A slight chill in the air, days shortening, and the shedding of leaves from trees, all signs autumn is here again. To prepare your pond for its winter hibernation requires some special consideration. Pond maintenance tasks for autumn will vary depending on your pond’s location. To help your aquatic plants and fish through the colder months, we’ve put together a checklist to ensure your pond is healthy when it comes back to life in spring.
1. Remove Fallen Leaves and Debris
As autumn sets in your pond may have leaves and foliage on the surface and settled at bottom. As these decay, they produce toxic gases that can harm your fish, it’s a good idea to get these removed before the winter sets in. It’s not vital to remove every single leaf, but it’s best to try to remove as many as possible.
If you have a pond skimmer, it will do a good job of removing leaves and debris from the surface. If you notice any which have settled on the bottom, it’s best to remove them before they start to decay. If the thought of getting cold and wet don’t appeal and you don’t own a pair of waders, you can use a pond net to remove them. If your pond water is turning brown, you’ll know there is too much organic matter accumulating.
2. Install a Pond Net
Installing a protective pond netting on your pond before the autumn leaves start to fall is the best way to manage leaf and debris control. This makes the maintenance much easier over the winter period. When the leaves begin to gather on the netting, carefully roll it up and discard the leaves, then roll the net back out over the pond again.
If you don’t install netting, you’ll get a build-up of leaves and debris at the bottom of the pond that will need removing. Leaving a build-up of leaves and debris which will make maintenance in the spring a larger job, and can harm any fish in the pond.
3. Trim Aquatic Planting
Falling leaves and foliage from outside the pond aren’t the only source of debris for your pond. Any planting on the marginal shelves, and within the pond itself need trimming this time of the year.
Trim back any hardy marginal aquatic plants to around 2 inches (5cm) above the water. This helps to keep any dead foliage from hanging in or dropping into the pond.
Waterlilies show their dislike for the colder months with yellowing leaves and fewer flowers, when they start to show these signs, trim back the leaves and stems to 2″ – 3″ (5cm – 7.5cm) above the base of the plant. This keeps any dead foliage from decomposing in the water over the Autumn and Winter months.
4. Relocate Hardy Waterlilies
If your pond has hardy waterlilies still in their pots, now is the time to move them to the deepest part of the pond where the temperature will be warmer. Over the winter they need a period of dormancy.
5. Stop Feeding Fish
When the temperature starts to drop down to 10ͦc, it’s time to stop feeding your fish. They need time to get ready to hibernate, it’s best to avoid any metabolic complications while in this state.