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Autumn and winter are understandably the toughest seasons for garden ponds. You must tackle these essential pond care tasks before the coldest weather returns.
We have a simple, six-step plan that will ensure your fish are healthy, your pond plants thrive, and it all looks beautiful when the warmer weather comes back, and it attracts a variety of wildlife back to your garden.
Remove fallen leaves
Crisp and crunchy, orange, golden, and brown autumn leaves are gorgeous, but if they fall into the pond, they begin to decay and disrupt the fragile ecosystem of the pond, potentially killing or harming your fish and other wildlife that lives there.
Make it a priority to regularly rake leaves away once they start to fall, and remove any from the borders of your pond too. If your pond is close to a tree, it could be worth investing in netting to cover the pond or investing in a pond filter.
Keep your pond free from ice
Don’t allow your pond to become fully covered by ice. Any gases from rotting plants or organisms will begin to build up in the water, reducing oxygen levels. A floating pond de-icer, a clean ball, or a clean plastic bottle with a few stones inside can help prevent this.
If a cold snap catches you unawares, you can simply pour a small amount of warm water onto a patch of the ice or fill a container or saucepan with boiling water and rest it on the ice to create a hole, then use one of the above methods. However, do not smash the ice, as it will shock your fish and other pond life.
Give your pond plants some love
As well as rotting leaves, dying plants can also disrupt a pond’s ecosystem, so make sure you take care of your pond plants before it gets too cold.
Remove any dead or dying leaves from your pond plants, and ensure the baskets are at least a couple of inches below the water to protect them from severe frosts. Transfer any non-hardy plants that will not survive being submerged in icy water to the greenhouse and keep damp, and cover any vulnerable bog plants such as Gunnera and Zantedeschia with mulch a..
Cut down on fish food
Fish do not hibernate, but they do descend deeper into the warmer waters of your pond, and their metabolisms will significantly slow down, meaning they do not need feeding as often. Stick to one or two feedings per week in autumn, and stop feeding them altogether once temperatures drop below 10ºC.
Beware of predators
As well as helping to protect your pond from falling leaves, netting can also help protect your fish from hungry predators looking for a snack, as the colder months mean there is less food around for them.
Consider switching off your pond pump
If temperatures drop below freezing, it’s a good idea to turn off your pond pump. Cold water is already oxygenated, and the metabolism of your fish will have slowed down anyway. It’s also a good opportunity to give the pump a good clean and service so it’s ready for warmer weather.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to prepare your garden pond for the colder seasons, so why not get to it before it gets too chilly outside!
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