Tips of the trade: Winterizing your water features
By Bud Arnold
Horticulturist / Garden Center Manager, Schalow’s Nursery
When the temperatures fall the main thing I think of is ice and ice fishing.
Not quite yet, first we have to make sure your underground sprinklers and outdoor fountains are ready for the ice as well. It is time to winterize your water features.
Even if you have drained the water out of your irrigation system, some water remains and can freeze, expand, and crack piping. Polyethylene pipe is used in many freezing climates. Although polyethylene pipe is more flexible and can expand under pressure, water left inside can freeze and rupture the pipe walls. Freezing water in the backflow assembly will damage the internal components and can crack the brass body.
To minimize the risk of freeze damage, you will need to winterize your irrigation system. The best way to clear all water from the system is to use an air compressor. Extreme care must always be taken when blowing out an irrigation system with compressed air. Compressed air can cause serious injury, including serious eye injury from flying debris. It is best for a qualified licensed contractor to do your winterization.
It is also time to clean out your fountains. If possible, it is always best to put your outdoor fountain in your garage or shed. Sometimes fountains can be disassembled, and this makes them easier to store. With large outdoor fountains or heavy cast stone fountains, this is not always the case, so you will want to take other steps to winterize.
Before temperatures drop below freezing be sure all the water is removed from the fountain either by draining or vacuuming. Remove the pump if possible and store it indoors. Take this opportunity to get your pump cleaned thoroughly so debris, algae, and dirt does not sit in your pump all winter.
I also recommend using a fountain cover. Fountain covers should have drawstrings or a bungee at the bottom for a snug fit. They also come in many sizes, so you should not have a problem finding one that will fit over your fountain. Water must not get in the fountain and freeze as it will cause the fountain to crack.
Taking a few minutes this fall will ensure that next spring will be much more enjoyable.
Next week: Fall decorating using stuff around the yard
For more information on Schalow’s services, call 715-591-3478 or visit: http://www.schalows.com/