8 Steps to Closing Up a Backyard Pond for Winter

Backyard pond

Ponds are one of the most amazing features you can have in your backyard. It provides you fun and relaxation while feeding your fish. Even cleaning and maintaining it lightens your mood. However, a pond isn’t meant to be there all year round. With your delicate fish and plants, you will have to prepare to close it when winter gets closer.

As winter approaches, it is best to slowly close your backyard pond in late fall. Start by slowly feeding the fish as the temperature drops, trim and prune aquatic plants, clean the pond, and clear it from any debris and leaves.

It is also recommended to turn off the filter and pumps. Carefully remove the pond’s equipment, clean it, and store it in a heated place. To prevent your fish from drowning, you can use a de-icer to keep the gas exchange in motion.

In this article, we will tackle the steps to close a backyard pond in preparation for winter. We will also discuss the actions required if you have an unpleasant pond.

If you want a complete old pond guide read this article.


Steps to Close a Backyard Pond

Ponds that aren’t properly closed before winter can cause damages to expensive equipment and kill your delicate plants and fishes. Taking the right actions to safely close your pond saves you time, money, and effort on maintenance. It also provides your aquatic beings with higher survival rates.

Here are some steps to close a backyard pond.


  1. Slow Feed When the Temperatures Drop

Fish feeding must be slowed down as soon as the water temperature drops. Change the fish food to less protein, and as the fish activity slows down, feed them less. The fishes in your pond will begin to hibernate when the water temperature reaches 50°F, and feeding should be stopped then.


  1. Trim and Relocate Aquatic Plants

Relocate aquatic plants that are delicate and will not survive winter weather. Some of your hardy plants can be overwintered in the deep parts of your ponds. Before putting them in those parts, trim the damaged and dead parts of the plants to prevent water contamination and minimize decay.

Leaving fish like koi in your pond is only good for them if your pond is 18” deep and has minimal to no water circulation.

Goldfish, bubble-eyed fish, and lionhead are delicate fish and should be kept inside during winter. As you know, warm water sinks to the bottom of your pond. These delicate fish won’t hang out on the surface, so no need to worry about your fish getting frozen or too cold.


  1. Clean the Pond

Clean your pond in the late fall to keep the fish and plants healthy as winter approaches. By doing this, it will be easier for the pond to regenerate in the spring. Cleaning thoroughly means removing muddy mass, excess debris, trimming the plants, and making some necessary repairs.


  1. Clear Away Leaves

Leaves that fall into your pond gradually decay and raise ammonia levels. When your pond water’s ammonia concentration is high, it can become fatal and toxic to the fish.

Make sure to remove the leaves inside your pond. Once you’ve cleared and cleaned it, install a pond net to catch leaves, branches, and other debris falling into your pond.

To secure your pond net, suspend it 18” above the surface of the water. Tie the edge of the net tightly to prevent debris from slipping through. Check your pond’s net from time to time and make sure it doesn’t sag into the pond.


  1. Shut Off Moving Water and Pumps

Shut off your waterfalls, fountains, and UV clarifier, and remove the pond’s pump to save it for winter, as the fish slows down in the fall. Fish will start hibernating in the warmest water, meaning at the bottom of the pond. Moving water during winter could cool the pond and put the fish and plants at risk.

Shutting off moving water and pumps won’t harm the fish because cold water contains more oxygen than warm water. Fish use less oxygen and tend to breathe slower during winter. You don’t need a filter at this period because bacteria won’t grow in it.

As you turn off the pumps and filter, make sure to entirely drain your pond pump accessories, such as your plumbing pipes, external pumps, and UV supplies. Double-check that every last drop of water has been drained out if you’re storing the supplies in the garage or shed.


  1. Remove, Clean, and Store Filters

Your pond’s filter will no longer be needed nor used when water is not moving in the pond. Thus, carefully remove and clean it inside out. If it needs repairs, plan for a replacement or upgrade it. You can install the filter back once winter is over.


  1. Install a De-Icer

Fish have a low metabolism during winter and need carbon dioxide and oxygen to avoid suffocating. To keep a small portion of your pond’s surface liquid, use a floating de-icer. A de-icer will keep the gas exchange in motion even if the pond freezes. A blockage in gas exchange can kill the fishes in the pond.

Avoid toxic chemicals and do not use a de-icer on the entire pond surface for it could cool the water and endanger the fish.


  1. Store Equipment Properly

Once you’ve cleaned your pond, it is ready for winter. Properly store your pumps, filters, cleaning gears, and other pond equipment in a safe, heated place. If delicate fish and plants should be overwintered indoors, take the necessary steps to keep them healthy while they are in a temporary shelter.


How Make an Unpleasant Pond the Way You Want it.

People don’t like to have a pond that doesn’t work and look like they want it to look. Sometimes it feels like trying to get it the way they want it takes time, energy, and money.

Having an pond that is not as we like it is stressful. So, here are some actions you can take.


  1. Clean Your Pond

As you look around your pond, everything might look normal, but below the surface, there are might be many issues, from algae building up to blocked filters.

To prevent these things from happening in your precious pond, take action. Regularly clean your pond from any debris, starting from the bottom toward the water surface. Check your filters and pumps, and make sure they are clean and well-functioning. Trim and prune your aquatic plants as well, and immediately remove dead and decaying foliage around your pond.


  1. Transforming an Unpleasant Pond

If the unpleasant pond is the only water source that can add emphasis to your backyard, it’s time to clean and beautify it. Here are few ways on how to do so:

Renovate the pond and make it look the same while making it more functional than before. Keep it simple and low maintenance so you can have more time to enjoy.

Transform your unwanted pond into a pondless water feature for lesser work.

For a new look, you can turn your unwanted pond into a fountain scene.


  1. Other Actions You Can Take with an Unpleasant Pond 


Established ponds take some time and manpower to recover and revive. Here are other ways to recover an unpleasant pond:


  • Remove dead plants and fish from the pond. If there are alive fish and plants, transfer them to a bucket or bin for temporary accommodation. Use the water from the pond to avoid shocking the fish.
  • Remove any pumps or filters that are still attached to the pond. Cut any electrical cords that run in the pond and remove them from the area.
  • Drain the water in the pond using a bucket. Once the pond is empty, remove any debris from inside the pond.
  • Afterward, you can start refilling your pond and restoring it to its old self, but with clean water and a well-functioning filter and pumps. Finally, decorate it with aquatic plants while making sure it does not get crowded.



Taking the proper steps to close your pond in preparation for winter is vital for it will keep your plants and fish safe. Your pond will remain in good condition after this preparation, and it will be easier to restart the pond in spring.

All the options we have offered in this article are designed to help you keep your water feature functioning. Having a pond as a water feature requires your time and attention. If you have left your beautiful pond to turn into an unwanted one, try rediscovering and transforming it based on what you want.

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