This is something that you can do as late as the first frost. Once you have successfully removed all of the plants from your features, you need to make sure that you clean the plant debris from the pond’s bottom surface. If you use a pond-free feature, make sure that you clean the bottom of the pump vault.

After you have removed the plants, you need to decide if it is worth your time saving them through the winter. If you decide you want to replace them or simply go without them, you can just trash them and reconsider that setup when the weather turns warm once again.

Make sure to drain everything

This is essential for everything, whether you are winterizing a fountain, a pond, or some small water feature. This is because any water that remains in the lines can potentially freeze in the lines, causing them to crack and break. These lines can be expensive and difficult to replace and will cost you a lot of time and money.

Make sure that you drain all the water, including those hard-to-reach small places and recesses. You have to do this before the first frost occurs so that any water that you don’t get to will evaporate out of the lines before they have a chance to freeze over.

Remove the pumps

Should you leave water in the pumps, that water in the pump will freeze and then exert pressure on the outer casing of the pump itself. This kind of pressure can cause cracks in the pump that allows water to penetrate into the interior portion of the pump. This is where the electrical lines and working parts are.

When the pump is damaged, it should go without saying that it will stop working and will ultimately need to be replaced. The smartest solution here is to simply remove the pump for the duration of the winter. This can save you a huge headache even if you take the precaution of draining all of the water first. 

If the pump that you use is less than 16 inches in depth, you can remove it and store it indoors. This way, it will not freeze while laying in the yard or even stored in an unheated garage. It cannot be overly emphasized what a pain it is to have one of these pumps freeze and break; it is a hassle that you don’t want to have to deal with.

If you have smaller water features, you might be better served to just disassemble them and store them indoors in a heated space. This can prevent them from becoming weathered or damaged during a particularly harsh winter. Of course, it isn’t as easy as just leaving them outside all winter, but they will look much better by the time spring rolls around and they will work as they should, too.

Water features that can run through the winter weather

There are some climates that are warm enough that you can keep the water features out and running through the winter. If your region doesn’t get freezing temperatures, you are likely okay to allow your features to keep running even through the winter months. It is when the temperature drops below freezing that you need to be concerned with freezing lines that can lead to cracks and damage.

Whatever features you have, you need to determine their importance and what risk they face during the winter. If you face awful winters, it might be best served to move those features into a warm, enclosed space. For the larger features that aren’t easily moved, make sure to remove all the pumps and store them properly.

Taking these precautions will prolong the life of your features, leaving them looking good and working properly for a long, long time. Letting them face the harsh winters can only mean disaster and a shorter life.