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Winterizing your water fountains starts in September

fountain with ice
Fountains are wonderful additions to gardens, lawns and backyards in the spring and summer. But like many beautiful things they need care and attention to continue to be worthy of admiration. Unfortunately, sometimes home owners don’t consider the importance of preparing their fountains for cold weather until it’s too late.

As Vince Christofora, owner of Woodstock Hardware in Woodstock, New York noted, “Some people think about winterizing during the first spring after installation, because something broke and there were leaks!”

In fact, the time to winterize a fountain is in the fall. According to Kevin Lloyd of Campana International, a manufacturer of garden accents, “People should prepare their fountains for cold weather around the first freeze. One night of freezing won’t be an issue for your pipes and system but don’t wait to do it after that. Use that first freeze as a motivator to get it done.”

To prepare a portable fountain for winter:
  • Remove any fish and plants.
  • Store a portable fountain in a shed or garage after draining and disassembling the pieces. Make sure to clean all the parts – especially the pump – to properly prepare it to be reinstalled in the spring.
For stationary fountains that’ll be exposed to snow, ice and freezing temperatures in winter:
  • Make sure to drain all of the water from the pipes or tubing
  • Pull the drain plug in the basin, and, if there isn’t a plug, run the pump, redirecting any water away from the system.

Take care of the pipes

Blow all the water out of the pipes with a small compressor to prevent them from bursting during freezing weather. You might also use a wet/dry vac for smaller jobs. Just disconnect the hose from the vacuum side and attach it to the discharge side. You can use duct tape to connect the hose to the piping.

For added protection against the pipes freezing in winter should water collect in them, add non-toxic RV antifreeze to the pipe rinse water. You can use a garden hose transfer pump to get this mixture into the pipes and other areas where water might collect.

Clean the pump as well

During the warm weather, algae and slime can cake up inside your pump. So be sure to clean it carefully. Run a solution of cleaning vinegar and water through the pump into a sink or bucket until the water runs clear. Drain the solution and then dry the pump before storing it in a climate-controlled environment until the spring.

Clean the rest of your fountain

Use a leaf blower to loosen the leaves and debris in and around the fountain and scrub the basin as well. Let these pieces dry for 24 hours.

Vince Christofora recommends using this opportunity to inspect and maintain your fountain. “Every three to five years,” he suggests, “apply a coat of water-based clear sealant or pool paint to maintain the surface through the winter and into the next season. Of course, if you keep fish or exotic plants in your fountain, make sure to use only non-toxic products.”

Repair whatever is damaged

Be sure to fill in any cracks in the basin or base using hydraulic cement to stop water leaks or structural epoxy paste to anchor and repair loose pieces of concrete. Use non-toxic Great Stuff Pond and Stone Minimal Expanding Foam to secure loose stones so that the fountain water flows over and not under them. As the last step, fix polyethylene and PVC liners with Flexseal. Repairing any cracks now will not only save you time in the spring, but minimize your work by preventing any cracks from growing during the winter.

Elevate and Cover the Fountain

Ideally, you should store the fountain basin and base indoors. But if that’s not possible, then it’s best to elevate the base above the ground by supporting if with bricks or boards. Fountains and bowls are often made out of concrete which can absorb moisture and crack in the cold winter months. So, if you must leave them outside, cover them with a UV-stabilized, breathable – not plastic – cover with a drawstring. Pull the drawstring taut to minimize the expansion and contraction of freezing and thawing water which can crack concrete.

Just remember, whatever the season, I’m happy to help

If all this sounds like something you would rather have me do – please just call and let me know. Only try to call before the first frost to avoid any damage to your fountain. Otherwise, I hope this helps you prepare your garden for winter and a happy spring!


PS: Our next blog will discuss how to maintain your pond during the winter season.


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