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Winterizing Outdoor Fountains and Water Features

As freezing temperatures approach, homeowners and garden enthusiasts must focus on winterizing outdoor fountains and water features. These beautiful additions to our gardens and outdoor spaces can suffer severe damage from freezing temperatures if unprepared for winter. This article will guide you through the essential steps to protect your water features, ensuring their longevity and functionality for seasons to come.

Understanding Your Fountain/Water Feature

Outdoor fountains and water features come in various types, each with unique characteristics. Whether you own a stone birdbath, a ceramic fountain, or a metal water sculpture, understanding the material is the first step in proper winterization. 

Stone and ceramic can crack in freezing temperatures; metal parts may corrode or rust, or if water freezes inside, the metal may burst. Identifying these materials helps determine the specific care needed to protect your water feature from the harsh winter elements.

Basic Steps for Winterizing

  1. Draining the Water: Begin by draining all the water from your fountain or water feature. Water expands when it freezes, and this expansion can cause cracks and damage. Be sure that all reservoirs, pipes, and basins are empty.
  2. Cleaning: Once drained, clean the feature to remove any debris, algae, or dirt. This maintains aesthetic appeal and prevents any material from decaying over the winter, which could cause damage or blockages.
  3. Inspecting for Damage: Before the first frost, check your fountain for any cracks or damages. Address these issues in the fall to prevent water from seeping into cracks and freezing, which can worsen the damage.

Protecting the Fountain/Water Feature

Covering your fountain or water feature is crucial for protection. Use custom covers or durable tarps that fit securely. This prevents debris from entering and shields the feature from snow and ice. Secure the cover so it doesn’t get blown away by the wind. 

For smaller features, consider moving them indoors or into a shed or garage for added protection.

Winter Care for Pumps and Other Mechanical Parts

If your fountain or water feature has a pump or other mechanical parts, you must also carefully winterize these. Remove the pump, clean it thoroughly, and check for wear and tear. Store it in a dry, frost-free environment. Proper storage and maintenance of mechanical parts ensure they operate smoothly in the next season.

Alternative Winter Uses

While your water feature may be out of action during the winter, the space doesn’t have to be dormant. For instance, you could convert a fountain into a winter planter with hardy plants or festive decorations. Ensure that any alternative use doesn’t compromise the structure of the feature and is safe for outdoor winter conditions.

Professional Help and Resources

While many aspects of winterization can be DIY, there are times when professional help is advisable, especially for larger or more complex water features. Professionals can ensure a thorough job and prevent costly damages. 

Also, seek resources like gardening websites, books, and local garden centers for tips and advice tailored to your type of fountain or water feature.

Winterizing your outdoor fountains and water features is crucial in garden maintenance. By following these steps, you can avoid damage caused by freezing temperatures and ensure your water features remain a focal point in your garden for many years. Regular maintenance and proper winter care are the keys to the longevity and beauty of these delightful garden elements.