Winterization: Should I Shut My Water Feature Down  During Cold Weather?

Greetings from the world of waterscapes! One of the first questions I am asked by brand new water feature owners is “should I shut it off for winter?” The answer for winterization of ponds in general is that it depends on the environment. Up north, where the winters come early and hard, winter shut downs are part of normal annual maintenance.  Much like spring cleanouts are. Here is the south we don’t really have that problem.


Harsh Winters

If you get harsh winters where you live here are the steps you should take for winterization.

  • Net your pond for leaves and cut back foliage to prevent as much debris from getting in the water as possible.
  • Shut your pond off and remove the pump.
  • Store your pump in a dry place. A garage or storage shed for example.

If you have a pond with fish, you must make sure there is always an opening on the surface for oxygenation should the pond freeze over. To do this you can put in a floating de-icer or put a pump in the bottom which shoots a jet of water to the surface to keep it from freezing. For an added precaution you may want to add an aeration system if you don’t already have one.


Milder Winters

Here in Knoxville TN we don’t get winters that harsh. People often get worried when the weather forecast says temperatures will drop below freezing in the evenings.  They immediately shut their water feature off to keep the lines from freezing and busting. This is not actually necessary here. While quickly moving water may get a shell of ice over or around it, in our climate it will not freeze solid and therefore will not harm your pump or plumbing.

I have had a pond owner come to me with the opposite concern. They had experienced a situation where a plumbing line was full of water that was not moving and when it froze it busting the line. This caused them to ask me if it would be more dangerous to turn the pump off, leaving water in the line.  Would it freeze because it was no longer moving? This should not be a problem either. Unlike plumbing in a house with bad insulation, your pond plumbing is buried in the earth. This helps insulate it and protect it from freezing. You could also remove the check valve, draining the plumbing. But the safest thing to do in our climate is to leave your water feature running all year round.


If your water is flowing unobstructed you should have no problem with water freezing and harming your pump or plumbing. In fact, this can make for some truly beautiful winter scenery when you get ice formations around the edges of your stream, waterfall, or fountainscape. It can also be a really cool picture if you have some landscape lighting set up at night in order to capture in the dark as well. If you get some good photographs of your water feature this winter, we would love to see them!!!

Catch you downstream.

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