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How Do You Maintain Wildlife Ponds In The Winter?

Posted by on Oct 27 2023

Winter is a season of transformation in the world of ponds. As temperatures drop, wildlife ponds require special care to ensure the health of the aquatic ecosystem within. Taking the right steps in autumn and during the winter months can help you maintain a thriving and balanced nature pond all year round. If you want to create a safe habitat for the wildlife in and around your pond during winter, we’ve got some essential winter care tips to make wildlife pond maintenance easier.


Remove Fallen Leaves and Debris

Before the onset of winter, it’s crucial to remove any accumulated leaves, debris and dead plants from your pond. Decaying plant material can release harmful gases as it decomposes, which can be detrimental to aquatic life. Use a pond skimmer or a pond net to gently scoop out any unwanted materials from the surface. Alternatively, a pond vacuum will also do a great job of cleaning your garden pond if it’s been neglected for a while.

When removing debris, try to leave things like logs and pebbles around the pond as this provides a surface for creatures to exit and enter the pond.


Trim and Prune Your Wildlife Pond Plants

Trimming and pruning your wild pond plants during late autumn is a great way to ensure their health during the winter months. Prune any dead or dying foliage, and make sure to submerge hardy water lilies to protect them from freezing temperatures. 

Aquatic plants play a vital role in oxygenating your pond and providing shelter for fish and other wildlife. Remove dead or decaying leaves and stems, as these can add excess nutrients to the water and lead to algae problems.


Add More Oxygenating Pond Plants 

One of the key factors in maintaining a healthy wildlife pond, especially during the winter months, is ensuring an adequate oxygen supply for your pond inhabitants. While you may have already pruned and prepared your existing pond plants, consider adding more oxygenating pond plants to further enhance the oxygen levels of your nature pond. Research and select oxygenating plant species that are well-suited to your pond’s size and local climate. Some common options include Hornwort and Curly Pondweed which are both native to Britain making them perfect additions to your wildlife ponds. 


Ensure Proper Pond Aeration

In addition to the essential role of oxygenating plants, pond aeration is another valuable tool for maintaining a thriving wildlife pond, particularly during winter months. Aeration involves introducing oxygen into the water to support fish, beneficial microorganisms and other aquatic life. A pond pump or pond stone will do the job of keeping the water moving, preventing stagnation and increasing the oxygen levels, especially when the pond’s surface is partially frozen


Equip Your Nature Pond With a Pond Heater

One of the most important steps in winter pond care is ensuring that a portion of the pond’s surface remains ice-free. Getting trapped in an ice layer is one of the biggest threats to pond wildlife. A frozen surface can trap harmful gases and deprive the creatures in your nature pond of oxygen. To prevent this, you can install a pond heater to keep a hole in the ice for gas exchange. Leaving a pond ornament floating on your pond can also prevent it from completely freezing over. In the event of your pond freezing over, avoid breaking the ice or defrosting with boiling water as this will be detrimental to the wildlife living there. Breaking the ice causes vibrations in the water that can harm animals while adding boiling water can negatively raise the heart rate of pond wildlife.


Invest in a Pond Cover

If you have a small wildlife pond, investing in a cover is an additional measure that can be beneficial during winter months. Pond covers can deter predators like herons from preying on your fish and pond wildlife during winter when other food sources are scarce. These covers act as a physical barrier preventing unwanted visitors from reaching your aquatic inhabitants. If you decide to cover your nature pond, ensure the pond cover doesn’t trap any small garden creatures like hedgehogs or frogs.


Keep Your Eye on Wildlife Pond Water Quality

Regularly check the water quality of your garden pond throughout the winter. Pond testing kits can help you test for PH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates to ensure that the conditions are suitable for the health of your pond wildlife. If you keep fish in your pond, feeding them less during the winter is essential. As the temperature drops, fish become less active, and their metabolic rates decrease. Overfeeding can lead to digestive problems and excess food and waste in the pond can compromise water quality creating an uninhabitable environment for pond wildlife. During winter, frequently monitor the parameters of your pond water and make adjustments as needed to ensure the water remains suitable for your aquatic inhabitants.


Create a Safe Habitat Around Your Wildlife Pond

Consider creating a designated area around your pond where wildlife can find shelter and food during winter months. Plant shrubs and install bird feeders to encourage wildlife into the area. You can also leave leaf litter or fallen branches near the pond for small mammals to retreat. Leaving a patch of long grass also creates a safe place for frogs and other creatures who emerge from the pond. These steps not only provide a refuge for local wildlife but also encourage them to stay away from the immediate vicinity of the pond, reducing the risk of damage or disturbance.



Now is the perfect time to prepare your garden wildlife pond for winter. At CD Aquatics, we stock a range of pond supplies that will help to keep your nature pond thriving throughout the winter. For more information, browse our selection of pond supplies, contact our helpful team online or call us on 01922 416284

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