It is January 2012, in northeast Ohio and we have been blessed with what seems to be an endless fall season, but the frigid temperatures are sure to arrive any day now. Water gardens require maintenance throughout the year, but preparation for the winter months is especially important for the survival of both the aquatic plants and the wildlife in and around the pond. Fall is the time to take action, but because we have been really lucky this winter with unusually warm weather early on, it is not too late to start right now. Taking care of your pond during the cold months is easy to do. Just manage the plants and clean the pond. Then keep an eye on it until the warm weather returns.

To begin, you want to remove any debris that has collected in the pond from fallen leaves, seed pods, etc. If you covered your pond previously with a material such as bird netting, this should be an easy process. Then start with the plants in your pond. By now many of them have probably gone dormant as temperatures have dropped. If you are still fertilizing pond plants, stop now. Doing so will encourage root development for spring. Trim your plants of any yellow, brown, or decaying foliage and take an inventory to decide which plants can be left in the pond, which ones should be removed, and which ones will be discarded. (Note: Never discard water garden plants by putting them into lakes, ponds, ditches, streams or other natural waterways. Compost!!!) Tropical water plants will not tolerate Ohio

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