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The Raymar Blog

How to Care for Your Pond in the Fall & Winter

Posted on August 27, 2021 
by Dan Wanders

Caring for your pond can be both fun and time-consuming.

Many of our clients have ponds, but find that the maintenance is a bit much for their taste — so they hire us to do it for them.

But if you’re an enterprising DIYer, you’ve come to the right place. Below is our guide to fall and winter pond maintenance — especially those bracingly cold Ontario winters! (If you’re looking for spring and summer, see our other post!)


Caring for your pond in the fall.

Fall can be a wonderful time to enjoy your garden pond — there are fewer bugs, more comfortable temperatures and the trees are showing off their glorious colours.

But it’s also the time to double down on your pond maintenance. When your pond is properly prepared for the winter, you can minimize problems in the spring.

  • Remove leaves and other debris so they don’t decay during the winter. During the fall, all sorts of garden waste can find its way into your pond. Fermentation gases that leach into the water are harmful to your fish (and give extra nutrients to unwanted algae).
  • Install some netting to catch tree leaves as they fall. If you have a lot of trees surrounding your pond, that also means a lot of leaves and debris. Scooping them out by hand can be time-consuming.
  • Reduce how much you feed your fish. When winter approaches, the digestion of your pond fish slows down. To avoid having undigested food kill your fish, stop completely when the water temperature dips below 50°F.
  • Bring tropical and non-hardy plants and fish inside to their winter home. If your pond is deep enough and doesn’t freeze solid, trim the foliage and move hardy submerged plants and water lilies to the deepest part of the pond.
  • Disconnect the filter and drain the pumps, water lines and fountains. Store them inside until spring.
  • Add cold water bacteria to help keep pond water clean during the cooler months. This will also help minimize excessive algae in the spring (and keep your fish happy).

Caring for your pond in the winter.

Being able to relax and enjoy your pond in the summer means taking proper care of it in the cold weather too.

Here’s what you need to do to put your pond to bed for the winter.

  • Do a final check for leaves and debris to make sure there isn’t anything left in your pond to decay.
  • Make sure reeds and grass stalks are tall enough to stick out of the ice, allowing oxygen in and dangerous gases out (like a straw).
  • Keep a portion of your pond ice-free using a bubbler or floating pond de-icer. Never try to shatter the ice by pounding on it because the shockwaves could damage or kill the fish.
  • Install nets and other deterrents around your pond. During the winter, food can be scarce. Be vigilant and protect your fish from hungry predators by keeping them out with nets and deterrents!
  • Prune back overhanging branches and brush the snow off your pond so your pond can get as much sunlight as possible. Sun allows the plants below the ice to continue the process of photosynthesis, which replenishes the oxygen levels in the water.
  • Float a piece of wood or a ball to make a break in the ice to protect your pond from the pressure of expanding ice.
  • Consider installing an aerator or small pump to ensure your fish get a steady supply of oxygen and don’t freeze during the winter months.

A pond is an exciting part of your landscape design — and if you want to enjoy it year after year, you need to keep it healthy.

Not keen on doing it all yourself? Consider a pond maintenance package from Raymar.