Winterizing Your Pond

Leaves and debris

  1. High concentrations of leaves will make ammonia compounds
  2. Tea colored water indicates a high concentration of leaf debris

To restore water quality

  1. Dechlorinate first
  2. Change out 10% – 20% of the water
  3. Activated charcoal filters also work to restore water quality
  4. Skimmer boxes help to filter out debris
  5. Add protective netting
  6. Remove as many leaves as possible


  1. Tropicals – throw out or try to winter over indoors
  2. Hearty varieties – Treat like perennials, cut back to about 2″ of the water surface or cut back 2″ – 12″ for marginals such as iris, rushes, and grasses
  3. Papyrus – move indoors and treat as a houseplant
  4. Parrot’s Feather – may or may not come back depending on the variety
  5. Hearty Water Lilies
  • They will die back on their own
  • Remove dead pods and blooms – to determine if a bloom is new or dead, a dead bloom will squirt water
  • Cut back stems to 2″ – 3″ above the base of the soil
  • Don’t cut back new red leaves, leave them
  • Don’t let the crown of the lily freeze – this is generally 8″ or below the water surface
  • Leave lilies in their pots


  1. Most goldfish and Koi are winter hearty
  2. Switch to a low temperature food at 50
  3. Stop feeding fish at 40
  4. To survive, fish generally need 2′ of pond depth
  5. Fish need oxygen and a proper gas exchange – to maintain a proper gas exchange, put a bubbler in front of the skimmer box to maintain an opening allowing CO2 and ammonia to dissipate

You can leave the pond running all winter or you can turn it off – if you choose to turn it off, you will need to winterize it

  1. Remove all the water from the pipes
  2. Remove, clean, and inspect the pump(s)
  3. Store the pump(s) in a frost-free location and submerge pump(s) in a bucket of water to maintain seals and gaskets
  4. Remove and store mechanical filters in a dry location
  5. Remove and clean biological filters – biological filters will need to be cleaned once per year, preferably in the spring
  6. Pressurized filters will need to be drained and stored empty

This article was taken from an excerpt of a presentation done for the Colorado Water Garden Society by BR&D Landscape on September 12, 2009.

BR&D Landscape, Bud & Debbi Kiebler, Castle Rock, Colorado, 303-660-5015

About dorothym

I am the Secretary of the Colorado Water Garden Society.
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